An enhanced workforce training program for Delawareans on food stamps is being scaled down next year.
The First State started Delaware WONDER in 2015 with a $18.8 million federal grant. But that grant is going away.
WONDER helps people eligible for SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Delaware's traditional SNAP workforce jobs program serves about 8,000 people annually. But WONDER differs from typical cookie cutter training by offering defined career tracks like hospitality, manufacturing and construction.
Director of the Division of Social Services Ray Fitzgerald said the WONDER program will continue after grant funding ends in December - but without the same financial resources. It will get limited state funding.
“So we’ve been scaling down the program to a number that we think is going to be more reasonable once we start doing our own in-state program,” he said.
Fitzgerald said that means the number of people served will be slashed by about half. He says they’ll serve a minimum of 1,200 people next year, less than half the number they were helping at its peak.
“My goal would be at minimum for us to be able to serve 100 people a month," he said. "But it could be, it probably won’t be less, could be more.”
Between Feb. 1st 2016 and July 1st 2018, the WONDER program served about 3,220 people. About 1,315 of those participants gained employment while in the program.
Fitzgerald said the Department of Health and Social Services doesn’t have a specific budget request for additional state funding right now because it’s not sure what it may need.
A spokesman for Gov. John Carney said it’s too early in the budget process to know whether he’ll seek more state funding for the program in his recommended budget.
Note: The has been updated to reflect that Delaware WONDER is not the state's only SNAP workforce training program.