For people who find themselves in the criminal justice system, transitioning back into society, including getting a job and accessing housing, can often be challenging.
To ease that transition King County removed criminal history disclosure requirements from its employment applications early last year. At the same time, the County also began a partnership with Goodwill to better prepare County inmates for release.
The partnership began with a Goodwill Job Training pilot at King County Correctional Facility.
“The Goodwill Job Training program actually started out as a pilot at KCCF for about a year before being made available at MRJC,” explained Nancy Garcia, Project and Program Manager with the County’s Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention.
So far, five classes have been taught at KCCF – including two for female students – and Maleng Regional Justice Center has now held two classes. Nine students earned certificates for completing MRJC’s first Goodwill Employment and Reintegration Strategies job training class this July, and six others earned their certificates last month.
Participants in the seven-week program meet for two and a half hours twice per week to learn how to prepare to find jobs upon release. The program includes training in resume writing, interviewing and disclosure of criminal history. In order to complete the class, students must meet both attendance and participation expectations, as well as demonstrate abilities to perform competencies including: developing strategies to explore careers, being competent in job search activities with a conviction history, and completing both a resume and a mock interview.
Cameron Carl, Program Facilitator and Case Manager with Goodwill, is the Employment and Reintegration Strategies job training instructor. “Goodwill provides quality, effective employment and basic education to individuals experiencing significant barriers to economic opportunity,” said Cameron.
She invests a lot into the program, and the support for the students does not end with a certificate. Upon release, Cameron says, “students receive up to three months of case management services from any of the Seattle Goodwill Job Training and Education Centers located in our five counties; King, Kitsap, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom.” Case management services include transportation assistance as well as assistance with basic needs (housing, healthcare, clothing, etc.). As a case manager, Cameron resumes working with the students once they are released and makes the necessary connections and referrals to resources and employment specialists.
Nancy sums it up best by saying, “It is a wonderful story to tell!”