Thanks to a big federal grant, Iowa will soon have more help available for new residents looking to get settled, to become citizens, and to find work. Barbara Bobb is head of the Iowa Workforce “Targeted Services” program. Currently she says there are 3 “new Iowans Centers,” in Sioux City, Muscatine, and Ottumwa…in addition to migrant seasonal farm-worker outreach specialists in Waterloo, Cedar Rapids, Ottumwa, Storm Lake and Perry. The program began with a couple centers in 1999, and Bobb says since then they’ve proven their worth. The Federal Department of Labor is now sending Iowa 850-thousand dollars funding to expand the New Iowans Center, to show other states how it’s done successfully. Hoping to make the money go as far as possible, the office will expand existing outreach offices with an additional staff person, to offer a fuller range of services to everyone who wants to use the New Iowans’ services. She says some of the services the New Iowans Centers offer are: English as a Second Language classes, immigration assistance, computer access, referrals to other agencies, resume’ making, relocation services like assistance getting housing, financial education classes, business counseling, interpretation and translation, and others. Bobb explains the new federal grant will fund those expanded centers for just three years. She says the state will have that much time to figure out how to continue funding for the program.
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