October 12, 2022
Sarah Littlefield, of Pittsfield, Illinois, received an Individual Achievement Award representing Region 14 at the 2022 Illinois Workforce Partnership Luncheon on September 8th at the Crown Plaza in Springfield. The Individual Achievement Award recognizes an individual whose progression through the services leading to their goal was timely and focused, and who attained a credential and/or job in their field of training. Sarah epitomizes what Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), Western Illinois Workforce Innovation Board, and Two River Regional Council of Public Officials’ Workforce Development clients can achieve. She was determined to make a better life for herself and her children. She knew she was capable of more, and she was right.
Sarah first applied for assistance in August of 2021, as a single mom of 3 girls, a Certified Nursing Assistant, working full-time, struggled financially, and lived in a tiny, cramped two-bedroom trailer. She qualified for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps). Sarah wanted to be a nurse but waited until her children were just a little older, as she did not want to miss their early development. She said they were ‘just living, not living life, but surviving life day-by-day.’ She applied for the WIOA grant to obtain her Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) license. She also applied for SNAP Supportive Services while she was in vocational training.
Sarah scored high with healthcare services on her JobLink Career Cluster assessment and stated that her inspiration to be a nurse came from her mother, who is also a nurse. She scored well on the nursing entrance exam, which gave her the confidence she needed. Sarah’s research determined that the nearest nursing school for her was 72 miles round-trip and without transportation reimbursement, she would be unable to complete her training. Later, her clinicals were even further at 117 miles round-trip. Sarah received tuition assistance, books, fees, scrubs, shoes, and mileage reimbursement for training from WIOA. She also received monthly gas cards from SNAP to cover getting to work.
Sarah’s employer worked with Sarah, taking her to part-time weekends, so she could continue her training, and offered her a position as an LPN when she was licensed. Sarah stated that she was able to survive and thrive because she was not working full-time and trying to excel at a rigorous course of study. She graduated on June 30, 2022. Sarah also passed her final licensure test in July.
Sarah started in the program at $15 per hour barely making her monthly expenses, but she was able to keep her Pell Grant. She later received a raise in 2022, and this enabled her to move into a four-bedroom home. As an LPN, Sarah now makes $27/hour at her current employer. Sarah has almost doubled her income in less than a year, moved into a home that fits her family, and has a sustaining career thanks to the WIOA program.
Sarah stated, “I did want to add a huge thank you to you, and the WIOA program. I couldn’t have done this without the support. Your program allowed me to not only complete the program, but absolutely thrive. With your help, and the support from WIOA, I graduated valedictorian.”
The Illinois Workforce Partnership are leaders in Illinois comprised of 46 workforce development professionals representing 10 Economic Development Regions and 22 Workforce Innovation Boards in the state of Illinois.