Northern Virginia Workforce Investment Board

(ODEP Demonstration Program)

Organization Contact Information / Project Contact Information / Innovative Practices / Project Details

Organization Contact Information

Name of Organization Northern Virginia Workforce Investment Board
Director of Organization David Hunn
Contact David Hunn
Contact Title Executive Director
Street Address 8300 Boone Boulevard, Suite 450
City Vienna
State VA
Zip Code 22181-2633
Phone Number 703-752-1606
FAX 703-752-1609
Email Address david.hunn@myskillsource.org
Website Address http://www.myskillsource.org
Organization Profile The Northern Virginia Workforce Investment Board (NVWIB) is the local Workforce Investment Board for the counties of Fairfax, Loudon, Prince William, and the cities of Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas, and Manassas Park. Its mission is to “advance an integrated highly responsive workforce investment system that gives businesses and job seekers the tools they need to stay competitive in today’s global marketplace.” The NVWIB is the policy and oversight body for seven area SkillSource One-Stop Centers through which a wide range of employer and job seeker services are provided. A nonprofit entity of the board called SkillSource Group, Inc. runs the One-Stop Centers. Youth services are provided through the One-Stop centers under contract with Fairfax County Department of Family Services.
   

Project Contact Information

Grantee Project Name YouthSource Project
Contact Linda Marrama
Street Address 6245 Leesburg Pike, Suite 315
City Falls Church
State VA
Zip Code 22044
Phone Number 703-533-5764
FAX 703-237-3476
Email Address linda.marrama@fairfaxcounty.gov
Website Address http://www.jobhut.org
   

Innovative Practices

Program Structure/Design

The YouthSource Project brought together a number of partners in order to leverage resources, reduce barriers, plan and implement solutions to increase access to WIA-assisted youth programs for youth with disabilities.

The Northern Virginia Workforce Investment Board (NVWIB) and its youth services operating arm, the Fairfax County Department of Family Services, provided project management and oversight. ServiceSource, a private not-for-profit employment services provider, served as the entity responsible for implementing the demonstration activities and coordinating with other project partners. ServiceSource provided subject matter expertise in the development of a self-employment demonstration and provided enhanced employment strategies for serving youth with disabilities. YouthSource partners, the Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services (DRS) and the NVWIB sponsored Business Services Center, provided self-employment subject matter expertise. A youth leadership program was implemented under the guidance of YouthSource project partner, the ARC of Northern Virginia (ARC), a not-for-profit advocacy organization with extensive experience in the development and implementation of youth leadership programs.

The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on Workforce Investment and Employment Policy of People with Disabilities (RRTC) provided subject matter expertise to facilitate a comprehensive planning process. RRTC facilitated the identification of barriers and the development of policy, procedures, and methods of administration of the NVWIB to increase full access and effective and meaningful participation of youth with disabilities in all education and training activities.


Workforce Preparatory & Work-based Experiences

Students in five high schools were provided with exploration and training in the development of small businesses. The ARC of Northern Virginia coordinated this activity in the high schools working with the work awareness-training instructors to develop student run businesses. Participants visited the One-Stop Centers and the local Small Business Development Corporation. At one high school, students began by selling roses for Valentines Day and than used those profits to launch other school-related business activities, including making and selling decorations for the prom. At another school, students launched a business that sold custom tee shirts. The projects have continued in the five schools.


Youth Development & Leadership Opportunities

Each year a Youth Leadership Academy was held to provide an avenue for youth peer mentoring and growth and leadership activities and education. Youth were educated on benefits options, the value of self-advocacy, wage and self employment options. A wide range of community leaders and persons providing key information were in attendance. The Youth planned and implemented the activity.

The Job Hut, a youth-oriented One-Stop Center, was designed by a youth advisory board to the Workforce Board. A six-member panel comprised of area teens worked with the youth council over a period of nine months. They worked on many aspects of the project, including designing the Job Hut logo, deciding what books would be housed in the library and hiring the two full-time staff.

YouthSource participants took part in a Mystery Shopper program run in collaboration with the companion adult grant. Youth posed as One-Stop customers to evaluate physical and programmatic accessibility at multiple One-Stop locations, including the Job Hut in Prince William County, Virginia.


Individualized & Support Services (Connecting Activities)

YouthSource staff developed training to tutor students on driver’s education. This training was developed in response to the needs of youth with disabilities who could not otherwise access the supported learning approaches that were necessary to success in obtaining driving permits. The subsequent demand for this training led to the delivery of weekly workshops at various schools in Prince William and Fairfax County schools on driver’s education. Class size averaged 10 to 25 youth, and was fully inclusive of youth with and without disabilities.


   

Project Details

Project Summary

The YouthSource project was designed to provide the national workforce investment system with a comprehensive model approach to reducing barriers and providing solutions for increased participation and positive outcomes for youth with disabilities participating in Workforce Investment Act supported programs. During the two-year project life, YouthSource established relationships and practices among stakeholders and strengthened capacity within the workforce system to serve youth with disabilities.

The project took a comprehensive approach to assisting youth, ages 14 to 21, with developing leadership skills, accessing employment opportunities and experience, and gaining knowledge about self-employment. In addition to the demonstration of effective practices, the project included significant outreach to youth with disabilities to increase participation (with an emphasis on identifying and recruiting out-of-school youth with disabilities, as well as youth with non-visible or hidden disabilities), stakeholder training and information dissemination. Efforts were focused on increasing youth’s knowledge about the workforce investment system and joint planning around service delivery.

The YouthSource staff were required to obtain and maintain workforce competency certification that covers 13 “Areas of Competency.” In Northern Virginia, One-Stop workforce development centers require all co-located partner staff to be certified. The 13 core competencies apply to all workforce development professionals that serve youth and adult customers. The competencies were developed by the NVWIB Human Resources Committee, adapted from the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals’ Certified Workforce Development Professional Program. Examples of the areas include the history and structure of the workforce development system, labor market information, customer service, job search and keeping skills, and the career development process. YouthSource staff earned that certification by achieving competency in 13 qualifying areas. Portfolios were used to assess and demonstrate competency.


Project Services

Services to youth were delivered via current SkillSource One-Stop Centers, NVWIB affiliate sites, Youth Services Teen Centers, high schools, the Job Hut, and the NVWIB Business Services Center. Staff gathered basic needs information on forms that make up the intake packet used to gather basic demographic information. In addition, a Benefit Specialist was available in the One-Stop to meet individually with persons.

YouthSource supported the creation of a new youth-focused One-Stop center called the Job Hut. YouthSource contributed to achieving the Job Hut mission to engage youth with and without disabilities in career exploration, employment options, leadership development, and skills training. The Job Hut assists youth ages 14-21 with education and employment opportunities. With a Youth Advisory Board composed of high school students from the Prince William area, the Job Hut was designed to be a consumer friendly site for youth to stop by and visit as often as they like. No membership fees for services, or cumbersome application processes are required. The Job Hut is located a retail space in the Manassas Mall. Its hours of operation are Monday through Thursday 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Job Hut celebrated its first year anniversary in mid October, 2005. In peak months of usage, the Job Hut averaged over 1,200 youth visits during April and May of 2004. In March 2004, the National Association of Workforce Board honored the Youth Council of the Northern Virginia Workforce Investment Board for the creation of The Job Hut, recognizing it as a replicable model for other regions and states.

A Youth Leadership Academy was developed to enhance leadership skills of youth and was conduced in each of the two project years. Youth participating in the second year of the academy served as peer mentors. The project developed and implemented a program to facilitate the acquisition of driver’s licenses among project participants, featuring a supported learning approach.


Data Collection and Use

At the project outset, a YouthSource evaluation work plan was developed. The plan identified evaluation questions, data of interest, data sources, data collection procedures and persons responsible for the data.

Feedback from project participants, teachers, and partners was important as services were developed and delivered during the two years of the project. The local workforce board oversaw a management information report designed to measure all the data points. ServiceSource (the principal subcontractor) coordinated subcontractors to facilitate timely data collection and reporting procedures.

Demographic and service data was collected regularly in a secure password protected database regarding the number of youth participating in the project, status at intake, intake information, and outcomes information. Project activities and strategies were recorded in monthly staff reports.

Multiple satisfaction surveys were conducted to solicit feedback from project participants and organizational representatives participating collaboratively on projects, such as school system personnel. Youth also provided direct feedback through the Mystery Shopper Program. Youth were provided training and contextual information regarding the services of One-Stop Centers, local implementation of the WIA, and the evaluation instrument. They visited the Centers to obtain services and reported back to independent evaluators about their experiences and recommendations. Independent evaluators at St. John’s Community Services conducted data analysis. Analysis of data was conducted, compiled, and shared with One-Stop Centers as a part of the quality improvement process.


Project Plans and Outcomes

At project start there was comprehensive cross-agency strategic planning by a Systems Planning Work Group that solicited broad participation from youth and disability advocates, youth providers, disability organizations, and parents, to participate as part of a volunteer consortium. Planning meetings were held and included core partners. As a result of these initial sessions, goals and approaches were specified and concrete actions were divided among participants.

Goal Relevant Results
To improve service coordination among public and private organizations that are involved with youth sponsored or supported activities of the Northern Virginia Workforce Investment Board and results in improved educational and/or employment outcomes for youth with disabilities. Multiple stakeholder organizations to include school, advocacy, consumer, private provider, and local government began working together in completely new ways in service of youth with disabilities and with a recognition that collaboration was key to improving services in an environment of diminishing resources. All project staff were obtained and maintained workforce competency certification. Each staff had to demonstrate competency in 13 qualifying areas in order to serve workforce customers.
To develop the leadership skills of out-of-school youth with and without disabilities through training and experiential learning that results in: participation in WIA assisted youth programs; renewed interest in continuing education; and employment. A Youth Leadership Academy was developed and held in each of the two project years, with a total of 31 youth participating. Youth were educated on benefit options, the value of self-advocacy and, wage and employment options.
To improve service coordination among public and private organizations that are involved with youth sponsored or supported activities of the Northern Virginia Workforce Investment Board and results in improved educational and/or employment outcomes for youth with disabilities. Service coordination processes now include transition personnel, VR, One-Stop staff, and other systems staff. All are more knowledgeable about resources available to youth with disabilities, WIA programs, and programs that their community partners represent.

 

Significant individual successes were achieved via the YouthSource program. They include the following:

Service Provided Number of Youth Served
Placement in paying jobs 52
Internships development 9
Participation in Youth Leadership Academy 31
Participation in post survey planning 12
Mystery shopper survey 5
High school micro-business projects (self employment) 25
Training for driving licenses and Microsoft Office 103

 

The YouthSource project in its two years of implementation will be credited for contributing to the improvement of services for youth with disabilities in the northern Virginia region and leaving behind valuable resources to be implemented in any region. The grant has ended, but the relationships remain. The Service Coordination committee remains active, facilitation to adult services has been strengthened, and youth have been made aware of self-employment as a viable employment option. There are mechanisms in place for youth to provide input and to ensure a universal system.

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