Support economic stability and mobility for people with criminal records
Updated June 15, 2021
People in the juvenile and criminal justice systems often face barriers that prevent them from accessing quality workforce development and training services that are necessary to find and secure stable employment.
The American Rescue Plan (ARP) provides a unique opportunity with over $21 billion for states and local communities to make deliberate connections to high-growth industries for people with criminal records. These connections help create employment pathways that enable people with criminal records to succeed in the workforce. At the same time, these connections support local economic recovery by ensuring that employers have access to a robust, skilled talent pipeline. Jurisdictions can also leverage ARP resources to strengthen and expand access to quality career technical education, training programs, and other workforce supports that increase employment opportunities for people with records.
|Name||Total Amount||Description||Administering Agencies||Eligible Entities||Distribution Mechanisms||End Date|
|Funding for Public Health Workforce
|Establish, expand, and sustain a public health workforce, including wages and benefits, related to the recruiting, hiring, and training of individuals to serve as case investigators, contact tracers, social support specialists, community health workers, public health nurses, disease intervention specialists, epidemiologists, program managers, laboratory personnel, informaticians, communication and policy experts, and any other positions as may be required to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID–19.||Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
|State, territorial, or local public health departments or a qualified nonprofit private or public organization, particularly in medically underserved areas||Competitive||Available until expended|
|Veterans Rapid Retraining Assistance Program
|$386 million||Provide up to 12 months of retraining assistance for veterans who are unemployed due to COVID-19 and do not have other veteran education benefits. This funding covers the cost of the retraining program and provides a housing allowance for veterans while they undergo this training.
|Veterans Health Administration (VA)||Unemployed veterans between the ages of 22 and 66
|Individual awards through VA program
|Jan. 31, 2023 (21 months from enactment of act)
|State Small Business Capital Initiative||$10 billion||Provide support to small businesses responding to and recovering from the economic effects of the COVID–19 pandemic; ensure business enterprises owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals have access to credit and investments; provide technical assistance to help small businesses applying for various support programs; and pay reasonable costs of administering such initiative.
||Secretary of Treasury||Small business enterprises owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals; tribal governments or a group of tribal governments that jointly apply for an allocation||State governments to set up low–interest loans and other investments||September 30, 2030|
|Economic Development Administration (EDA) Economic Adjustment Assistance||$3 billion||Assist communities nationwide in advancing their coronavirus recovery and resiliency strategies; support a wide range of technical, planning, and public works and infrastructure assistance. Of this amount, 25 percent of funding is reserved for assistance to communities that have suffered economic injury as a result of job losses in the travel, tourism, or outdoor recreation sectors.||EDA||Assistance to regions experiencing adverse economic changes; state and local governments; institutions of higher education; nonprofit organizations||Competitive grants. Guidance will be posted to the EDA’s website.||September 30, 2022, for economic adjustment assistance funding
September 30, 2027, for federal costs to administer assistance
|AmeriCorps and affiliated programs||$1 billion||Support for AmeriCorps to:
||Corporation for National and Community Service and National Service Trust||AmeriCorps Service Programs, prioritizing those that serve diverse communities or communities impacted by COVID-19||Grant allocation||September 30, 2024|
The ARP provides for an additional $350 billion in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds for communities to address local fiscal priorities in response to the pandemic. Learn more about how to use these funds to advance safety and justice goals in our guide. State, local, and tribal governments can request recovery funds directly through the Treasury’s website.
1. Increase access to high-quality credential and training programs, coupled with material and social support: ARP resources can be used to support economic stability and mobility for people with criminal records by tailoring credential and workforce development programs to meet the unique needs of this population. Effective programming for people in the justice system should include work-based learning models (e.g., apprenticeships) as well as earned income, stipends, and/or other financial incentives to support engagement and program completion. Integrated employment approaches for people in the justice system should address people’s reentry needs, while also preparing them for the workforce through tailored, accelerated, and industry-specific training. These programs should be complemented by other supports, such as career counseling, coaching, and job search and placement assistance.
2. Make strategic investments in on-ramps to career pathways: States and local communities can use funding available through the ARP to create career pathways for people in the criminal justice system so they are able to take part in an inclusive economic recovery. These pathways should be tailored to provide on-ramps that ensure that people returning from incarceration have access points to make progress towards careers that provide family-sustaining wages.
3. Ensure that investments in small businesses include businesses owned and operated by people impacted by the justice system: Self-owned or operated businesses present an important opportunity for people with justice system histories—who may otherwise be limited by criminal records—to secure meaningful employment. As such, ARP resources designed to stimulate economic recovery should include a focus on businesses that are owned and operated by people who have been in the justice system or impacted by it.
- Connecticut: Governor Ned Lamont proposes to invest $103 million in funding that Connecticut is receiving from the ARP to ensure that workers whose employment has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic have access to industry-aligned training programs that address the immediate hiring demands of employers and provide job seekers with employment opportunities. Governor Lamont set aside $4 million in specific investments in workforce supports for justice-involved youth and adults.
- Michigan: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced her funding priorities, which include investing in workforce opportunity and talent retention. These efforts will increase the number of adults with degrees and industry–recognized credentials and certificates; create Michigan Opportunity Scholarships for free community college; improve wraparound supports to increase college completion rates; and support career and technical education programs.
- After the Sentence, More Consequences: A National Report of Barriers to Work
- Presents national and state-by-state analyses of state and federal consequences of conviction that prevent people from being hired or create barriers to obtaining occupational licenses
- Removing Structural Barriers to Employment: A Playbook for Every State
- Details goals and strategies that states can implement to increase access to employment for people with criminal records
- Reducing Structural Barriers to School and Work for People with Juvenile Records
- Presents recommendations and policy options to improve access to school and work for people with juvenile records
- Improving Equity and Access to High-Quality CTE for Youth and Young Adults in the Justice System
- Outlines five actions state CTE directors can take to make sure that youth and young adults in the juvenile justice system have access to career training that is equivalent to the programming offered to their peers in the community
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