Stakeholders in the context of welfare reform have an investment in moving people out of the welfare system and into employment. In order to be successful, job access planning must be a collaboration of stakeholders from appropriate agencies. Identifying these agencies means determining who is responsible for providing and/or administering services the target population needs, such as jobs, training centers, and childcare facilities. The Job Access and Reverse Commute grant program is intended to be a coordinated planning effort, particularly between public transit and human service agencies. Guidance submitted by the Federal Transit Administration in November 1998 states that the planning process must include local transit agencies, the agencies administering TANF and WtW grants, welfare recipients and low-income people. The guidance also suggests involvement from the following organizations:
- Regional planning officials
- Human service, private, non-profit and other appropriate transportation and support service providers
- Community residents and organizations
- Faith-based organizations
- Disability groups and representatives
- Local and state workforce development organizations
- Recipients of TANF and WtW grants
- Public and assisted housing providers
- Community development agencies
- Economic development agencies
- Employers and employer groups (transportation management organizations and Chambers of Commerce)
- Private Industry Councils/Workforce Investment Boards
- Political officials including mayors, county supervisors, state legislators, governors and other state and local officials
Stakeholders can be categorized as primary and/or secondary stakeholders. Primary stakeholders typically have direct communication or contact with the target population through the provision of services and may also be referred to as "front-line" resources. Secondary stakeholders work behind the scenes in a variety of forms. Examples include strategy/program development and administration, allocation and distribution of funds, technical assistance, policy implementation, data collection and tracking, and reporting functions.
No two communities are alike in respect to welfare reform. The following section provides a generic description of where stakeholders may be found, grouped by the level at which they function: local, state, regional, or federal. Stakeholders are also grouped by whether they are a transit-related organization or function as a traditional/non-traditional organization in transportation planning activities. Some organizations may fall into more than one category. Local/Non-Traditional
- Employers - Employers may be educated on the welfare to work target population characteristics and their needs, and may become the focus for delivery of services and incentive programs. Employers are primary stakeholders in job access planning.
- Civic, Religious and Charitable Groups - Agencies such as churches, ad hoc crisis intervention centers, food pantries, and day care centers traditionally are active in providing services to low-income households. They may provide insight identifying transportation needs of low-income individuals. They may be considered primary or secondary stakeholders.
- Target Population - Low-income individuals and those receiving public assistance can provide information regarding the barriers to accessing employment, childcare and transportation. They are primary stakeholders.
- Childcare Providers - They provide childcare to the target population. In job access planning, they have insight to parental needs regarding transportation. They may be considered primary or secondary stakeholders.
- Chambers of Commerce - These agencies generally have ties to employers and employment opportunities, and may serve as a forum for discussion of transportation options. They are secondary stakeholders.
- Commissions/Boards - They generally have decision-making power over program implementation. They may be involved in the delivery of transit related services and are considered secondary stakeholders.
- Individual Cities and Villages - These units of government may be involved in the delivery of services that benefit the target population. Planning commissions may have an interest in program development. They are considered secondary stakeholders.
- Educational Institutions - These agencies provide short and long-term job training and adult education programs such as job counseling, placement services, educational programs, adult basic education and GED programs. They may also assist in providing research in job access planning. They may be considered primary or secondary stakeholders.
- Transit Authorities, Systems and Providers - Transit providers can render administrative and/or planning authority in addition to providing transportation services. Services can include fixed route, demand response, vanpools and others. These agencies are considered primary stakeholders.
- Transportation Providers (Public and Private) - These agencies provide transportation services in a specific area and can assist in developing initiatives that may provide useful services within cost and use parameters. They are primary stakeholders.
- Transportation Brokers - Brokers provide advice to the target population and agencies on the purchase of services and may coordinate delivery. They work directly with the target population, with employment/job counselors and various transportation service providers. They may be primary or secondary stakeholders in the planning process.
- Transportation Management Associations (TMAs) - TMAs are non-profit organizations working with employers and transportation providers to coordinate transit services in a region. They are secondary stakeholders.
- Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) - MPOs serve as regional planning bodies that allocate and program federal surface transportation funds for cities with populations over 50,000. MPOs assist communities in data collection and analysis regarding residential patterns, transportation and labor markets. Generally MPOs have access to mapping techniques and are experienced in collaborating with a variety of agencies. MPOs are secondary stakeholders.
- Counties - These units of government generally administer and provide a variety of support programs to the target population. They typically play a dominant role in job access planning and the provision of services. Job placement specialists and case managers serve as a critical link between the target population and available services. They are a primary stakeholder.
- Commissions/Boards - These bodies generally have decision-making power over program implementation. They may be involved in the delivery of transit-related services and are typically secondary stakeholders.
- Private Industry Councils (PICs) - PICs exist in some states and can be eligible for state and federal grants to facilitate welfare reform activities. They are considered secondary stakeholders.
- Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) - WIBs develop and provide policy analysis to determine how state government can best serve the employment and training needs of employers, employees, and the future workforce. They are considered secondary stakeholders.
- State Departments of Transportation (DOT) - DOTs are separated into district offices. These offices may play a role in the delivery of transportation services and/or program funding for a specific area. DOT staff can provide knowledge of the industry and assist in partnering activities. DOTs are considered secondary stakeholders in job access planning.
- State Departments of Human Services, Social Service and Employment Services - These departments generally provide a broad range of support programs such as Food Stamps, childcare reimbursement, Medicaid, child immunization, substance abuse and a variety of other social service assistance programs. Job placement specialists and case managers serve as a link between the distribution of services and the target population. These agencies are examples of primary stakeholders.
- State Workforce Development Agencies - These primary agencies are often responsible for finding jobs, assisting the target population in preparing a job plan and facilitating job search and placement. These agencies are primary stakeholders
- State Department of Labor (DOL) - Part of the DOL's mission is to prepare members of the workforce for new and better jobs, and to ensure adequacy in the workplace. These agencies are usually secondary stakeholders.
- Federal Transit Administration (FTA) - FTA provides financial and technical assistance to the local transit systems. The FTA is considered a secondary stakeholder.
- U. S. Department of Labor (DOL) - Part of the DOL's mission is to prepare members of the workforce for new and better jobs, and to ensure adequacy in the workplace. The U.S. DOL is a secondary stakeholder.
- U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) - FHWA is a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. FHWA provides technical assistance and education, supports transportation infrastructure through investments, and strives to achieve technological advances in transportation systems. FHWA is a secondary stakeholder.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) - the U.S. DHHS is the principal agency for protecting the health of Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves. DHHS works closely with state and local governments and many DHHS-funded services are provided at the local level by state or county agencies, or through private sector grantees. They are a secondary stakeholder.
Generally, some combination of these agencies will be involved in job access planning. Involvement and collaboration between transportation providers and welfare organizations, particularly job placement specialists, can be considered the most critical partnership to successfully addressing access to jobs issues.
The structure of government in an area often determines who is responsible for program development and what agencies should be included in job access planning. In most cases, one or two agencies may take the lead in organizing committees and facilitating meetings. New Partnerships
In order to be effective, job access planning must involve a variety of stakeholders from both the public and private sectors. Resulting partnerships bring new people to the table with unique views and opinions. As a result, new roles and responsibilities that each agency might play add to the challenge of keeping stakeholders involved and communication lines open.
Many of the organizations involved in job access planning may provide services to the same group of people; however, most of these organizations are working together for the first time. In the past, transit agencies and social service agencies had no apparent reason to work together or include one another in their planning activities; today this partnership is crucial to the success of moving people from welfare to work.
Job placement organizations play a critical role in helping the target population access jobs, serving as a direct link between job seekers and employers. Job placement counselors are responsible for contacting employers both initially and on an ongoing basis. Based on the employer needs, counselors identify potential candidates for employment. In most cases, they are also responsible for arranging transportation to the job site for interviews and other assistance to the individual. Partnering with job placement organizations enables other agencies to obtain information about the target population. Job placement counselors typically receive information during the initial interview with an individual and are able to determine their transportation needs - whether they have access to an automobile, live on a bus line or can carpool with a neighbor. Job placement counselors develop relationships with both the target population and employers, and, therefore, can assist in forming new relationships with other organizations.
Forming and maintaining new partnerships requires a long-term commitment from stakeholders. It is imperative that committees continue to meet even after programs are implemented, evaluating services and adjusting them accordingly. The target population's needs change as they progress through the various stages of job training, job search, interviewing, obtaining and retaining employment. A continuum of communication and evaluation of transportation services is essential for addressing those changing needs.