County will miss jobs program

A jobs plan that has been discontinued was a “terrific program” that took one-third of its participants off the dole, according to the county director of Social Services.

Director Lee Collins praised the SLO WORKS program at last week’s county Board of Supervisors meeting as one that had “remarkable successes.”

The SLO WORKS plan, funded in part by the federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, was halted this fall by Congress.

Under SLO WORKS, public and private employers, job seekers and the government sought to help find work for the unemployed and also help small businesses.

SLO WORKS paid the salaries of low-income individuals who received training and supervision from employers, Collins wrote in a staff report.

The program gave businesses solid workers, provided jobs and, because those employees had money to spend, fueled the economy, Collins said.

During the program’s nine months of existence, 107 people signed up. Half of them obtained full-time, unsubsidized employment, Collins wrote.

Of the 107 participants, 53 were receiving public assistance benefits.

Of those, 35 “were able to have their public assistance cases closed as a result of their earnings,” Collins wrote.

Collins said his department is working with the state “with the goal of continuing some form of the program.”

Collins and the county Administrative Office cited the program as one of the few examples of positive news during a report that delineated the county’s financial status in the first quarter of the current fiscal year, which runs from July 1, 2010, through June 30, 2011.