Legislation proposed by Urbana based Carle Hospital and designed to help address poverty in the region by training and putting people to work passed by the Senate unanimously April 24. The legislation sponsored by local State Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) and co-sponsored by Sen. Scott Bennett (D-Chicago) built upon Carle Hospital’s Healthy Beginnings program and seeks to provide workforce training and employment skills to those out of work or underemployed.
State Sen. Chapin Rose credits Carle CEO Dr. James Leonard for developing the pilot concept and putting the full resources of Carle on the line. As a major regional employer, the measure is an effort to help those at the lowest income levels rise up and out of poverty through intense workforce training or multi-generational family support programs.
“Right now, the system perpetuates poverty by holding people back with false barriers to upward mobility success,” Rose said. “This concept uses private dollars, not state tax dollars, to put people to work locally and move them out of poverty and into productive societal roles.”
Senate Bill 3232 would create a five year demonstration program. The focus of the program would include an Intensive Workforce Training Program and Multi-generational Healthy Family Initiative, two projects currently operated by Carle Foundation Hospital and Physician Group in Champaign-Urbana for people in poverty. The legislation allows for newly gained income to be disregarded for a period of 36 months, as long as participants are in the program. The program could help up to 500 people locally.
“On behalf of Healthy Beginnings and the Job Readiness and Learning Program, both important community-based programs serving low-income individuals in our community, we applaud the leadership of Senator Chapin Rose and Senator Scott Bennett in the passage of SB 3232,” James C. Leonard, M.D., President and CEO of Carle said. “Carle has made significant long-term commitments for the success of the individuals in the programs and we look forward to working with the State under the demonstration program created in this bill. We value the bipartisan cooperation from our area elected leaders in the spirit of helping our community.”
“I thank Senator Rose for his leadership on this important measure,” State Sen. Scott Bennett (D-Champaign), the chief co-sponsor of the legislation said. “This program is a good first step in helping those in our community who may be struggling and unemployed to get the necessary training and tools they need to get back on their feet.”
“I appreciate Carle bringing this to my attention and Sen. Bennett agreeing to be my chief co-sponsor,” Rose said. “This program can go a long way in helping people get out of poverty and into the workforce.”
Senate Bill 3232 now moves to the House for consideration.