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Working with Community Colleges to Link WtW/FSS Families to Employment Opportunities in New York, NY

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Agency: New York City Department
of Housing Preservation and Development
New York, NY
Housing Choice Voucher Program Size: 19,000 Units
WtW Voucher Program Size: 700 Units

Challenge

New York City's Department of Housing Preservation and Development's Division of Tenant Resources (NYC HPD) noticed that WtW and FSS families often lacked the crucial skills needed to obtain employment, maintain a job, or increase employment income. Many families lacked the basic English language skills and/or computer skills to even enter into the workforce. A second challenge was the large number (more than 2,200) of FSS/WtW clients, spread throughout a large metropolitan area and coming from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

Solution

NYC HPD reached out to LaGuardia Community College's Division of Adult and Continuing Education to develop the Career Advancement Program (CAP). Although there were existing job training resources throughout New York City prior to this program, CAP tightly linked job training resources to the clients and programs of NY HPD. More than 19 months of intense planning and coordination resulted in the successful roll out of the CAP program.

Implementation

CAP provides adult family members participating in FSS and/or WtW access to career planning and job training through LaGuardia Community College. Participants receive assessments from job counselors, who help clients identify realistic employment goals and work with them to improve related job skills. In addition, CAP participants are assisted in job hunting and interviewing.

Developing CAP took significant time, energy and resources - more than 19 months of intense planning and coordination. A local community college well known for providing adult education for students of all ethnic backgrounds, LaGuardia Community College had the resources to provide NYC HPD's WtW and FSS families with job training classes. Nicole Levin, Director of Special Projects for NYC HPD's Division of Tenant Resources, collaborated with staff at LaGuardia Community College's Division of Adult and Continuing Education to design a way to link the needs of WtW and FSS families with the services provided by the college.

The program's creators dedicated significant time to working with the community college's staff to develop a proposal that clearly stated the program goals. The intent was to design a program flexible enough to be tailored to meet each individual's needs. To do so, they asked themselves: "Who are the WtW/FSS families we serve and what are their needs?" Asking these questions and thinking in advance of program implementation about program goals and individual needs helped the partners to develop an adaptable, useful and practical program.

The CAP program has three main components: career plan and assessment; job training; and job placement.

Career Plan and Adjustment

The first step for a CAP participant is an appointment for a Career Plan and Assessment Evaluation with an experienced career counselor. This evaluation determines the participants educational and employment status, as well as identifies short and long term educational and employment goals. In addition, the evaluation attempts to identify possible obstacles to achieving these goals. At the end of the evaluation, the participant has developed a step-by-step plan to reach their goal in three to five years.

Job Training

The information gathered during the Career Plan and Assessment is entered into the client's database so counselors can track progress and identify additional self-sufficiency activities. In addition, the database allows NYC HPD and LaGuardia staff to design future curricula based on identified client interests and needs.

Participants are then encouraged to register for available classes taught by LaGuardia professors. In response to the first 100 assessments performed, CAP offered the following job training classes:

  • Certified Nurses Aid Training
  • Medical Billings & Records Training
  • Entry Level Computer Skills
  • Intermediate Computer Skills
  • Preparing for the GED

Currently, 40 families are participating in classes, and CAP staff is planning for a second series of course offerings. In addition, CAP participants may attend classes at other New York City community colleges if LaGuardia does not offer the class.

Job Placement

CAP participants also receive help finding employment. Employment Specialists at LaGuardia Community College help participants write resumes and provide workshops on locating a job. The Employment Specialists have positive relationships with job placement services, local employers and the Department of Labor. These relationships help the Specialists match CAP participants to jobs suitable to their interests and skill levels.

Results

The CAP program has been in operation for approximately 7 months. Despite its newness, it has already experienced many successes:

  • To date, CAP has placed 15 participants in jobs, including positions such as Maintenance Technician, Administrative Medical Aid Assistant, and Legal Secretary.


  • Over 230 Career Plans have been completed.


  • Program growth continues as more WtW/FSS families hear about the programs through mailings, at meetings, and by word-of-mouth.


  • For participants enrolling in its intensive summer training classes, CAP is offering their children the opportunity to participate in LaGuardia's"Children's College."


  • Luncheons have been held to allow CAP participants the opportunity to network and share experiences.


  • Successful CAP participants are invited to meet with NYC HPD's Housing Choice Voucher Homeownership counselor to learn more about participation in this new pilot program.

Contact Information: For More Information about CAP, please contact Nicole Levin at levinn@hpd.nyc.gov.

 
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