AB 628: Breaking Barriers to Employment Initiative
AB 628: Breaking Barriers to Employment Initiative

The California Legislature expanded the Breaking Barriers to Employment Initiative by passing Assembly Bill 628, which amends Section 14033 of the Unemployment Insurance Code. 

AB 628 builds on the 2017 California Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which made programs and services available to assist individuals with employment barriers with finding opportunities to join the workforce. Specifically, AB 628 seeks to enhance racial and economic justice, in addition to promoting employment. In doing so, AB 628 revises the 2017 grant selection criteria requirements, the grant application requirements, the grant evaluation criteria, the populations that are eligible to be served by grants, and the activities eligible for grant funding.

AB 628 further requires the California Workforce Development Board to issue an interim and a final report containing information on the Initiative on the target populations and the fiscal savings associated with the program, and other specified information.

AB 628 also expands the list of eligible populations who may be served by the Initiative to include:

  • Persons who reside in cities that are disproportionately impacted by violence or are enrolled in violence prevention or mitigation programs;
  • Population groups that are disproportionately impacted by occupational segregation and who are underrepresented in jobs as defined by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing in their enforcement of the California Equal Pay Act;
  • Populations that have been disproportionately impacted by unemployment, job interruption and displacement during the pandemic; and
  • Persons diagnosed with autism.

The groups that were already eligible for programs and grants under the 2017 law include:

  • Youths who are at risk of disconnection or disconnected from the education system or employment;
  • Women seeking training or education to move into nontraditional fields of employment’
  • Displaced workers and long-term unemployed;
  • Low-wage workers;
  • Persons for whom English is not their primary language;
  • Economically disadvantaged persons;
  • CalWORKs participants;
  • Persons who are incarcerated and soon to be released or formerly incarcerated;
  • Armed services veterans;
  • Native Americans;
  • Migrants or seasonal farmworkers;
  • Persons with developmental or other disabilities’
  • Any other population with barriers to employment identified in subdivision (j) of Section 14005;
  • Immigrants;
  • Persons who are victims of domestic violence or community violence;
  • Persons over 50 years of age who need retraining for in-demand skills; and
  • Population groups with disproportionate numbers of people living in ZIP Codes of concentrated poverty.


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