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Benefits Bridge: Addressing the Benefits Cliff for Women in the Workplace

6/13/2022 2:21:53 PM

The author of this blog, Domonique Broomfield, is the current Peer Mentor for Dress for Success Cincinnati.

Dress for Success Cincinnati (DFSC) is proud to announce that we have been selected by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services in partnership with Easterseals of Greater Cincinnati, to participate in a pilot program, a peer mentor initiative, known as the Benefits Bridge. 

As part of this program, we have welcomed Domonique Broomfield as our newest staff member to work out of our office as a ‘Peer Mentor,’ mentoring clients referred by Hamilton County Jobs and Family Services, as well as DFSC clients. A ‘Peer Mentor’ is someone who has already bridged the gap between benefits and self-sufficiency themselves and, thus, can authentically relate, while providing our families with a supportive mentoring relationship. The goal of Benefits Bridge peer mentors is to serve as role models and offer direct support to current public assistance recipients to champion their own paths towards independence.  

We are excited to participate in Benefits Bridge, as it is a collective action to solve the benefits cliff issue many women in the workforce face. The term ‘benefits cliffs’ describes when someone is offered a raise but cannot accept that raise because they would no longer have the opportunity to collect government benefits. In this situation, despite the increase in income, that person’s family would suffer due to the absence of government benefits.  

After hearing employers report a substantial number of employees who were rejecting raises, the State of Ohio recognized this issue—and COVID-19's impact on the issue—and is taking action to fix this problem.  

It invested two million dollars over 2021-2023 to develop a pilot program to address this issue. It put out a request for proposal (RFP) to four counties, including Hamilton County. Easterseals of Greater Cincinnati responded to this RFP, highlighting the agency’s existing peer mentoring program, and was selected for a contract.  

Easterseals is dedicated to ‘breaking down barriers to build a more diverse and inclusive workforce and community.’ The organization focuses specifically on breaking down these barriers for veterans, people with disabilities, and people with economic disadvantages.  

Easterseals organized a partnership, including Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency, DFSC, Talbert House, and the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio. Each of these organizations has hired an on-site peer mentor that will have up to 25 clients on their caseload. All organizations in the partnership will provide wrap-around services to support Benefits Bridge clients.  

We are thrilled to have welcomed Domonique as our peer mentor and to expand the impact of our work with under-employed women. Domonique has over 15 years of experience helping individuals transform and construct a life they love as a vision coach and mentor. She is a National Licensed Mental Health and Substance Abuse first aid instructor with the National Council for Mental Wellbeing and is trauma informed certified. She has excelled in using her experience and accomplishments to benefit others, and we look forward to the influence she will have at DFSC. 

Through the Benefits Bridge program, we hope that we can affect change in women's lives and provide learnings that can help lead to systems-level change to combat benefits cliffs. Our goal is to successfully mentor our Benefits Cliff clients and provide them with tools, support, and confidence to become gainfully employed and economically independent.  

If you or a woman you know, wants to work with our peer mentor or career coach, please email Domonique at dbroomfield@dfscincy.org.