Good News for Programs Serving Disadvantaged Youth: WIOA Passes the House
Jul 10, 2014
By Kisha Bird
Yesterday, something really big happened here in Washington, DC – the legislative process worked and the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 was reauthorized. Long overdue, the Act has been up for reauthorization since 2003. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the renamed Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) with overwhelming support from members across both sides of the aisle by a vote of 415-6. CLASP applauds Congress and the bipartisan leadership in the House for their commitment to usher this critical bill to passage. WIOA includes significant improvements to ensure low-income youth and adults have access to the skills they need for full participation in the American workforce.
CLASP has been a long-time advocate of many of these improvements including a wider range of services (such as transitional jobs) for low-skill, low-income adults and individuals with barriers to employment; support for career pathways, integrated education and training; and other approaches to adult education that allow for increased transitions to and success in postsecondary education.
In particular, Title I of WIOA includes several significant provisions that CLASP and the Campaign for Youth have advocated for, including redirecting resources to serve out-of-school youth and those who face the greatest challenges; expanding age eligibility to 24; and making it easier for local communities to serve young people by addressing eligibility issues.
While the funding authorized in WIOA is not commensurate to the scale of our national youth employment crisis, it would provide dedicated resources for states and local areas to address the work and education needs among young people living in highly distressed communities, which have a disproportionate number of young people of color, and implement an array of effective employment, education, and youth development strategies that are also responsive to the workforce needs of employers.
The passage of WIOA in both the Senate and the House demonstrates that the legislative process can still work if the needs of Americans are put ahead of politics; the bill now awaits President Obama’s signature. CLASP will release a detailed analysis of WIOA’s implications for low-income youth and adults and is eager to work with all levels of government to help ensure its successful implementation.
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