A state official is working with peers from other states on how best to deliver services to Nebraskans.
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services CEO Courtney Phillips has been working with her peers in the Secretaries Innovation Group, sharing what works and what doesn’t in their states.
Such as in job training.
Phillips says she’s watching how the federal government responds to a waiver request to include work toward a GED as part of the state’s job training programs.
“We understand sometimes that individual may need that GED before they actually can move forward with the job training and right now those dollars are not able to be utilized for that,” Phillips tells Nebraska Radio Network. “So that’s a recent waiver. Ohio was the first state to look at that.”
Phillips says that is just one example of the collaboration within the group.
Group members also meet in Washington, D.C. from time to time. There they can discuss various projects, describe how they approach problems, share success stories as well as failures in delivering services.
And, they can meet with members of Congress.
Phillips recently attended the group’s meeting in Washington with the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
She says the group speaks with one voice when it talks with Congress.
“I think the biggest thing is states looking for flexibility, understanding that we are all not alike and wanting some of that flexibility to look at what works in our community and how do we put it into place in terms of what we need for our state,” according to Phillips.
Members of the group have been meeting with Ways and Means since 2012. Late last year, the meeting focused on welfare reform.
According to a news release from the Ways and Means Committee, the committee is pursuing reform with four principles in mind.
1. Expect work-capable adults to work or prepare for work in exchange for benefits.
2. Get incentives right so everyone benefits when someone moves from welfare to work.
3. Focus on results of welfare programs, not enrollment and dollars spent.
4. Improve program integrity to preserve welfare benefits for those most in need.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]