Maryland Department of Human Services Honors Graduates from Noncustodial Parent Employment Pilot Program in Baltimore City

For immediate release:
December 6, 2017

Contact: Kari Nye
(410) 767-8592

Maryland Department of Human Services Honors Graduates from Noncustodial Parent Employment Pilot Program in Baltimore City
Industry-Led Effort Builds Family Self-Sufficiency while strengthening Maryland Workforce

BALTIMORE—Lourdes Padilla, Secretary of the Md. Department of Human Services (DHS), today honored the first group of graduates from the agency’s noncustodial parent employment pilot program known as STEP Up (Supporting, Training and Employing Parents). Secretary Padilla joined Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford at the Center for Urban Families, one of STEP Up’s program partners, to highlight the pilot’s first year in operation. The program currently serves 292 parents, 79% of whom joined STEP Up voluntarily.

“STEP Up is a crucial part of Maryland’s upward trend in statewide economic performance,” said Lt. Governor Rutherford. “We’re excited for the program to build upon its success, and to see these graduates become active members of the workforce. There is no greater reward for hard work than the ability to provide for one’s family.”

“People want to change their lives, and STEP Up is a meaningful opportunity for them to do so,” said Secretary Padilla. “STEP Up goes beyond the one-size-fits-all model by delivering individualized work plans that train parents for new careers while helping them overcome traditional barriers to employment. Together with our community partners, we’re giving parents the tools that they need to succeed in career-ready jobs with family-sustaining wages.”

The STEP Up program promotes workforce development through innovative public-private partnerships. The program is targeted toward Baltimore City’s low-income, unemployed, and underemployed noncustodial parents with child support obligations. STEP Up provides individualized job-driven training and support services that help parents find and retain good jobs that enable economic self-sufficiency, consistent child support payments, and long-term economic independence. Astride the job-training, participants may be eligible for support services that include GED attainment, expungement services, reentry counseling, drug treatment programs, and more.

“We know that it’s not enough to just give somebody a skill. The parents who come to us are committed to changing their entire life, and STEP Up gives them the structure to do it,” continued Secretary Padilla.

During the 2016 legislative session, the DHS Child Support Administration partnered with Del. Samuel I. Rosenberg (41st District), who introduced landmark legislation (House Bill 1502) to establish the three-year, city-wide pilot program known as STEP Up. House Bill 1502 received unanimous support from the legislature and was signed into law by Governor Hogan as Chapter 312, Acts of 2016. The program is supported by an extensive network of government partners, employers, and nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, working together to put parents on career pathways for in-demand industries that include construction, welding, and healthcare, among others.

Partnerships provide job readiness and skills training to prepare unemployed and underemployed Marylanders for meaningful careers. Many of these participants have various barriers to employment, which includes education, transportation and criminal backgrounds.

“Employers have helped drive the training in partnership with community organizations. We’re excited to continue working with our many stakeholders to further the program’s success and, we hope, growth,” concluded Secretary Padilla.

For more information about STEP Up, visit the agency’s website at www.dhs.maryland.gov/STEPUp . Residents of Baltimore City with child support obligations who are interested in enrolling can visit program coordinator Fatima Lewis at 1 North Charles Street on the fifth floor. Or, they can call the state helpline at (800) 332-6347.

The Maryland Department of Human Services is the state’s primary social service provider, annually reaching more than one million people. Through its 24 local departments of social services, the agency 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. Find more information at www.dhs.maryland.gov, or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.

Filed in: DHS News, In the Press

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