Montana Help-Link Program Reports

"{HelpLink}...has opened doors for me to get on my feet. It’s opened doors to go down a career path in the medical field to better support myself and my kids. And without that program I don’t think I’d be where I’m at today." - Amanda Childers, Thompson Falls, MT

Oversight

Senate Bill 405 (2015 Session) established the Montana Health and Economic Livelihood Partnership (HELP) Plan to expand Medicaid healthcare coverage in Montana for eligible adults with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty threshold. SB 405 was also known as Medicaid Expansion and was introduced by Senator Ed Buttrey (SD 13, Great Falls). This legislation also authorized the Montana Department of Labor & Industry (MTDLI) to administer a voluntary workforce development program in conjunction with the health coverage component. HELP-Link was designed to improve the wage earnings of Montana HELP Plan participants through workforce and employment services training, with the goal of improving wages enough to reduce long-term dependence on Medicaid. HELP-Link officially launched on January 1, 2016.

SB 405 establishes a Montana HELP Act oversight committee which is to meet at least quarterly. The committee consists of nine voting members, including legislative members, industry experts, a representative of the state auditor’s office, and a member of the general public or staff member of the Governor’s Office. The Committee is to generally review the implementation of the programs established in the HELP Act. Meeting minutes, committee reports, and material provided to the committee can be found here.

Participation

Since its launch in 2016, HELP-Link enrollment continues to grow. The table below provides the most recent participation counts, which is updated on a monthly basis.

Help-Link Flowchart

Table 1. MT DLI Workforce Participation Numbers for Montana HELP Plan Enrollees
  Total Over-the-Month Growth (%)
HELP-Link Survey Completers 12,129 1.6%
ME Enrollees Receiving DLI Workforce Services 24,528 3.3%
HELP-Link Participants 2,900 2.3%

Source: MT DLI on 6/4/2018. Total since 01/01/2016. ME Enrollees receiving workforce services are people who have received staff-assisted services from MT DLI while on Medicaid. This includes HELP Link, RESEA, WIOA, 100% appointments, Wagner-Peyser services, apprenticeships, etc.

Outcomes

HELP-Link has expanded Montana’s labor force with trained workers. A report conducted by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research finds that HELP-Link participation increased labor force participation rates by 6% among low-income Montanans (link to the attached BBER report here). HELP-Link participants are trained in a variety of high-demand occupations—including registered nursing, nursing assistants, heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, and medical records and HIT. After completing their training, most participants find jobs with higher wages than before.

For more information on the HELP-Link program and outcomes for participants, please see the following program reports:

Success Stories

Jim Krumvieda, HELP-Link Enrollee

Jim is a single dad with two young children aged 6 and 10. As a full-time student in the Respiratory Therapist Program at Great Falls College MSU, he was unable to work full-time and was taking out a high amount of student loans, plus applying for additional scholarship funds to cover tuition, books, supplies, testing fees, and other education expenses. Great Falls Job service was able to help out with a share of tuition dollars, plus make payments on his vehicle insurance so he could continue to drive his kids and himself to school. In May 2016, Jim graduated and was offered a full-time position as a Respiratory Therapist in Billings. Respiratory Therapists earn an average wage of $52,600 in Montana, putting Jim on the right path to financial success.


Josh Wilson, HELP-Link Enrollee

Josh had previously completed training for truck driving after losing his job. He obtained his Commercial Driver’s License, and was driving over-the-road. He was often unable to make it home once per month, and regrettably, his prolonged absences had been very challenging for his wife and four children, one of which had intensive special needs. Josh’s wife (who had been attending nursing school) had noticed a heavy equipment mechanic position that opened locally, and encouraged him to apply. He ultimately secured the position, based in part on the fact he had some previous experience in the industry, coupled with a CDL. The job opportunity was contingent upon his ability to obtain the tools necessary to begin work on heavy equipment. Unfortunately, Josh had previously sold all of his tools after he lost his job and needed cash to move his family for another opportunity.

The new mechanic position offered Josh better wages and a better situation for his family. Josh could be home with his family each evening, and he was offered $20.00 per hour as a starting wage as a mechanic (which was several dollars more per hour than the truck driving position). As a means to assist the struggling family, and to help Josh acquire the much-coveted position, he was enrolled into the HELP-Link and WIOA Adult programs. Josh received funding for the purchase of the roughly $1,200 in tools needed to start the new job.

Josh is now earning an outstanding hourly rate, plus overtime wages, and loves his new job so he can be home with his family every night!


The next HELP-Link report is schedule to be released in August of 2018 covering the program activities in FY2018. A link to that report will be provided here once it is released.

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