The Department of Workforce Services and its employees received two award recognitions this week for their accomplishments in serving families and addressing poverty.
Tracy Gruber: CAP Utah's 2017 Government Official of the Year
Tracy Gruber was named Government Official of the Year by Community Action Partnership (CAP) of Utah for her outstanding work on intergenerational poverty — one of the state’s most important issues. Tracy serves as the senior advisor of the Intergenerational Poverty Initiative and has helped state agencies make better-informed decisions on prioritizing funding to address the issue, authored four annual reports on intergenerational poverty, and assisted 13 counties to build strategic plans for addressing the issue in their communities.
Tracy also serves as the Office of Child Care Director for the department. Through this role, she has led her office to make evidence-based decisions to improve early childhood development — one of the focus areas for intergenerational poverty. She has also coordinated with other divisions within Workforce Services to ensure their programs are supported and aligned to help their customers in intergenerational poverty.
Department of Workforce Services Program & Training Team: 2017 NASTA Distinguished Service Award
Karla Aguirre accepted the 2017 National Association of State TANF Administrator's (NASTA) Distinguished Service Award on behalf of the department's Program, Policy & Training Team for its great efforts in helping those in poverty. Through its Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program’s “FEP Refocus” (Family Employment Program) initiative, the team uses a two-generation approach that focuses on the whole family, instead of a single generation, which has seen promising results. The team also worked on improving the overall quality of their staff trainings and improving the way customers access resources and removing time barriers to better support their needs.
The team participated in 80 hours of in-person trainings to improve their effectiveness in family centered case management, human development, trauma awareness, motivational interviewing, coaching and executive function. The additional effort from the department has had a great impact on the families it serves. It has seen an increase Utah’s TANF positive closures, a decrease in the number of negative TANF closures, and increased staff confidence in working with families.