Ohio county offers food assistance recipients free driver training

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Student DriverResidents receiving food assistance in an Ohio county may be eligible to attend truck driving school for free thanks to a partnership between the Hamilton County Job and Family Services (JFS), the state and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service.

JFS , in Hamilton County, started the program with financial support from those agencies because it wanted a way to help connect food assistance recipients in its area with well-paying jobs, says JFS’ Chief Communications Officer Brian Gregg. JFS also offers workforce development programs, in addition to its food assistance programs, to help individuals find jobs and the organization receives a lot of interest in truck driving.

“It’s a profession that is need of employees so we felt this would be a good match,” Gregg said. 

Qualified applicants, if accepted, receive free tuition and costs to attend Napier Truck Driver Training. They undergo a full-time, five-week training course and receive 40 hours of classroom training and 120 hours of hands-on equipment training.

The trucking partnership was named one of the 100 Brilliant Ideas at Work by the National Association of Counties in June. The association also awarded the partnership its 2017 Achievement Award for government innovation in May. A dozen people participated in the first round of the program, which started in August 2016. Those graduates now have their Class A CDL and are working full-time trucking jobs.

“By earning a living wage and achieving long-term employment, they are stabilizing their family and establishing long-term self-sufficiency,” said Moira Weir, JFS’ director. “Stronger families make stronger communities.”

Applications are now being accepted for the second round of the program. 

In order to be considered for the program, applicants must:

  • Currently live in Hamilton County, Ohio
  • Be eligible for, and receiving, food assistance from the county
  • Be able to read, write and speak the English language sufficiently to converse with the general public
  • Be able to understand highway traffic signs and signals in the English language
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have a valid Ohio driver’s license
  • Be able to get to training, which is located in Hamilton, Ohio

Interested residents are advised to contact JFS’ Jackie Farrier-Hogan at 513-946-1117 or farrij@jfs.hamilton-co.org.