The Policy and Program Development team is very pleased to announce we have added two new members to our team.
Communications & Workforce Technology
October 1st begins a new year for Food Stamp Program accuracy measurement. Our hard work and increased payment accuracy focus has led to much improved work quality in the past several years, yet we've remain short of our goal to do better than the national average. We set our goal last year for a 94 percent accuracy rate. We are still striving for that goal, in the current year and our national payment accuracy ranking among the states is 36th. We aim in the FFY 2007 quality control sample to achieve 95 percent accuracy. Give Me Five! is our new campaign theme. A 5 percent food stamp payment error rate (Give Me Five - get it?) would earn us a respectable place in the top 20 in the national rankings.
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt today announced the release of $79.9 million in energy assistance for 14 states. These contingency funds, from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) program, will provide states with heating assistance for the fall and winter months ahead.
"This assistance will help states prepare for heating costs this fall and winter," Secretary Leavitt said. "With this funding, the Bush Administration is helping those in need by ensuring their homes are kept warm during the winter months."
(U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Press Release)
This week, President George W. Bush signed the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which reauthorizes the Temporary Assistance for Needy Family (TANF) program administered by HHS' Administration for Children and Families (ACF).
"The reauthorization of the TANF program takes the next step in welfare reform by strengthening work requirements and providing the assistance families need to climb the career ladder," HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said. "Welfare reform is helping millions of people climb out of poverty. Now, we want to go the next step and help them climb the job ladder by creating more opportunities for education and job training."
According to the Associated Press, Alaska will receive more than a half million dollars as part of the congressional Low Income Energy Assistance Program. The program helps states aid low-income residents in paying for heating bills this winter. Nationally, 100 million dollars in emergency funding was approved by Congress.
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski says this should help more Alaskans pay for their heating bills this winter. She says Alaskans have seen nearly 30 percent increases in the cost of diesel heating fuel and up to 40 percent hikes in natural gas costs as a result of increased worldwide competition for energy.
The Matanuska-Susitna Borough’s economic indicators all tell the same story: They describe the fastest growing area in the state. Growth measures including employment, population, business formation, in-migration, highway counts and new homes being built all point to the Mat-Su Borough. In fact, it’s the only area in the state where the term “booming” is applicable.
Alaskans earned a combined $22.6 billion in 2004, an increase of slightly more than $1 billion from 2003, according to the most recent income data for the state. Dividing that number by the number of residents – every man, woman and child – means that Alaska’s per capita income was $34,454. That’s an impressive figure, but it only takes on real meaning when compared to other states or when observed in a historical context. And this particular income figure is only one measure among many calculations of income.
by Sonja Koukel
Capitol City Weekly
As the recently hired Food Stamp Nutrition educator, Helen Idzorek works with individuals, families and community organizations to offer programs designed to assist food stamp recipients in stretching their food dollars and enjoying healthy, nutritious meals. Helen's goal is to provide educational programs that increase, within a limited budget, the likelihood of all food stamp recipients being able to make healthy food choices.
Here is the Division Overview newsletter that was released in June. It has been available on the public DPA website under the "Headlines" section and you can also view it by clicking on the link above. We have had a very enthusiastic response about this newsletter from our state partners, fellow divisions, members of the Alaska Workforce Investment Board, and many others. Our partners appreciated the report and thought it was 'best practice' in communicating to our broad stakeholders - and also tells the terrific story of your hard work and DPA's results as well! We intend to update this newsletter every six months or so with news of our efforts and outcomes.
I'm proud to celebrate public assistance worker appreciation week with you and acknowledge the hard work of Public Assistance staff and partners in assisting Alaska's families on their path to self-sufficiency.
It's rare that one division can have such a great impact on people's lives. The important work of case managers, eligibility technicians, support service staff, supervisors, administrative support personnel, employment specialists and others is vital to tens of thousands of Alaska families.