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MO's "SkillUP" Program Readies SNAP Recipients for Better Jobs


Thursday, November 8, 2018   

ST. LOUIS – A program in Missouri that promotes employability and self-sufficiency for those enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is being launched in Bootheel counties where limited job skills often keep families from getting ahead.

The SkillUP program is designed to help Missouri residents who receive SNAP benefits find living-wage jobs.

Dana Brown-Ellis, executive director of Mississippi County Caring Communities, says the program can help participants get a job that pays enough to meet the normal standard of living, or do short-term training that could allow them to get a higher paying job.

"These families don't have the money for additional short-term training, and so with the SkillUp program, this is something that's being offered to them at no charge that gives them the ability to have a better life," she explains.

According to Missouri's KIDS COUNT, approximately 33 percent of those who receive SNAP benefits in the state have children at home.

Missouri's SkillUP program is offered through job centers and some community colleges in the Springfield and Kansas City areas.

By one estimate, about 13 percent of Missourians participated in the SNAP program in fiscal 2016, and more than 70 percent of state participants are part of families with children.

To be eligible for SkillUP, residents must work or enroll in job training for at least 80 hours a month.

Tonya Carruth Vannasdall, executive director of New Madrid County Family Resource Center, says when SNAP recipients are employment-ready, it's often the catalyst that can change their lives.

"Opportunity is not huge here as far as being able to find employment, get skills,” she points out. “People need a little extra to help guide them in the right direction, because if you're helping the parents, you're helping the children."

The SkillUP job training program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service.

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