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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, July 1, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesHuman Services Program Restoring Hope for V.I. Clients

Human Services Program Restoring Hope for V.I. Clients

Seventy clients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) are now working full-time in area nonprofit organizations, charities and V.I. Government, with salaries courtesy of Uncle Sam—thanks to $2 million in federal stimulus money and a creative V.I. Human Services Department program.
The department sought and received funds through the Community Service Block Grant and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Emergency TANF Fund to establish the job-creation project, according to a Human Services statement issued Monday.
About 45 of the 70 former TANF recipients are working for nonprofit organizations, and the remaining 25 or so are working within the Human Services Department, Human Services Commissioner Chris Finch said this week.
TANF recipients are low-income families with children who receive public assistance. Clients are required to engage in work-related activity to stay in the program, including subsidized employment, and vocational training.
Those working through this new program are paid an average of $9 per hour, and those working at Human Services will get the minimum government salary of $20,000 and full government benefits including medical, dental, paid holidays, accrued annual and sick leave, and retirement (optional). Participants employed at nonprofits will receive benefits according to the policies of that organization.
The salaries and benefits are all paid, and nonprofits have only the expense of supervising and training the new employee.
By subsidizing salaries for employees at nonprofits, the project gets the maximum impact for each dollar, Finch said.
"It is kind of a multiple-win for everyone," Finch said. "You give an agency an employee they could not otherwise afford to hire. You get the services the employee provides, which are all public service work, and you give someone on public assistance more than a year of job experience."
Nonprofits and charities are giving the thumbs-up on the new program.
"It’s wonderful for us in that we really need the extra help, and their salaries are fully paid," said Junia Straker of Lutheran Social Services on St. Croix. According to Straker, LSS now has three employees working at Queen Louise Home: one answers phones, another is a maintenance worker, and a third is working directly with the children.
"The young lady who is doing maintenance work has really been a great help," Straker said. "This has provided us help we really, truly need here at Queen Louise Home."
Benefit from the program can be quantified, Finch said. TANF clients are moved toward self-sufficiency which will reduce dependency on public assistance by at least 12 percent, according to Human Services figures.
Nonprofits are able to hire staff they otherwise couldn’t afford and Human Services is able to fill vacancies left open by the government-wide hiring freeze.
As long as the program lasts, participants are off public assistance, stopping the clock on their five-year lifetime TANF benefit limit.
Because health benefits come with the jobs, not only do clients get that personal security, the territory does not have to pay the cost if they get sick and it doesn’t eat into the limited, capped territorial Medicaid funds.
Some of the participating nonprofits include Catholic Charities of the Virgin Islands, Beyond Vision Foundation, COAST, The Village Partners in Recovery, and Clear Blue Sky.
Clients employed at Human Services are positioned in Adult Protective Services, Division of Family Assistance, Elderly Nutrition program, Human Resources, Juvenile Justice, Pre-School Services, Queen Louise Home for Children, Herbert Grigg Home for the Aged, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, Therapeutic Recreation, and Administrative offices.
Each position is funded for 18 months. When the funding runs out, some of the workers will transition into permanent positions, but those who do not will still benefit enormously, Finch said.
"They will be coming off a full year of work experience, hopefully with good performance reviews and a letter of reference or two—things they don’t usually have when on public assistance," he said.

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Seventy clients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) are now working full-time in area nonprofit organizations, charities and V.I. Government, with salaries courtesy of Uncle Sam—thanks to $2 million in federal stimulus money and a creative V.I. Human Services Department program.
The department sought and received funds through the Community Service Block Grant and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Emergency TANF Fund to establish the job-creation project, according to a Human Services statement issued Monday.
About 45 of the 70 former TANF recipients are working for nonprofit organizations, and the remaining 25 or so are working within the Human Services Department, Human Services Commissioner Chris Finch said this week.
TANF recipients are low-income families with children who receive public assistance. Clients are required to engage in work-related activity to stay in the program, including subsidized employment, and vocational training.
Those working through this new program are paid an average of $9 per hour, and those working at Human Services will get the minimum government salary of $20,000 and full government benefits including medical, dental, paid holidays, accrued annual and sick leave, and retirement (optional). Participants employed at nonprofits will receive benefits according to the policies of that organization.
The salaries and benefits are all paid, and nonprofits have only the expense of supervising and training the new employee.
By subsidizing salaries for employees at nonprofits, the project gets the maximum impact for each dollar, Finch said.
"It is kind of a multiple-win for everyone," Finch said. "You give an agency an employee they could not otherwise afford to hire. You get the services the employee provides, which are all public service work, and you give someone on public assistance more than a year of job experience."
Nonprofits and charities are giving the thumbs-up on the new program.
"It's wonderful for us in that we really need the extra help, and their salaries are fully paid," said Junia Straker of Lutheran Social Services on St. Croix. According to Straker, LSS now has three employees working at Queen Louise Home: one answers phones, another is a maintenance worker, and a third is working directly with the children.
"The young lady who is doing maintenance work has really been a great help," Straker said. "This has provided us help we really, truly need here at Queen Louise Home."
Benefit from the program can be quantified, Finch said. TANF clients are moved toward self-sufficiency which will reduce dependency on public assistance by at least 12 percent, according to Human Services figures.
Nonprofits are able to hire staff they otherwise couldn’t afford and Human Services is able to fill vacancies left open by the government-wide hiring freeze.
As long as the program lasts, participants are off public assistance, stopping the clock on their five-year lifetime TANF benefit limit.
Because health benefits come with the jobs, not only do clients get that personal security, the territory does not have to pay the cost if they get sick and it doesn't eat into the limited, capped territorial Medicaid funds.
Some of the participating nonprofits include Catholic Charities of the Virgin Islands, Beyond Vision Foundation, COAST, The Village Partners in Recovery, and Clear Blue Sky.
Clients employed at Human Services are positioned in Adult Protective Services, Division of Family Assistance, Elderly Nutrition program, Human Resources, Juvenile Justice, Pre-School Services, Queen Louise Home for Children, Herbert Grigg Home for the Aged, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, Therapeutic Recreation, and Administrative offices.
Each position is funded for 18 months. When the funding runs out, some of the workers will transition into permanent positions, but those who do not will still benefit enormously, Finch said.
"They will be coming off a full year of work experience, hopefully with good performance reviews and a letter of reference or two—things they don't usually have when on public assistance," he said.