Circle of Support Opens Doors to Employment for Refugee Women

A Women’s Empowerment Group at Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest in Tucson (LSS-SW) brings refugee participants, including single moms, together for classes on children’s safety, nutrition, and sewing. LSS-SW has found that the social connections made through these classes are a positive factor on participants’ employment readiness, combined with support from case management, Intensive Case Management, and employment services programs.

“These women inspire each other,” says Jeanine Balezi, LSS-SW Intensive Case Manager. She tells how women see their friends start working, and then they want to find a job, too.

Photo of a 12-week Kith and Kin class offered by LSS-SW in partnership with the Association of Supportive Child Care. Classes focus on in-home childcare safety and early-childhood development games and activities.

One example is an LSS-SW client with five children who spoke very limited English when she arrived. She was terrified to start working and was upset when Jeanine told her to take responsibility for getting her children to daycare as a first step to independence. When she started attending the women’s group, the client showed interest in getting a job for the first time.

“She said she wasn’t depressed anymore,” tells Jeanine. “She had gained another family.”

The client was placed in a job at a hotel, but started having back pain after some time working. One of her friends from the women’s support group helped her apply for a different job at a school, where the work was physically less demanding. She started working there, obtained her driver’s license, and bought a car—now she’s independent.

The Women’s Empowerment Group sessions are conducted in partnership with a local university and are led by qualified volunteers. Babysitting is also provided, and the last class had 24 women in attendance. Jeanine stays in close touch with the employment team at her agency to coordinate services and let them know when participants express interest in finding a job.

Supporting single parents as they prepare for employment is a team effort. What supportive services does your agency offer? Let us know at information@higheradvantage.org.

Webinar Alert: TANF, Childcare and Workforce Development (Today!)

Note: After posting this announcement yesterday, it came to our attention that the registration had been closed. Following this information, we removed the announcement from our site. We are happy to announce that registration has been reopened for this webinar, in case you are able to attend today. We apologize for any confusion. 

Possibilities for Coordination between TANF, Child Care, and Workforce Development
July 26, 2017, 3:00 – 4:00 PM EST

Child care subsidies are critical for families receiving TANF cash assistance, as well as those transitioning off assistance, to be able to participate in employment activities, to maximize educational activities, and achieve better employment outcomes. Studies show that parents receiving child care are likely to have more stable employment, which enables them to support their families and gain increased financial security.

This webinar will explore how states have coordinated TANF and child care services to enhance workforce development outcomes. The webinar will also examine the research associated with TANF and child care to highlight best practices. Presenters will include Heather Hahn, Senior Fellow, Urban Institute; Erin Oalican, Reach Up/TANF Program Director, Vermont Department for Children and Families; and Paulette Bushers, TANF Program Manager, Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

Register here.

Simple Strategies to Address Common Barriers, Part 1

Real-Time-Creative-Solutions-Needed-to-Lead-with-2020-Vision

Photo: www.cherylcran.com

At a recent Maryland-wide workshop which focused on refugee workforce development, Higher had participants do a brainstorming activity, in which groups worked together to list common barriers refugees face to employment as well as possible solutions.

These types of activities inevitably generate a “wish list” of solutions which are great ideas but not always in our power to implement quickly (e.g. adding staff members, ESL at work sites, home-based self-employment for refugee women).

 

While there are certainly times to pursue those big ideas, perhaps the best thing about exercises like this is that they allow groups to identify simpler solutions that can be implemented right now!

Over the next few weeks, we’ll share some of these insights from your Maryland peers, focusing in on simple and practical strategies that are relatively easy to implement! This week we’ll share a few tips on overcoming the barrier of childcare challenges:

Tips for Overcoming Childcare Challenges:

  • Take the time to understand local childcare/early education resources and options (there may be more resources available than you’re aware of).
  • Mobilize interns/volunteers to facilitate the logistics and paperwork necessary to set up childcare.
  • Have early conversations with both parents to set realistic expectations regarding whether or not both parents will need to work and what the childcare options will be.
  • Have a plan for single parent situations.
  • Be strategic about scheduling parents on different shifts that will allow them to share childcare responsibilities if necessary.
  • Search for jobs near childcare centers in order to streamline the process of dropping kids off and getting to work.
  • Encourage your clients to work with you on this challenge, asking them to network within their community to explore solutions.

For more on childcare solutions, click here.

Stay tuned for more tips from MD refugee employment programs and stakeholders. Future barriers will include transportation, limited English proficiency, limited computer skills, and unrealistic client expectations.

Feel free to participate in the conversation by leaving a comment below or sending us an email at information@higheradvantage.org.