BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Gov. John Bel Edwards issued an executive order that would require certain people who receive SNAP benefits to participate in job training and assistance programs to keep their eligibility.
Edwards held a press conference at 3 p.m. Thursday to announce a new program that the executive order would create a partnership aimed at workforce and career development for participants in the SNAP food assistance program considered Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs).
"Louisiana values both compassion and sustainable employment that provides for our families," Edwards said. "As I promised back in December, this Executive Order establishes practical work-related requirements, while recognizing the daily challenges faced by those receiving government assistance and connecting these citizens with the tools to help achieve meaningful employment."
ABAWDs are certain non-disabled adults ages 18-49 living in homes without children under the age of 18. Those ABAWDs that are currently working or in school would not be affected by the executive order.
The new workforce program will be run by the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) and the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). The agencies will partner with the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) to help get ABAWD participants involved into job placement programs.
According to officials, the program will take effect July 1 when DCFS refers the ABAWDs to take part in one of the 59 Louisiana Workforce Commission Business and Career Solutions Centers, where LCTCS is already partnering with its WorkReady U skills assessment and job training program.
"There are so many of our Louisiana adults who want to find a way to work, but because of circumstances beyond their control have not been able to move forward," said DCFS Secretary Marketa Walters. "Under Governor Edwards' initiative, we will meet each individual participant where they are to help make a difference in each life in a meaningful way."
Officials said there are about 64,000 ABAWDS in Louisiana. DCFS estimated that about 47,000 will be affected by the executive order. According to officials, around 17,000 of those 47,000 are already work, are attending school or are otherwise exempt from the federal work requirement.
For almost two decades, Louisiana has received a wavier of federal work requirements under SNAP for ABAWDs.
Without the wavier, those adults, who receive a maximum of $194 in food assistance each month, would only be able qualify for three months of assistance in a 36-month time period. They would only be able to qualify for more if they could show that they took part in work, education or volunteer work.
Gov. Edwards, like his predecessors, requested the waiver that would allowed Louisiana to create its own work requirements when he took office. Edwards pledged to when requesting the waiver that he would work to find a way to help ABAWDs find employment.
Watch Thursday's press conference in the player below: