Pathways to Employment
The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (OPCA) the New York State Department of Labor (DOL) and county probation departments are partners in providing tools to be used by unemployed probationers in securing gainful employment. The criminal justice literature is clear that legitimate employment is part of the pro-social bonding needed to stabilize criminal offenders. OPCA's goal through this initiative is to increase the number of probationers who are employed and able to support their families, as well as pay restitution to victims and other fees. We know that employment helps to reduce probationer recidivism and enhance public safety.
Pathways to Employment - Phase 1: Employment Matters (EM)
Pathways to Employment - Phase 2: Ready, Set Work! (RSW!)
Pathways to Employment - Pase 3: Retention Counts (RC)
Offender Workforce Development Specialist Training
Employment Matters is 6.5 hour training to equip probation officers and other service providers with specific information that they can use to direct and help motivate individuals supervised who are unemployed or need help with finding quality employment.
The training includes the following topic areas:
Module 1: Career Assessments
Module 2: Legal Issues and Financial Incentives
Module 3: Barriers and Resources
Module 4: Job Retention
Module 5: Ready, Set, Work! (Overview)
Module 6: Using the Local One Stop
Generally these trainings are held in the local One Stop, reinforcing the partnership with county and Department of Labor employment resources.
During Phase II of this initiative, probation departments utilize probation officers trained as Offender Workforce Development Specialists (OWDS) to facilitate job readiness groups for probationers. These groups provide supervision contacts and can greatly increase the job readiness skills of the unemployed individuals under probation supervision. They may include community based organizations, businesses or volunteers to present selected segments of these groups.
Ready Set, Work! is a 20 hour skill based training to equip probationers with the necessary tools to get and retain quality employment. There is also an emphasis on career planning and advancement, to encourage longevity in legitimate employment. The RSW! Curriculum includes the following modules:
Module 1: Career Assessments
Module 2: Legal Issues and Financial Incentives
Module 3: Job Applications
Module 4 : Job Interviews
Module 5 : Budget and Spending Plan
Module 6: Employer Expectations
Module 7: Barriers and Resources
Module 8: Job Retention
Module 9: Job Search
Module 10: Using the Local One Stop
The following counties now have certified OWDS :
- St. Lawrence
The following Alternative to Incarceration programs have certified OWDS:
- BASICS, NYC
- Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services, NYC
- Center for Community Alternatives , Syracuse and NYC
- Center for Employment Opportunities, NYC
- Doe Fund, NYC
- Education and Assistance Corporation, NYC
- Fortune Society, NYC
- Fifth Avenue Committee, NYC
- Harlem Community Justice Center (CCI), NYC
- Osborne Association, NYC
- Palladia, NYC
- Project More, Poughkeepsie
- Project for Success, Chemung
- TASC of the Capital District, Albany
- Trinity Institution, Albany
- Women's Prison Association, NYC
Retention Counts! (RC!) is a 16 hour program for graduates of the RSW! groups. The RC! group assists probationers to address problems that they encounter once employed and develop strategies to recognize and deal with these problems, as well as personal or family issues which can effect employment, before they result in job loss. This group is also for those who have completed RSW! and have not yet secured appropriate employment and those who may need to be reemployed due to job loss. Role modeling and skill building are important components of the program. The RC! curriculum includes the following modules:
Module 1: Resolving Workplace Conflict
Module 2: Effective Communication in the Workplace
Module 3: Workplace Culture, Work Ethic and the Power of Attitude
Module 4: Decision Making and Problem Solving in the Workplace
Module 5: Workplace Productivity and Advancement
Module 6: Your Money Management
Module 7: Managing Workplace Stress
Module 8: Your Personal Best
Through an ongoing relationship with the National Institute of Corrections (NIC), OPCA has been the sponsoring agency for two teams selected by NIC to travel out of state to be trained as OWDS. The first team of six trained in 2005, and the second team of 11 trained in 2007. These teams received a grant from NIC to train 25 new OWDS’s in NYS. As of August 2010 DCJS OPCA, DOL and County Probation Departments have trained three classes with 64 probation and ATI staffers finishing to become OWDS. Eighty-one (81) probation and community corrections professionals have now completed the 180-hour NIC certified training program. OPCA will conduct its next NIC OWDS Program during the weeks February 28th-March 4th, April 11th-15th, and May 23rd-26th of 2011.
RSW! Groups are currently in operation in several counties across NYS. Albany, Cattaraugus, Dutchess, Erie, Monroe, NYC, Ontario, Onondaga, Schenectady, St. Lawrence, Suffolk, Ulster, and Warren counties all have probation officers or other staff trained as Offender Workforce Development Specialists. Many in the Alternatives to Incarceration Community are also using RSW! or elements of it, in their job readiness groups. BASICS, NYC; Center for Community Alternatives , Syracuse; Education and Assistance Corporation, NYC; Fortune Society, NYC; TASC of the Capital District, Albany; Trinity Institution, Albany; and Women's Prison Association, NYC ; are all currently using the program with several other agencies slated to begin by the end of the year. The RSW! curriculum is intended to be facilitated by Offender Workforce Development Specialists (OWDS). OPCA’s collaboration with the NYS Department of Labor and several county probation departments has trained 64 OWDS in Albany. Along with the 17 people who attended NIC’s national trainings out of state, 81 people sponsored by OPCA have successfully completed the OWDS training.
The Albany County Probation Employment Services Unit piloted the first RSW!-Sex Offender’s (SO) group in October 2009. The group met in Albany over a five-week period. Probationers from the first group were registered sex offenders from Albany and Schenectady Counties. Since that time Schenectady County has joined with Albany and co-facilitated the groups. There have been four completed sessions and one is currently running. From the original four sessions, there were 18 participants were able to seek work after program completion and nine (50%) obtained employment. Co-facilitating these groups are Matt Charton and Craig MacNeil from Albany County Probation and Fran Ricci from Schenectady County Probation. Facilitating the Special supplemental module “Sex Offender Order and Conditions” have been Frank Cangiano (Albany County Probation) and Kathy Murtagh (Schenectady County Probation) both are probation officers with a sex offender case load.
This project was initiated by Albany County to bring RSW! to individuals with specialized convictions. OWDS’s Matt Charton and Craig MacNeil, along with several others from Albany County including Principal Probation Officer Bill Connors teamed with OPCA and forensic psychologist Richard Hamill, to work on RSW !- Sex Offenders, the first group to be identified as in need of a specialized curriculum. Also involved in the development of this project have been OWDS Fran Ricci from Schenectady County and OWDS Beth Bobela Dutchess County as well as OWDS Elaine Kost from the NYS Department of Labor. Probation officers supervising sex offenders as well as others were involved in this year long process. The RSW!-SO Committee also included , Margaret McDermott , Margaret Jeffers, Frank Cangiano, and Tyrone Keck from Albany County Probation; Kathleen Murtagh and Eric Lindh from Schenectady County Probation; OWDS Mark Pisano, Ulster County Probation. OPCA was represented by Bernard Wilson, Gary Govel, Laura Zeliger, and OWDS Cynthia Blair.