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System Change


System Change is defined as “changes in organizational culture, policies and procedures within individual organizations or across organizations that enhance or streamline access and reduce or eliminate barriers to needed services by a target population,”.[1]  Within the context of the OpportUNITy plan there are two foci:

  1.       Apply the Centralized Intake model to address homelessness and job training and placement
  2.       Reduce the financial barriers of the cliff effect

Centralized Intake – Job training and Placement

The state of Iowa’s unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country, however, skills gap persists. Middle-skill jobs make up the majority of the jobs in Iowa’s labor market, yet, only 33% of working Iowans likely have the skills and credentials for those types of jobs.


In order to connect people to the available jobs in the community a system needs to be implemented that contains the current job seekers with the work they are interested and qualified to do. It needs to be a system that can update the individual’s information as they gain more education and experience important for their involvement in the workforce.


A dynamic system will include tracking of individual successes in education, employment, employment retention and employment advancement. The system could have one intake center who sees all individuals or multiple points of entry in a collaboration of agencies who all enter job seeker information into an electronic system shared by partners


Cliff Effect

Working full time, year round is not enough to guarantee a middle-class standard of living. One in six working Iowa families does not earn enough to meet basic needs. There are a number of things that could be done to help such families move into the middle class.


Policies are needed to improve both the demand-side and the supply-side of the labor market. On the demand side, we need more middle–class jobs with decent wages and benefits. On the supply side, we need more workers with the education and skills needed to qualify for most good-paying jobs.


What we focus on here is State policies called work supports that help low-wage working families survive and keep their children out of poverty, and provide a stepping stone to a better education and a better job as well as local policies that create barriers to financial self-sufficiency.


Cliff Effect – Iowa Child Care Assistance (CCA)

Current State Child Care Assistance Legislation creates a huge disincentive for parents to advance in jobs to earn a financially self-sufficient wage, called the cliff. The cliff effect in Iowa’s CCA program is severe. A parent deciding whether to find a job that pays more per hour or allows more hours per week could find herself facing a dilemma: The higher earnings could push her over the benefit cliff just as she is nearing a level of earnings sufficient to get by, so that getting the better job would make her family worse off. While Iowa’s CCA is sufficient to bring a single parent family up to the basic needs budget level of resource at low earnings level, it disappears completely when the hourly wage hits $13.65. The result is a sudden drop in family resources of $8,736. The family doesn’t reach the basic needs level again until the hourly wage hits almost $25.00. This affects married couples with children in the same way.


If the legislation changed so that a family using Iowa’s CCA had an income increase, the families co-pay would increase and the Iowa’s CCA benefit would decrease the amount the co-page increased until, over time, the family would pay the entire child care fees, this would result in financially self-sufficient families.



[1] Desert Vista Consulting, Karen W. Linkins and Jennifer Bryant