Young people who are between the ages of 16 and 24 who meet certain criteria may be eligible for the Career Team program. The program is funded by The Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WOIA), a federal fund that also supports other youth employment initiatives and is managed by the Department of Labor. Their Kent County Office is in the State Service Center in Milford.
“The primary focus around Career Team is workforce development, education and technology,” Anthony Powell, Program Manager, said. “We’ve been around for quite some time but this particular program is only in its second year. We provide the opportunity to work very closely with local employers and provide assistance to those who may have barriers to employment, including TANF or SNAP recipients. Some of the supportive services we offer may include transportation, providing support for rent, career education and more.”
Powell explained that the program works closely with apprenticeship programs and are often able to pay those who go through the training while they are learning. They can also assist those who have dropped out of school with getting their high school diploma or GED. Participants must not be attending school in order to receive services as the contract for serving at-risk in-school students is held by Jobs for Delaware Graduates (JDG). However, JDG is often a referral agency to Career Team when one of their participants leaves school.
“What makes a person eligible?” Powell said. “They could be an ex-offender who’s coming out of incarceration, whether they’re youth or young adults. They could be a homeless or runaway youth coming out of foster care. We began working with Murphy School who was one of our great partners and have sent folks to us a prime example of working with our foster care program. We accept pregnant or parenting teens. We work very close with DAPI both in Kent and Sussex County, providing an opportunity for pregnant young women who attended that school. We work with the Delaware Fatherhood Initiative. So, for young fathers, teen fathers as well as young adults who are looking for support around a career path and individuals with disability.”
The program begins with intake and an eligibility assessment, according to Powell. Each participant is provided an Individual Service Strategy (ISS) that includes a goal plan which identifies barriers that may make it difficult for them to achieve their career goals. Once case management begins, the case manager meets monthly with the participant. If circumstances require, the case manager will meet weekly in order to provide the supports necessary for the participant to achieve success.
“Most of our participants come in with little or no work experience,” Powell said. “We offer an opportunity to kind of get their feet wet in an area they may have an interest. A prime example could be our partnership with Habitat for Humanity for those who are interested in entering the construction trades. We provide the funding to the employee but Habitat is the partner who is actually the employer. They assign a supervisor who serves as a one-on-one mentor. We’ve had people say “Man, I felt this is something I wanted to do, but I have to get up early in the morning, lift sheet rock,” and they realize this might not be the career for them. And that’ is a great thing to find out.”
In addition to job placement services, Career Team is able to provide funding directly to the participant for up to 520 ours of on-the-job training. This allows those who may not be able to afford time off to gain experience during a job training program to not only gain the education they need but to work in the field as well. Powell used the example of two students who were attending nursing classes who were able to work full-time while attending school due to the funds they received from Career Team. The program can pay between $11 and $16 per hour to those who qualify.
“We are required to do a 12-month follow up. So, the goal is not to just get our individuals placed in into some type of post-secondary education or job but to also follow them up to 12 months to make sure they’re successful,” Powell said. “We have some folks that may transition, they may start in a training program or educational program or on a job and may call us three months later and say “hey, this is not working out” or “hey, unfortunately, I had a life changing experience that I need to kind of make a transition in my life.” So again, we reengage them with a youth career advisor to address what those barriers are, what transitions they may need support in making and that has been a great opportunity to be responded to, to have the ability to follow them for 12 months. Some of them are still going strong and we just check in on them just to make sure that they know that their support system is in place because we have to track them to make sure that wherever we placed them, they’re still being successful in that placement.”
Another aspect of the Career Team program is Career Edge, an online soft skills platform that teaches how to create a resume, how to interview properly, telephone techniques and other skills that are necessary in today’s workforce. The program includes a life skills and career exploration component as well. Online classes are available via Zoom Monday through Friday with one class offered from 9 AM to 12 Noon and another from 1 to 3 PM. The online tools include live simulators so when someone is using the interview tool, for example, a live person is doing the interviewing so they receive immediate feedback about their skills.
“Our team is very mobile, where we will come and meet the individuals where they are,” Perkins said. “Whether we’ve got to meet them at Starbucks, we’ve got to meet them at a local deli. We’ll go to their homes and meet with the parents. We do have a mobile team that a lot of times are out in the field working in the field. We find community based partners who, if they have a specific population of individuals we work with, we’ll send a team out there. I’ll use an example for that. At DAPI, those individuals are young ladies who are pregnant or have children so they may not be able to travel into our area. So, we go and meet with the young ladies where they are. We do everything right on site at our DAPI locations. We have set up appointments at the Boys and Girls Club. We do the same in Laurel and Seaford and now are beginning to work with the Dover Boys and Girls Club. So, it gives us the ability to actually go on site and work with individuals as opposed to them traveling to us.”
Perkins explained that businesses can work with Career Team regardless of size, whether it is a sole proprietor who may simply need an assistant to answer the phone and schedule appointments or a non-profit who is looking for specific skills. The employer sets the hours the employee works, ranging from as little as 10 hours per week up to 40 hours per week.
Anyone who is interested in more information about Career Team can call Perkins at 302-654-6949 or email [email protected].
Share this Post