Connecticut’s Career Ladder Identifier and Financial Forecaster (CLIFF)

Connecticut’s Career Ladder Identifier and Financial Forecaster (CLIFF) was created by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta to illustrate the interaction between wages, public benefits, and tax credits in bringing (or failing to bring) families to economic stability. It also demonstrates the significant taxpayer savings that result from career advancement.

CLIFF is a project of Connecticut’s 2Gen Initiative, Connecticut’s Governor’s Workforce Council, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

What are the goals of CLIFF?

  • Educate policymakers and legislators on how existing public benefit structures create cliffs for families and inform policy decisions that improve economic mobility.
  • Assist families in understanding wage and benefits interaction so they can make informed choices when pursuing training and employment opportunities and pinpoint savings opportunities to help cushion them in their journey to self-sufficiency.

How can CLIFF be used?

CLIFF serves a wide range of purposes for numerous audiences. There are two distinct CLIFF tools:

  • CLIFF Dashboard: The CLIFF Dashboard is primarily a policy decision-making tool. Policymakers and legislators can use the CLIFF Dashboard to analyze and propose legislative changes to programs. Workforce and human service professionals, employers, and nonprofits can use it to inform changes in practices, policies, and system alignment.
  • CLIFF Planner: The CLIFF Planner is primarily an individual decision-making tool. Workers, students, and their families can use the CLIFF Planner to identify the training programs and career paths that will increase their earnings and improve their pathway to self-sufficiency. Coming 2021.

The CLIFF Dashboard allows the user to select: one of five Workforce Development Board (WDB) regions, one of eight in-demand career paths and their associated occupations, one of eight family types, and one of six public benefits packages. The CLIFF Dashboard uses the University of Washington’s Self-Sufficiency Standard for Connecticut to determine how much take-home pay is needed to pay basic bills such as rent, groceries, and child care, without public assistance. Watch a demo of the CLIFF dashboard here.

What programs are included in the CLIFF Dashboard?

  • Tax Credits: Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC)
  • Cash Assistance: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Food: Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and National School Lunch Program
  • Healthcare: Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Medicare, or Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidy
  • Utilities: Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • Preschool: Head Start Early Childhood Program
  • Child care: Child Care Development Fund Subsidies (CCDF)
  • Housing: Section 8 Housing Voucher

How can I use the CLIFF Dashboard to analyze a policy proposal?

The CLIFF Dashboard can be used to analyze how policy changes in public benefit programs affect a family’s take-home pay along particular career pathways and gains (or losses) to career advancement over time. Additionally, it demonstrates how career advancement affects federal and state budgets, by increasing taxes paid and decreasing public assistance.

In summer 2021, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta used the CLIFF Dashboard to simulate state policy changes to cash assistance, housing, child care, and tax credits. The 2Gen Initiative and Governor’s Workforce Council are exploring additional policy changes.

How do people learn to use the CLIFF Dashboard?

The 2Gen Initiative has developed a user manual for caseworkers to use with clients in a variety of workforce settings. In summer 2021, the 2Gen Initiative beta-tested use of the CLIFF tool at four sites in Connecticut, including an early childhood education center, high school, and two job centers. University of Connecticut conducted the evaluation, showing promising results, and informing a broader adoption of the tool statewide.

Last updated November 22, 2021