Resource Center looks to expand workforce program

Published 6:14 pm Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Dallas County Family Resource Center is stepping up its recruiting for its workforce investment program.

For the third straight year, the Dallas County Family Resource Center is looking to give disadvantaged youth a boost in education and life skills, but this year the center is looking to recruit at least 50 students for its workforce investment program. Last year it served 37.

The workforce investment program is aimed at Dallas County residents who are 16-21 years old, classified as low income and looking to earn a GED or high school diploma, said Jan Justice, who runs the program.

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“Over the years, public schools in Alabama have required students to pass a grad exam to earn a diploma,” Justice said. “Some of the ones we have worked with didn’t pass the exam, but had all of the credits.”

Though participants must meet certain income requirements, all services and training are free as a part of the program because the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs awarded $133,475 to the Dallas County Family Resource Center.

Family Resource Center director Donna Long said the workforce investment program is especially critical in Dallas County.

“We just have so many who have barriers to completing their education,” Long said.

To help add to its program and increase participation, the Resource Center will allow current high school students, who are behind a grade level to enroll. Justice said the expansion would hopefully allow the Center to meet its participation goal of 50 total students and 16 students per quarter.

“We’ve had fairly good success with the ones that we’ve had, but we didn’t serve as many as we had hoped and that is kind of where the state would like us to do better,” Justice said.

Besides participation, the Center is also required to meet certain performance standards as a part of its ADECA grant.

Justice said the grant requires 50 percent of its participants to increase basic skills by a grade level, become employed or attend college courses after completion of the workforce investment act program.

Though she didn’t know numbers off hand, Justice said there’s been a noticeable change in many of the participants.

“Some of our youth are referred by the court and really don’t want to be here,” she said. “However, once they start coming and participating, we see a change in attitude as they begin believing they can have a positive future.”

Justice said there weren’t any particular deadlines to participate in the workforce investment program. Though, the grant funding sets a deadline of June 30, 2015.