Virginia’s Return to Earn grant program is commendable for its explicit recognition of the hurdles employees face in returning to work AND how challenging it is for small businesses to help them.
While there has been an unfortunate amount of conversation about “getting people off the couch”, as extended unemployment benefits end and the labor crunch continues, it’s harder than ever to ignore the fact that many people are facing really difficulties solving for childcare,
Virginia’s program has been around since the spring when the state reimposed a work search requirement for unemployment support. It targets companies with less than 100 employees, and offers matching grants for funds offered directly to qualifying new hires. Companies can apply for up to $500 to match funds they award directly in cash to new hires in either a lump sum or installments. There are limits on the number of hires per company and on the wages paid and benefits offered. There has even been an exception carved out for childcare providers, who are especially critical to the economic recovery, who may be eligible for up to $1,000 per hire. For more details, here is a link to an FAQ page.
Initial funding of $3 million was set aside in late May, though as of late August, Virginia’s Career Works centers and many regional and local economic development websites are still soliciting applications from companies.
I’ll remember this because it’s practical and it’s direct – my favorite things.