SB 957 - This act establishes the "Workforce Diploma Program" within the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development to assist students in obtaining a high school diploma and in developing employability and career and technical skills.
Before August 16, 2023, and annually each year after, the Department shall issue a request for applications for interested program providers to become approved providers to participate in the program. Applications shall furnish evidence that such interested provider meets certain criteria set forth in the act, including having at least two years of experience providing adult dropout recovery services.
The Department shall announce approved program providers prior to October 16 each year, and approved program providers shall begin enrolling students before November 15 each year.
The Department shall pay approved program providers amounts set forth in the act for the completion of certain milestones by students. However, no program provider shall receive funding for a student if such provider already receives federal or state funding or private tuition for such student.
In order to receive payments, program providers shall be required to submit monthly invoices to the Department before the eleventh calendar day of each month for the milestones met by students in the previous month. The Department shall pay approved program providers in the order in which invoices are submitted until all available funds are exhausted.
The Department shall also provide a written update to program providers by the last day of each month, which shall include the aggregate total dollars that have been paid to the providers, and the estimated number of enrollments still available for the program year.
Prior to July 16 of each year, each provider shall report certain information set forth in the act to the Department, including the total number of students who have been funded through the program, the total number of credits earned, the total number of employability skills certifications issued, the total number of industry-recognized credentials earned, and the total number of graduates.
The Department shall review data from each approved program provider, at the end of the second fiscal year of the program, to ensure that each provider is achieving minimum program performance standards. Any provider failing to meet such standards shall be placed on probationary status for the remainder of the fiscal year. If a provider fails to meet the standards for two consecutive years, such provider shall be removed from the approved provider list.
Any diploma issued under this act shall be recognized as a secondary school diploma by the state.
This act is identical to SB 139 (2021) and SB 839 (2020).