Organization Profile: The Career Transition Center (CTC) is the parent organization for Montgomery Youth Works (MYW) and reports to the Workforce Investment Board (WIB) as a vendor. CTC is the managing operator of the Montgomery County One-Stop. MYW is a partner in the Montgomery County One-Stop center and as such, its services are available to all Montgomery County youth with and without disabilities. MYW’s mission is to provide all youth with meaningful training and job opportunities aimed at facilitating a successful transition from school to work and to contribute to workforce development in Montgomery County. Services for youth include job placement assistance, generic job readiness training, customized job readiness training, career institutes, and intensive career counseling. MYW educates businesses to understand that in a tight and competitive labor market, they need to discover the advantages of hiring job-ready young people. MYW works directly with the business community in ascertaining their labor needs and finding qualified youth to fill them.
Program Summary: The purpose of the Montgomery Partnership for All Youth was to expand the skills of workforce development professionals on how to assist youth with disabilities in taking advantage of youth workforce initiatives. As part of this, a manual and training curriculum were developed.
Program Structure/Design: A major effort was to develop a customized curriculum and accompanying technical assistance guide for staff orientation and development that focused on how to accommodate youth with disabilities. MYW developed a youth practitioner training program called the Time is N.O.W. (New Opportunities for the Workforce). Staff acquired the knowledge and skills to promote self-determination and informed choice through ongoing communication with disability support experts, such as the Department of Rehabilitation Services, TransCen, Montgomery County Public Schools, and the ADA/IT Information Center, all of which are partners of MYW. In addition, MYW staff members were encouraged to participate in the staff development workshops.
Training on the following disability-related issues was provided for all levels of staff:
By marketing the N.O.W. training to partners and collaborators, MYW expanded its referral sources to include, among other organizations, the following: school-based programs for youth with emotional disabilities, the Conservation Corps, the Montgomery County Department of Juvenile Services, the Women’s Bar Association, and the Maryland Institute for Employment and Training Professionals.
New programs were added to include a Construction Industry Internship Program, Arts on the Block, and a Housing Opportunities Commission Partnership. All of these programs have been able to provide training to youth with disabilities.
States of Operation: MD
Profile Year: 2007
Career Preparation and Work-Based Learning Experiences: Youth were exposed to the Career Institutes (Construction Industry Internship Program and Health Sciences After School Program) and apprenticeship (Arts on the Block) programs, which offer opportunities for work-based exploration. In the construction program, youth received hands-on training, heard guest speakers, visited student-built houses, and participated in company site visits. In the health sciences program, youth had similar experiences, including CPR training and certification and shadowing of doctors and other medical industry professionals (e.g. radiological technicians). In the Arts on the Block apprenticeship program, the youth trained under master artists, met with local talent, and publicly displayed the art they created. MYW’s staffing service also provided youth with work-based exploration, exposing the youth early on to jobs that could potentially become careers.
A Job Club existed whose primary objective was to offer a training program focusing on familiar challenges that often act as barriers to youth trying to obtain or keep a job. Designed as an interactive and intensive training, the Job Club prepared young workers for the demands of a contemporary workplace. Each training activity was designed to take into account factors such as variances in ability and functioning level. Activities were intended to be fun and interactive, yet relevant and applicable to young people facing a variety of challenges that might affect their success in securing employment.
Through the Career Institutes and Job Club, youth with disabilities learned how to request, locate, and secure appropriate supports and accommodations needed in the workplace. These appropriate supports were provided through some of the partner agencies. Through personal consultation, youth with disabilities were informed of disclosure options when seeking and securing employment. MYW also worked with parents and advocates to assist the youth in communicating effectively regarding any support or accommodations they may have needed.
Youth Development and Leadership: Youth customers were exposed to leadership and youth development activities through MYW’s partnership with the Montgomery County Volunteer Center’s Weekend/Evening Kids Action Network (WE/Kan) Leadership Program and Leadership Montgomery (a county initiative bringing together emerging leaders with the goal of making Montgomery County a better place to live and work). This youth marketing team associated with Leadership Montgomery was trained in public presentation to prepare them to speak before various community groups. Youth were also selected to participate in the Youth Recruitment Committee for the Scavenger Hunt, MYW’s annual fundraiser. The committee’s main objective was to coordinate teams of four to eight students from each county high school to participate on the day of the event. In addition, MYW hired student interns to work in its offices, assisting with administrative responsibilities and job readiness trainings.
All of the internship and apprenticeship programs fostered strong relationships between the youth and adult participants. Through group activities, peer-to-peer mentoring was established. Job Readiness Training, Job Club, Health Sciences After School Program, Construction Industry Internship Program, and Arts on the Block all provided training in self-advocacy and conflict resolution.
Youth with disabilities were provided training through the Job Club on ways to disclose a disability to an employer. This training included “job carving” and highlighting skills and abilities. In addition, youth customers with disabilities were referred to a variety of regionally hosted disability culture and pride events, such as the Maryland Youth Leadership Forum, held in Washington, DC.
Connecting Activities: Post-program supports were provided through structured arrangements in postsecondary institutions and adult-serving agencies. These were primarily provided through the One-Stop employment center. The One-Stops gave customers career counseling, computer program training, and job referrals. Depending on a youth’s needs, he or she was referred to a mental health agency, higher education provider (e.g. Montgomery College), volunteer center, or other resource. The program ensured additional exposure to independent living centers and other consumer-driven community-based support service agencies through such activities as the Job Club, which was specifically designed to assist youth needing referrals to community organizations specializing in assisted living and other areas. Through consultation with the Staffing Coordinator or other MYW staff members, customers were referred to other organizations with expertise in meeting particular needs.
Physical service accommodations were made for job readiness trainings, including large print materials and sign language interpreters. Youth clients were given one-on-one consultation with MYW staff members when necessary. This was often crucial for youth to learn how to create a resume or a cover letter, or prepare for an interview.
Youth with disabilities were ensured of getting appropriate assistive technologies through MYW’s Wheaton location, which has several low tech and high tech assistive technology devices. Examples included a JAWS Screen Reader, TTY machines, materials in Braille, and sign language interpreters.
EVIDENCE OF SUCCESS (INFORMATION AND ANALYSIS)
Data: Data were collected on youth, partnering organizations, and employers and entered into the MYW database. Data included demographic information, requested hours and days of work, transportation needs, accommodation needs, education status, extracurricular activities, work and volunteer history, work-related skills, job interest areas, educational and career goals, participation in previous job-readiness training, and references to verify character and employment. In addition, staff notes and assessments were entered into the database along with employment-referral records. Other information sources included WIA eligibility information, documentation of specific program involvement in MYW, and referrals to approved assisting agencies. The organization’s contact information, staff members’ names and titles, information on their relationship with or involvement in MYW, and a call log were kept current and continuously updated. Similar information was collected for MYW’s employer customers; employer information also included records of invoices sent for placement fees as well as a record of any donations contributed.
MYW’s performance measures for working with youth with disabilities were the same as the performance measures set by the Workforce Investment Act. Progress on WIA performance measures and outcomes set by the Board of Directors was tracked. Data analyses were completed as required by specific program funding stream (e.g. Construction Industry Internship Program, Health Sciences After School Career Institutes, and Arts on the Block). Data collected and used included the following: activities delivered, number of participants served in the reporting period, events, accomplishments, collaborations, challenges, and action steps.
Training evaluations were another method for data analysis. Career Institutes and Job Readiness Training evaluations were used to assess the effectiveness of activities delivered, areas that received high marks, areas needing improvement, and the facilitators’ teaching ability. After each New Opportunities for the Workforce (N.O.W.) youth practitioner training, the facilitator distributed and collected participant evaluations. Collected evaluations were analyzed to identify which learning objectives were achieved; evaluate the usefulness of activities; determine the value of handouts and training material; evaluate the quality of instruction, the instructor’s teaching ability, level of knowledge and expertise; and assess the adequacy of physical facilities.
For this project, five goals were set that related to customer service, increased participation of youth with disabilities, improved collaboration with partners, youth participation in training programs, and the quality of work-based learning experiences.
Over the course of the grant period, Montgomery Youth Works provided services to approximately 2,600 young people. MYW does not capture separate information on the type of disability. However, MYW conservatively estimated that over 650 (25%) of the youth served between September 1, 2001 and August 31, 2003 had disabilities. Participation and involvement of youth with disabilities did increase, although not by the 20% proposed in the plan; the smaller increase was likely due to cuts in WIA’s youth subsidized summer employment programs, which had a negative impact on the year-round program results.
After being exposed to the information and training developed under this project, staff members were better able to assess what special services each youth might need in order to participate fully in a training event or to be successful on the job. Through a partnership with the Maryland Institute of Employment and Training Professionals (MIETP), the N.O.W. training was offered on their website as a training option.
Organization Name: Career Transition Center, Inc. (CTC) – Montgomery Youth Works
Program Name: Montgomery Partnership for All Youth
Street Address: 11160 Veirs Mill Rd., Ste. 510
Contact Person: Laura Sildon
Contact E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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