New Online Service from the EEOC

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The EEOC is the federal agency to call if your clients are experiencing discrimination or harassment in the workplace. Most employers with at least 15 employees are covered by EEOC laws (20 employees in age discrimination cases). Most labor unions and employment agencies are also covered.

The laws apply to all types of work situations, including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits.  Impacted individuals may now file and manage a complaint through an online portal.

On November 2, 2017, the EEOC launched the EEOC Public Portal to provide online access to individuals experiencing possible employment discrimination. Each year the EEOC receives over 300,000 inquiries over the phone, so a move to the digital era will allow them to respond quickly to inquiries.

The new system enables individuals to digitally sign and file a charge prepared by the EEOC on their behalf. According to the press release from the EEOC, “once an individual files a charge, he or she can use the EEOC Public Portal to provide and update contact information, agree to mediate the charge, upload documents to his or her charge file, receive documents and messages related to the charge from the agency and check on the status of his or her charge.” An EEOC investigation can take anywhere between 8 weeks to 10 months.

EEOC information should be included in your job readiness curriculum so clients know their rights as workers and know where to turn to in order to seek justice if their rights are violated.

For more information on the EEOC and how to file a charge visit this page.

 

Need further assistance on how to file an EEOC complaint? Write to us at information@higheradvantage.org.

Career Planning: How to Make SMART Objectives and Goals Work for Refugees

While working with job seekers it is important to make the most out of the time shared. Using SMART objectives and goals[1] can be an efficient way to help the job seeker identify specific steps to achieve self-sufficiency and longer-term goals. It is a clear, concise way of goal setting to help clients focus their efforts.

Often times during the first employment intake, an employment team member will hear that a job seeker’s goals are, “I want to work any job” and, “I want to learn English.” Those are good thoughts, but not specific enough to provide an action plan. They are not SMART. SMART objectives and goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.

Example: Claude is a recently arrived refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who speaks fluent French and some English. Claude completed Secondary School (High School) but never received his diploma or certificate. Claude arrived with his mother and six siblings. During his employment intake Claude shares that his long term goal is to become a human rights lawyer, but he also understands the immediate need to financially support his family. The Employment Specialist (ES) suggests seeking work at a local warehouse that often hires new Americans. Claude agrees and is ready to embark on the job hunt.

Objective #1: Obtain employment at the warehouse within two months.

 

Specific Claude begins the job cycle process of applying and interviewing with one particular employer.
Measurable Claude will either have the job or will not in two months’ time.
Attainable The ES already has connections to the employer and knows they are eager to hire newly arriving refugees.
Relevant Claude wants to start working right away to support his family and have money to be able to achieve his long term dream of becoming a lawyer.
Timely Claude needs to be able to pay bills before his family’s initial funding assistance runs out.

 

 

Objective #2: Enroll in General Education Diploma (GED) training course within one year.

Specific ? The objective does not outline explicitly where Claude will enroll.
Measurable Claude attending a GED training course within one year from intake is measurable.
Attainable ? There are several questions that must be answered to know if this objective is attainable.  Is the training free? If not, how will Claude pay for it? How is Claude’s English proficiency in reading, writing, and other subjects? If he needs additional preparation, where will he get it and how long will it take?
Relevant Claude’s long term goal is to become a lawyer, having a GED or High School Diploma is required and therefore relevant.
Timely Claude can keep his job to meet basic needs while going to GED class simultaneously. He seems motivated to do it all.

 

 

 

It is important when creating SMART objectives and goals to consider each step required while keeping in mind the client’s immediate needs and barriers. There are several additional objectives that Claude must achieve in order to reach his longer-term goal of becoming a human rights lawyer, including:

  1. Ensure proficiency for GED training courses
  2. Enroll in GED courses
  3. Obtain a GED
  4. Apply and be accepted to college
  5. Obtain a bachelor’s degree
  6. Apply and be accepted to law school
  7. Obtain a law degree
  8. Obtain a job in the human rights field

Going through each objective required to meet longer-term goals utilizing the SMART technique may help the ES, as well as the client, understand the pathway of a career and its feasibility for the client.

Look out for activities on career planning and SMART objectives and goals in Higher’s upcoming Job Readiness Toolkit!

What are some ways that you teach goal planning when working with refugees? Share your best practices with us at Information@higheradvantage.org!

[1]Objectives are the measurable steps an individual takes to achieve his/her goal(s).

WIOA Youth Program Updates and Resources

The implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) creates several ways for refugee clients to access the mainstream workforce system and offers young adults in particular some valuable resources. (If you are new to the WIOA program, check out this previous Higher blog for 5 easy first steps to connect with WIOA opportunities.)

The Youth Services Team within the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration recently launched “Our Journey Together: The WIOA Youth Program Technical Assistance (TA) Series” with four webinars in October. Whether you are new to the world of WIOA or consistently refer clients for WIOA services, here are some updates and resources shared in the webinar series worth knowing.

Resources

  • The WIOA Youth Program Fact Sheet gives an overview of available services and outlines eligibility requirements, which you may find helpful in making appropriate referrals to your local American Job Center.
  • The WIOA Youth Program Element Resources web-page covers 14 key topics related to youth education and employment, such as Paid and Unpaid Work Experience, Occupational Skills Training, and Leadership Development Opportunities. You can access a wide range of topic-specific resources from here, such as links to workforce training materials, toolkits, and webinars.

Focus on Out-of-School Youth

There has been a shift toward primarily serving out-of-school youth (OSY) with the passage of WIOA. To review out-of-school eligibility requirements, you can watch this brief 5-minute video presentation.

What’s Ahead

Stay tuned for upcoming WIOA Youth Program TA resources relevant to your work with refugee youth employment, including topics such as: Job Corps, Mentoring, Financial Literacy, Trauma-Informed Care, Summer Employment, Career Pathways, Entrepreneurship, and Apprenticeship. Enroll in the Workforce GPS system here to receive notifications about future webinars and resources.

Written by Carrie Thiele.

 

Jobs for the Future Seeks Session Proposals

Jobs for the Future is accepting proposals for its biannual national summit, Horizons 2018: A Vision for Economic Advancement, is June 13-14, 2018 in New Orleans, LA. Jobs for the Future’s mission is that all lower-income young people and workers have the skills and credentials needed to succeed in our economy.

Proposals should be in one of the following topics to represent refugee employment successes and challenges at the summit in June:

  • The Equity Imperative: Sessions will examine persistent disparities in outcomes for groups that our education and workforce systems are currently leaving behind. Presenters will elevate strategies that provide more equitable opportunities for workers to gain the skills, credentials, and experiences to meet employer needs and their potential.
  • Skills for the Future: Sessions will explore innovative approaches to build and assess these skills, including competency-based education to accelerate learning, and strategies for creating stronger, more agile feedback loops between employers and educators about skill needs. Presenters will highlight promising solutions for ensuring that youth and adults complete high school and postsecondary programs of high value to regional economies.
  • Solutions at Work: Presenters will showcase proven innovations and breakthrough ideas that foster more powerful practice, successful programs, and improved systems.

The deadline for proposal submissions is Dec. 31, 2017. You can read more about the conference and download the session proposal application here.

Written by Carrie Thiele.

Three Ways CORE Certification Courses Can Benefit Refugee Employment Services

Cultural Orientation Resource Exchange (CORE) has developed a series of certification courses[i] to support refugee resettlement staff and volunteers who cover cultural orientation (CO) topics in their day-to-day roles. While lessons have a CO focus, several courses contain information and concepts helpful to employment volunteers and staff. Each self-paced lesson, which can be completed in approximately 20-30 minutes, covers key concepts through an interactive audiovisual interface, and includes links to online resources for further reading. Here are three ways your employment team can benefit from this free resource:

 

  1. Volunteer Training: Incoming volunteers can gain an overview of the refugee resettlement process in the first CORE lesson. The Refugee Resettlement Journey covers topics such as the differences between refugee and asylee status, durable solutions to address the needs of refugees, and the vetting process. Understanding the basics of refugee resettlement is crucial for volunteers working with clients on job readiness and job placement, and with potential employers of refugees.
  2. Working with Interpreters: Staff working with interpreters on a regular basis to complete employment plans, teach job readiness class, or foster conversations between employers and clients should consider the Working Effectively with Interpreters lesson. Concepts – such as why family members should not be used as interpreters, ensuring cultural sensitivity, and the importance of meeting with your interpreter ahead of time – promote more effective, respectful communication with clients.
  3. Job Readiness Facilitation: The first of several adult learning strategy courses is now available. Knowles’ Six Principles covers unique characteristics of adult learners, such as being internally motivated and self-directed. This lesson includes “expert insights” from seasoned adult education trainers. The next course will cover the difference between teacher-centered and student-centered approaches. 

You can register to access the courses here and sign up here for the CORE newsletter to stay up to date on future certification course offerings as they are available. You can also check out the CORENAV resources for refugee self-learning on a variety of topics, including employment.

Written by Carrie Thiele.

 

These resources[i] were developed under an agreement financed by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, United States Department of State, but do not necessarily represent the policy of that agency and should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

A More Interactive Approach for Job Readiness Class

The infographic below contains several tips when designing your job club curriculum. Best courses for refugee learners should not only include more interactivity, but aim for greater retention.  The current best practice is to introduce new material in 20 minute chunks. This does not mean job readiness classes need to be short, rather the lesson should be designed to reinforce those main ideas and core concepts.

For example, when teaching workers’ rights, you teach the right to a work place free from discrimination. Give real life examples of what discrimination looks like and share a story of a client who experienced discrimination. Then ask the group if they have ever experienced discrimination.

To give another example, when preparing clients for job interviews, you could do a lesson on hygiene and appropriate clothes to wear and then give clients 5 minutes to pick out a perfect interview outfit from a pile of clothes.

What have you found works best for your clients? Tell us your job readiness success stories or contact us for help on how to design a great curriculum. Email us at information@higheradvantage.org.

 

 

10 Tips for Newly Hired Employment Managers

Congratulations! After all the long and hard hours you’ve worked building innovative and successful employment programs, you are now a manager. This new role is important and well-deserved but comes with a whole new set of goals and demands. New managers need just as much guidance in their role so here are a few helpful tips to all the new managers out there:

1) Address the shift immediately: If you find yourself managing your former peers you must address the new dynamics immediately. Have a meeting with the staff and your supervisor. Have your supervisor explain the shift and your new role so everyone is clear about the new team dynamic. Whereas you may have gone out with co-workers after work before, that friendship dynamic may no longer be possible. Please keep in mind that some colleagues may be resentful of your promotions but just be professional and focus on running a great program.

2)  Communication- It’s a two way street: A great manager knows how to listen effectively and does not talk down to their employees. Take the time to understand and appreciate the thoughts and feelings of your staff. Have a weekly team meeting where you give a few updates but also allow time for the staff to give updates. A few ideas to get staff talking: have your staff come prepared to discuss a difficult client story, a successful client story, and an issue they need advice on. Then talk through each situation as a team.

3) Effective and Efficient Meetings: In the refugee resettlement world everyone is working at such a fast pace. In order to get your staff to slow down and take the time to comprehend what you need them to learn, be wise about when and how often you schedule meetings. If you don’t have enough information to fill up an agenda, don’t call a meeting. Decide what and when new information needs to be shared. For example ORR changes to programs or problems with TANF are going to lead your agenda. Try to focus on 3 to 5 key issues in each meeting, and try not to meet more than once a week as a team.

4) Delegation: A great manager knows the strengths and weaknesses of their staff. It’s your job now to make sure the workload is divided. A manager does not take on all the work themselves; rather they know what needs to be accomplished and can identify which team member is best suited to accomplish the task. You are there to oversee and guide your staff, not to do their work for them. 

5) Accept Responsibility: Problems arise. Accept responsibility for your own actions, and accept responsibility for your team’s actions. Failure to accept responsibility makes a manager look weak to both superiors and subordinates.

6) One-on-one meetings: These meetings are a great way to learn what your employees need. Employees can sometimes be shy to share in a large groups. Here you will want to focus these meetings on the employee’s: needs, strengths, problems with clients. Ask if they want additional training and how are they managing their time. Some people need help managing their workload and this may mean helping them create a strict weekly schedule. These meetings should also be a chance for employees to hear from you. Positive feedback is always going to be better received. Try to make plans to help employee improve their performance instead of just pointing out their weaknesses. 

7) Continued Professional Development: A manager is someone who is constantly learning and growing. There are tons of great seminars out there on how to be an effective manager, but there are also lots of webinars and resources that can help you advance and grow your employment programs. At the end of this article are a few resources.

8) Find a Mentor: Find someone who is an inspiring manager and ask them if they might become a mentor to you. Advice from someone you respect will go a long way. A mentor can also be a great resource and sounding board for your ideas and problems. Be open about how you are feeling in your new role and what support you need in order to continue growing as a manager. 

9) Passion for the Mission: As a manager you will be asked to address many stakeholders in your community, including employers, funders, and government officials. Public speaking may not be your forte but it will improve over time if you can passionately convey your work. Passion for the clients and your organization’s mission will go a long way in the success of your work and will keep you coming to work with a smile on your face and set a great example for your staff.

10 )Lead by Example: Don’t just tell your staff what to do; show them. A great manager knows how to do the work, not just teach it. Instead of asking new staff to teach job club, give them the opportunity to observe you or another seasoned staff member so that they can learn by example. Offer to sit with them if they have a difficult client, or need support with tasks such as intake paperwork or a food stamp re-certification. Staying engaged in the work of your staff will also give you a chance to exercise and refresh your skills. Above all, inspire others to want to help you accomplish desired goals. People who want to do something are far more effective than people who have to do something.

Additional Tools and Resources for Supervisors and Managers:

Discussing the Changes to the FY17 Matching Grant Program Guidelines

In June, the Office of Refugee Resettlement released the FY17 Program Guidelines for Matching Grant. MG is a highly competitive program and requires significant program outcomes so staying aware of changes to the program guidelines is very important.

Many of you are already familiar with the FY17 changes, but just in case you missed the memo, here are two important changes you need to know about:

  1. Home visits are required for non-R&P clients (any client not resettled by your agency). Here are a few examples of clients that that this policy would apply to:
    • A family of 4 asylees was granted asylum just 12 days ago and comes to your office requesting employment services. After verifying their date of asylum, copying their eligibility documents and conducting a through intake and assessment you decide (you may need to request permission from headquarters) to enroll the family in MG.
    • Another agency calls and says they have a family of 3 recently arrived SIV recipients. After meeting the family, conducting an intake and assessment, and verifying eligibility and requesting permission from the other agency, you enroll the family in MG.
    • A Cuban parolee comes to your office on day 30 and has already applied for her EAD and you live in a state where the EAD come in quickly. You assess the situation and decide to enroll the client in MG.

A home visit must be conducted for each of these clients if they are enrolled in your MG program if they are receiving funds for housing. The home visit should ideally be conducted with an interpreter to ensure the housing is safe then the staff must be documented in the client’s case notes. Please check with your RA for specifics of how to conduct this visit. 

2.Potential clients who arrive without the benefit of R&P services must be screened for human trafficking. If there is reason to believe that the client has been trafficked an appropriate referral must be made. This change pertains to potential MG clients who did not come through the Reception and Placement program. Examples include:

    • Cuban or Haitian entrants with paroled status
    • SIV recipients who travel to the United States on their own
    • Asylees

Photo credit CWS Durham

ORR does say that this rule will only apply after the Office of Trafficking in Persons (under the Administration for Children and Families) and Refugee Council USA have jointly developed a screening procedure. After speaking with RCUSA that policy has yet to be developed. If this changes, Higher will be sure to send an update. It is important that refugee MG programs regularly review and train staff on the MG guidelines as ORR will continue to ramp up it site monitoring of this program throughout FY17.

The FY17 MG Program Guidelines with highlighted changes can be accessed here..

Higher is here to support you. If you need additional support related to MG, please let us know at information@higheradvantage.org.

Making the Match in December: Spotlight on YMCA International Services Houston, TX

December is the perfect time of year for agencies to focus on raising the match for Matching Grant. With the country in a giving mood most agencies are able to raise 25% to 65% of their fiscal year match between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Now that the match for MG can be raised 100% through in-kind donations your agency has a ton of options for what to ask for from donors or how to raise the match. When calculating the match please remember that not all gifts or volunteer hours will count toward MG, follow the ORR guidelines on what can be included as match and be sure to keep a precise record.

YMCA International Services of Houston recently shared a creative strategy their office uses during the holiday season to raise the match and help refugee families. Here is what Joe Saceric, ymcaDirector of Community Relations wrote about this program:

Every year many refugee families will be celebrating their first holiday season in their new homes. To provide them with comfort, and to welcome them YMCA International Services of Houston hosts an annual Adopt-A-Family program.  In December families and community groups “adopt” families for the holidays, purchasing items on their wish list which they fill out with a staff person or a volunteer mentor. For many this is an opportunity to wish for items they otherwise will continue to live without like a TV, or bike, or even a computer that could benefit everyone.

YMCA International Services of Houston's Adopt-A-Family program

YMCA International Services of Houston’s Adopt-A-Family program

One of the most unique aspects of this program is that those adopting have the opportunity (only if they wish) to deliver the gifts to the homes of the refugee family they adopted. During these visits the families will encourage their visitors to stay and talk, they will often serve treats, and for some this has been the beginning of a new friendship. This is an extraordinary way for Houstonians and their new neighbors to meet each other and celebrate their cultures during the holiday season. 

Along with the families and groups many other YMCA centers throughout Houston also partake in the festivities, many of these adopters are local youth and teen!  Through the generosity of so many last year close to fifty families were adopted. Adopt-A-Family continues to grow every year. This year over fifty families have already been adopted, and there is still time for a few more.

If you agency would like assistance or ideas for raising the match, or if you have a MG success story you would like to share; please do not hesitate to contact us here at Higher: information@higheradvantage.org

 

Holiday Outreach Strategy + Holiday Graphic!

Showing appreciation for your employer partners is easier than ever before.

We designed this holiday graphic to provide you with an easy and quick way to send a thank you email to employers and community partners. 

You can do it in three easy steps:

1. Download a high resolution JPEG by right clicking on the below image and selecting “Save As”.

higher-holiday-card 2016

(or Download a PDF here)

2. Add your agency logo and message to an email.

3. Hit send.

Do you have a holiday outreach strategy that works? Please share in the comments below or contact us with the details!