by Terry Rogers
The State of Delaware Division of Social Services recently launched the WONDER Works program in an effort to provide job training and intensive case management to Delawareans with limited job skills or work experience. The goal of the program is to help clients become self-sufficient.
“WONDER stands for Work Opportunity Network to Develop Employment Readiness,” Shawneya Ellis, Supervisor of the program, said. “We provide case management, skill-building workshops, help with resumes, job search and placement as well as monthly hiring events, clinical support and referrals plus barrier reduction support. Our case managers refer participants to our clinicians for mental health services as well as substance abuse issues. They also refer participants to other community resources as needed.”
WONDER Works strives to empower individuals who may have barriers to employment, such as challenging criminal backgrounds. The program is designed to provide resources that may include bus and gas cards to those who may have no other way to get to interviews or to work. They also provide appropriate interview attire and collaborate with the Division of Social Services to help clients find affordable childcare services.
“We work to gain lasting partnerships with employers and training programs so we can provide the best service possible for our participants,” Ellis said. “We partner with the Food Bank of Delaware and the Delaware Skills Center, for example. We want to empower Delawareans to secure a future of self-reliance and create opportunities for individuals who may not otherwise qualify for assistance.”
One of the most important services offered by WONDER Works is the assistance they provide to those who have barriers to employment. They work with the client to reduce those barriers and provide intensive case management support to increase the potential for long-term success. In addition to a criminal history, barriers may include substance abuse, a sporadic work history, lack of childcare and lack of transportation. Ellis explained that the Support Navigators at WONDER Works are committed to finding resources and assisting participants as much as possible.
“In February 2019, Shaquille Good of Smyrna enrolled in our program,” Ellis said. “he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, but after hearing about our culinary arts program with the Food Bank, he became interested. He started in May and completed the program in August with the highest GPA in the class. He is currently interviewing with local restaurants and should find a job in the near future.”
In order to enroll in WONDER Works, an individual must be a Delaware resident, receive Supplemental Food Benefits (SNAP) and or TANF assistance through the Division of Social Services. They must register with a Career Team or Business Interface, DSS’s employment and training vendors. To learn more about WONDER Works, individuals can contact services in Kent or Sussex County at 302-672-9553 or in New Castle County at 302-761-6794.
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