In the next few months, it will be my job to tell people about a recent Nebraska Appleseed “win.” This year, Nebraska Appleseed, along with Senator Harms from Scottsbluff and numerous advocates and supporters, worked to pass LB 458, legislation that allows families that participate in the Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) program to pursue an education for 36 months. This legislation opens the door for ADC recipients to pursue a short term degree, like an Associate’s Degree, that significantly increases their earning potential.
The change has been a long time coming. From Appleseed’s inception in 1996, increasing access to education for ADC recipients has been on the organization’s agenda.
Now that the legislation has changed, Appleseed’s “Choosing Education” initiative has the educational tools available to tell folks statewide about the new ability to pursue education, and how to get it done. It’s satisfying to get to be the one that talks to folks about this new opportunity.
At the same time, it’s clear that in order to make the ADC program in Nebraska truly serve the vision of supporting families and moving them to their highest level of self-sufficiency, we must continue our work. In other words, we must continue to bend the arc towards justice. There are many improvements that Appleseed would like to see to in our ADC program, such as:
- Increasing the amount of time that ADC recipients are able to pursue a GED and increase their earning potential
- Lifting asset limits above the current $2000 limitation to a level that better allows families to save for education, to buy a car, or to address an emergency
- Developing a transitional jobs option in the ADC program, modeled on other states to give recipients a subsidy to work in a nonprofit organization and build job skills for those folks not yet ready to enter the workforce
- Increasing eligibility limits to let more families in need access assistance
Nebraska Appleseed will, without question, continue our work. So I want to know: what are your thoughts – what’s the next issue we work to win for ADC recipients in Nebraska?