Policy Priorities 2017-09-06T21:25:48+00:00

Policy Priorities

CJC works to improve access to good jobs and workforce services, improve skill-building programs, eliminate systemic barriers to employment, and foster job creation that benefits the people who need a job the most.

Without transportation, everything else is out of reach. That’s why CJC leads the Transit Table, a coalition of advocacy organizations, providers, and other stakeholders working to reduce transportation barriers that affect vulnerable residents in Chicago and across Illinois.

  • We’re working with CTA, our members, and other advocates to reduce the costs and burdens of the Ventra fare system on area non-profits. Read the report here.

  • Together with workforce professionals, government agencies, and other advocates, we’re working to eliminate driver’s license suspension as a burdensome penalty on low-income and disadvantaged Illinoisans, often for non-moving violations. Read about our legislation here.

Through the Transit Table, we are working to advance our strategic goals of reducing systemic barriers to employment experienced by people of color and women, and ensuring a robust network of community-based service providers. For more info, contact Eric Halvorson

A good job should lead somewhere. We’re working to make sure that job seekers with low basic skills can access demand-driven Career Pathways that offer integrated education and training, provide supportive services, and include paid work-based learning.

  • We are partnering with Women Employed and the Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition to increase the use of the Career Foundations curriculum in adult education and workforce programs.

  • We advocate for the adoption of one statewide definition of “career pathways” in Illinois, in order to better align resources and ensure access.

  • See our work with the Pathways to Careers Network here.

Our work on Career Pathways supports our strategic goal to ensure an inclusive continuum of education and training. For more info, contact Carrie Thomas or Kaitlyn McGovern.

If someone is homeless and wants to find work, employment services are a natural fit. But our homeless services and workforce services don’t align well. We are working to ensure better employment outcomes for people served by Chicago’s homeless-response system.

  • With Heartland Alliance, Inspiration Corporation, and Center for Changing Lives, we co-lead the Employment Task Force of the Chicago Continuum of Care.

  • We advocate for both the workforce and homeless-response systems to collect better information about both the housing and employment status of the people that they provide services to.

  • We are working to create navigators for individuals in housing programs who need help getting workforce services.

  • We develop new tools and resources for frontline staff of the homeless response system to better work with their job seeking participants.

This advocacy supports two of our strategic goals: to ensure an inclusive continuum of education and training, and to ensure a robust network of community-based service providers. For more info, contact Carrie Thomas

We can do a lot more to connect people to employment through the SNAP program. Recipients of food assistance through SNAP are more likely to have low skills and limited work experience. They don’t need work requirements that put their food assistance at risk, they need robust employment and training services.

  • We advance more skills-based programs for SNAP recipients by highlighting lessons from the EPIC pilot, documenting best practices from other states, and leveraging the federal SNAP to Skills program at FNS.

  • We advocate to increase federal resources for SNAP E&T. As part of FNS’ SNAP E&T Learning Academy, we are also documenting local funding available for the SNAP 50/50 reimbursement option.

  • We advocate against work requirements that penalize SNAP recipients for market conditions they cannot control. Job seekers on SNAP don’t need their food security threatened to find a job, they need robust employment and training services that connect them to family-sustaining employment. We’re working to make this happen with Shriver, Heartland, Illinois Hunger Coalition and Greater Chicago Food Depository.

  • We provide professional development training to support the SNAP E&T EPIC pilot program

This area of our policy work supports two of our strategic goals: to ensure an inclusive continuum of education and training; and to ensure a robust network of community-based service providers. For more info, contact Carrie Thomas.

WIOA is the largest federal source of workforce development funding. We monitor state and local implementation activities related to WIOA and bring ideas for systems improvement that are based on the experience of direct service providers.

This area of our policy work supports three of our strategic plan goals: to ensure an inclusive continuum of education and training; to reduce systemic barriers to employment experienced by people of color and women; and to ensure a robust network of community-based service providers. For more info, contact Carrie Thomas

We know there are not enough jobs in the places where people need them most. We believe that entrepreneurship, social enterprise, and worker-owned businesses hold unique opportunities for people who have trouble securing a stable job.

  • We support economic development strategies that prioritize hiring locally and from workforce training organizations, including social enterprises.

  • We support community benefits agreements that are enforceable by community members.

  • We are exploring how CJC can improve the use of entrepreneurship and worker-owned cooperatives as an employment strategy for marginalized job seekers.

  • We are exploring the extent to which alternative business models will increase quality employment in communities suffering from disinvestment and as a platform to break down structural barriers, especially those related to race, incarceration, and occupational segregation.

  • We advance accountability in local economic development—accountability for quality jobs for local residents

This area of our policy work supports two of our strategic goals: to promote the development of alternative business models that create opportunities for people living in poverty; and to reduce systemic barriers to employment experienced by people of color and women. For more info, contact Carrie Thomas.

We regularly join coalitions, support policy change, and educate and engage the workforce development field on the following three issues that are foundational to employment opportunity:

  • Public budgets: Sustainable public resources are needed at the federal, state, and local level to ensure employment opportunity. Currently we work with the Responsible Budget Coalition, Illinois Partners for Human Service, and the Fair Tax campaign to break through Illinois’ state budget crisis that is causing suffering in communities across the state.

  • Criminal justice: A criminal record of any kind follows individuals for too long and creates unnecessary barriers to employment. We support the work of partners like ROCCI and Safer Foundation to reduce these barriers.

  • Job quality: Not all jobs are created equal. We support efforts to improve the conditions of work—safety on the job, wages, benefits, and paid time off—to make sure that employment leads to economic stability. Entry-level workers, women, and people of color are the most vulnerable to harmful employment practices. We support the work of the Paid Leave Coalition, Raise the Floor Alliance, and other organizations that seek to improve public policies to support quality jobs.

  • Work supports: When a job isn’t keeping someone out of poverty, additional supports such as SNAP benefits, unemployment insurance, and TANF payments can help make a family’s budget work. We support programs that keep people out of poverty when employment can’t.

This area of our policy work supports two of our strategic goals: to promote the development of alternative business models that create opportunities for people living in poverty; and to reduce systemic barriers to employment experienced by people of color and women. For more info, contact Carrie Thomas