New DHR Secretary Promotes Workforce Development and Innovative Public-Private Partnership


For Immediate Release:
February 28, 2017

Kari Nye, kari.nye@maryland.gov
(410) 767-8592

New DHR Secretary Promotes Workforce Development and Innovative Public-Private Partnership

Secretary Padilla and Md. State Del. Rosenberg highlight successful inception of STEP Up

Baltimore—Secretary of the Md. Department of Human Resources (DHR) Lourdes Padilla toured the Baltimore Regional Training Center with Md. State Delegate Sandy Rosenberg to highlight an innovative job-driven training initiative serving Baltimore families. STEP Up (Supporting, Training, and Employing Parents) is a public-private partnership aimed at developing the long-term economic independence of unemployed and underemployed noncustodial parents with child support obligations in Baltimore City.

In coordination with an extensive network of government partners, employers, and nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, STEP Up offers sector-based job training and individualized support services that put parents on career pathways for in-demand industries such as construction, welding, and healthcare. Ultimately, STEP Up helps parents train for, find, and retain stable jobs with strong wages that can contribute to family self-sufficiency.

“Family is at the heart of this initiative,” said Secretary Padilla. “What we’ve heard from our community partners is that parents come to STEP Up because they want to be engaged in their children’s lives. Parents are counting on us to provide the tools and the support to make sure they can get there.”

In addition to providing employer-driven, sector-based training, STEP Up offers parents services that surmount barriers to employment, including transportation, housing, education, and health care. Participants may be enrolled in one program focused on teaching essential skills such as appropriate dress and punctuality, and in a second program where they learn hard skills such as overhead stick welding or CNC machining. In addition, the STEP Up network offers wraparound services that support program graduates long after they’ve secured employment. Often, STEP Up network graduates are entering the labor force for the first time, and post-program services, such as financial or employment coaches, help ensure long-term stability.

“It’s not enough to just give somebody a skill,” said Elaine Carroll, Director of Jane Addams Resource Corporation–Baltimore. “We’re working with people who are serious about changing their entire life.”

Nearly 170 parents have enrolled in the program since its October 2016 launch. In fact, STEP Up’s first cohort is on track to complete their first quarter of training, thereby earning their first 5% arrears forgiveness. Successful completion of the entire program will allow graduates to obtain the full 20% forgiveness. During the tour, one parent explained how STEP Up stepped in when he needed help. “I was looking for a way out,” he said. “And I’ve found that anything I’ve needed help with, this program has found a way to help me out. That’s what I needed—support. They gave me support when no one else would.”

“We find that when parents aren’t paying child support, it’s not because they don’t want to, but because they can’t. It’s on us to provide them the skills that they need in order to do that,” said Secretary Padilla. “This program is like music to my ears.”

To learn more about STEP Up and DHR’s workforce development partnerships, visit www.dhr.maryland.gov/work

DHR—the Maryland Department of Human Resources—is the state’s primary social service provider, serving more than one million people annually. Through its 24 local departments of social services, DHR aggressively pursues opportunities to assist people in economic need, provide preventive services, and protect vulnerable children and adults in each of Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore City. Additional information may be found at www.dhr.maryland.gov, or on Facebook and Twitter.

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