Migration Policy Institute
Overcoming WIOA’s Barriers to Immigrant and Refugee Adult Learners
Art Ellison, Policy Chair, National Council of State Directors of Adult Education; and Bureau Administrator, Adult Education, State of New Hampshire
Charles Kamasaki, Senior Cabinet Advisor, National Council of La Raza
Margie McHugh, Director, MPI National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy
Paula Schriefer, President and CEO, Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning
Adult English language, education, citizenship/civics, and workforce training services are critical in supporting the economic, linguistic, and civic integration of immigrants and refugees. Federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs and the state partnership and investments they require comprise the central architecture for provision of these crucial services in communities across the United States.
Federal, state, and local agencies are working feverishly to implement WIOA’s new and complex provisions, which place a high premium on employment outcomes and pursuit of postsecondary degrees and credentials. The law’s narrow accountability measures are expected by many to make it more difficult for local providers to serve immigrants and refugees seeking to learn English or improve their basic skills, especially those who are not on track to earn postsecondary credentials or do not have this as a goal. These include a wide range of individuals, for example those seeking simply to prepare for the naturalization exam, refugees and other new arrivals seeking cultural and system navigation skills upon first settling in the United States, or mothers who want to support their young children’s kindergarten readiness and school success.
Join us for a discussion examining aspects of the law that will likely limit prospects for immigrants and refugees to receive English language and other services they may need, serious weaknesses in WIOA regulations proposed by the Obama administration that will govern implementation of crucial services for immigrant integration, and strategies that may help ensure more equitable access for immigrants and refugees to services provided under the law.