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When Congress included $250 million for Reemployment Services (RES) in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s (ARRA), we knew it was a great opportunity to reinvigorate one of the public workforce system’s most vital functions.  Since February 2009, states have made a variety of innovative investments to meet the urgent challenge of reemploying millions of Americans – from mobile RES units, to new skill assessment tools, to integrated information management systems that support the seamless delivery of reemployment services to all job seekers.  Through our travels to regional conferences and our conversations with you, we have learned of the steady progress toward our goal of system integration and transformation.

 

An important deadline is approaching: All ARRA RES funds must be obligated by September 30th, 2010. While states have through PY2011 to spend the monies, any funds that have not been obligated by this September will expire.  Over the course of the next six weeks, NASWA and ETA will focus on how states can invest their ARRA RES funds to strengthen services to unemployed workers and bolster the long-term capacity of the system to provide reemployment services by improvements in both staff training/capacity and service design. We will use webinars and the community of practice as vehicles for sharing information and providing technical assistance. Upcoming activities include:

 

  • Webinar: We will kick off the campaign this Friday, April 30th when NASWA and ETA jointly host a webinar featuring three innovative approaches to spending RES funds. The webinar will include presentations by Washington, Wisconsin, and Utah, each of which invested their ARRA funds on creative and system-enhancing activities that will provide a foundation for continued program improvements.
  • Sharing Best Practices: The community of practice will host a series of blogs detailing how different states are responding to the challenges of serving the unemployed and strengthening system integration and performance. 
  • Peer-to-Peer Technical Assistance: The community of practice will also host live discussion threads, through which states can pose questions or suggestions around effective ways to obligate their funds. Community of Practice managers and NASWA staff will facilitate peer-to-peer information sharing across the states.
  • ARRA RES Shopping List: The community of practice will host a collaborative “shopping list” of items that states are buying with their ARRA RES funds. We hope you will add your own investments to this “wiki shopping list” and share any questions or suggestions you have about the use of ARRA RES funds.

We believe this is a critical moment in our effort to transform and expand reemployment services. Any monies that are not obligated by September 30th, 2010 represent a lost opportunity at a time when reemployment services are in greater demand than at any time in recent history. With the unemployment rate expected to remain high, it is essential that we continue to invent new and creative ways to help Americans get back to work. We know you share our goal and we look forward to working with you on this urgent challenge.

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