A Whole Family Approach to Jobs Launch Meeting, September 2017


Launch Meeting Summary

nurse with patientsOn Sept. 24-26, 2017, nearly 100 state leaders convened in Portland, Maine, to launch their work. In an unprecedented partnership both across states and across sector, executive and legislative leaders joined with business, philanthropy, parents and community organizations to help low-income families work and their children thrive. The convening was a starting point for collaboration and peer learning over the next two years, and stakeholders built a foundation to work together to reduce family poverty.

Significant insights were also shared across ACF regions one and four as the starting point for regional collaboration and peer learning.

Critical Time for Change

Robert Trieste, vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, spoke on poverty and workforce trends. He stressed the regional shortage of skilled workers, offering a critical point in time to build workforce readiness, skills and a pipeline for low-income parents. Attendees also heard from parents on the barriers to work, including lack of early care for their children, limited transportation and the impact of the fiscal “cliff effect.” State leaders learned mechanisms to braid policies across program and agency to facilitate employment, through focused case management and other mechanisms.

Regional Strategy with Cross-Sector Partners

Maine Senate President Michael Thibodeau (R) began the meeting emphasizing that government has a key role in ensuring that every young person has the chance to be as successful as possible. Steven Wagner, acting assistant secretary at the Administration for Children and Families, addressed the federal government’s commitment to state innovation and leadership for families. He sought federal-state partnerships to remove impediments and accelerate opportunity. State leadership teams agreed to build a state-by-state regional approach to align systems, develop program, policy, and regional solutions to sustainable work opportunities for low-income families. Each state affirmed interest in working with both public and private sectors and across agencies and programs.

Funders for the six-state launch include the John T. Gorman Foundation, W. K. Kellogg Foundation, Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, The Boston Foundation, the Irene E. and George F. Davis Foundation, the New Hampshire Charitable Trust, and the Rhode Island Foundation. A New England Regional Collaborative in Prevention comprised of several federal agencies has offered to provide assistance including Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Office for Civil Rights (OCR), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Health and Human Services (HHS) and Office of the Assistant Secretary for Heath (OASH).  Representatives from ACF Region 4 attended the September multistate launch to promote a region-to-region as well as a state-to-state exchange on this family-focused workforce strategy.

Action Steps

State teams identified goals for policy work within and across states with a keen focus on increasing jobs and employment for low-income families. Areas of focus include addressing benefits cliffs to improve transitions to work; furthering work to braid funding and reduce confusion for families; improving use and usability of SNAP Employment and Training funds; integrating data systems to improve data on the whole family; integrated case management systems; aligning workforce and child care policies; and identifying federal-state barriers that limit family opportunity.

States are also interested in expanding their “home teams” to include a broader set of stakeholders; increasing parent voice in policies; and creating stronger workforce pilot programs that serve the whole family. States are discussing and formulating next steps. NCSL, ACF and their partners will provide facilitation, research, technical assistance, and other forms of support as the state teams move forward.

Meeting Agenda

A Whole Family Approach to Jobs: Launch Meeting

Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017  | Armory Room

6-8 p.m.

Welcome Reception and State Team meetings

Begin goal-setting in state teams

Monday, Sept. 25, 2017 | Atlantic Room

8:30-9:15 a.m.

Welcome and Overview

Rochelle Finzel, group director, NCSL

Senate President Michael Thibodeau, Maine


State Team Introductions


Federalism and State Innovation

Elaine Zimmerman, regional administrator, ACF Region 1

Steven Wagner, acting assistant secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families

9:15-10 a.m.

Keynote: Poverty and Economic Trends in New England 



  • Paula Sammons, program officer, W.K. Kellogg Foundation


  • Robert Triest, vice president, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston


10-10:15 a.m.



10:15-11:15 a.m.

Panel:  Cutting Through to New Models



  • Sarah Haight, assistant director, Ascend at Aspen Institute


Family Futures Downeast: A Rural Family Success Story

  • Marsha Sloan, director, Family Futures Downeast
  • Charley Martin-Berry, director of Community Caring Collaborative
  • Elizabeth Neptune, president, Neptune Advantage
  • Rhiannon Sawyer, parent leader


UTEC:  Re-Entry, Gang Reduction and Successful Fathers   

  • Geoff Foster, director, Organizing and Policymaking
  • Kim Hall, assistant store manager, Whole Foods Markets
  • Jamel Bonilla, parent leader


Connecticut Interagency Commission: Legislation for a Two Generational System

  • Senator Marilyn Moore, deputy president pro tempore, Connecticut        
  • Representative Jeff Currey, deputy majority leader, Connecticut
  • Steven Hernández, executive director, Connecticut Commission on Women, Children and Seniors
  • Janine McMahon, parent leader


11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Putting the Family in the Center: Braiding Policy Across Agencies 

States in Region 1 & 4 share how they have begun to work across program and agency to improve work and family outcomes



  • Carlis Williams, regional administrator, ACF Region 4



  • Jennifer James, undersecretary, Office of Labor and Workforce Development
  • Jeffrey McCue, commissioner, Office of Transitional Assistance
  • Amy Kershaw, associate commissioner for programs, Office of Transitional Assistance



  • John Davis, executive director, Mississippi Dept. of Human Services
  • Mimmo Parisi, executive director, National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center, Mississippi State University


12:30-1:00 p.m.



1-1:15 p.m.

The Landscape of Policy Levers and Opportunities

Rochelle Finzel, NCSL


1:15-2:15 p.m.

Innovations to Overcome the Cliff Effect



  • Raquel Hatter, deputy director, Kresge Foundation; Former HHS Commissioner, Tennessee



  • Susan Crandall, director, Center for Social Policy Clinical Professor, University of Massachusetts Boston
  • Tricia Canavan, president, United Personnel Services
  • Brittany Birken, CEO, Florida Children’s Council


2:15-3:15 p.m.

Discovering New Options - Policy Dialogues

Learn more about policy innovations across multiple domains including:

  • Braiding early care and workforce strategies
  • Rural strategies in poverty reduction
  • Wraparound services- Health and mental health
  • Using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Employment and Training (SNAP E&T) to support whole family approaches

3:15-3:30 p.m.



3:30-5:00 p.m.

State Team Meetings

State teams will meet to discuss policy priorities and to identify potential action steps (Meeting rooms to be assigned)


5:30-6:30 p.m.

Reception Off-Site

Hosted by the John T. Gorman Foundation, 1 Canal Plaza


Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017  |  Atlantic Room

7:45-8:45 a.m.

Stakeholder meetings over breakfast

Meet with fellow agency leaders, legislators, parents, business leaders, community providers and philanthropy


8:45-9 a.m.

Reflections from Day One


9-10:30 a.m.

What Can We Build Together? Aligning Federal and State Policy

A fireside discussion exploring opportunities to work through federal and state policy interplay and its impact across the public, private and nonprofit sectors.



  • Elaine Zimmerman, regional administrator, ACF Region 1



  • Clarence Carter, director, Office of Family Assistance  
  • David Wilkinson, commissioner, Connecticut Office of Early Childhood
  • John Davis, executive director, Mississippi Dept. of Human Services


10:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Turning Ideas into Action: State Team Reflection and Planning Time

State teams will meet to finalize their priority goals and action steps.

(Meeting rooms to be assigned)


12:15-12:45 p.m.



12:45 -2:30 p.m.

Moving Forward and Working Together

State teams will share their goals and action plans and discuss ways to share learning across states and regions.


2:30-3 p.m.

Two Years of Action: Next Steps

Additional Resources