U.S. safety nets are not set up for Americans in poverty to achieve self-sufficiency and thriving. To address the underlying causes of long-term poverty, public policymakers should realign our fundamental safety-net programs to better connect people to work. Right now, when someone turns to one or more safety nets, they remain disconnected from effective workforce support. If our work-capable neighbors are going to move off the sidelines, the pathways to work must be clear and effective. 

There’s a better way, and it has been done before by the state of Utah. Utah is the only state with fully integrated federal and state funds for both human services and workforce services. During the 1990s, Utah merged human services with workforce services to create better coordination. Because of Utah’s cost allocation plan, caseworkers can focus on the needs of the individual or family before them, holistically respond to their immediate needs, and develop a long-term plan with them to find self-sufficiency. 

How can other states replicate Utah’s Success?