Tracey Blevins, a 33-year old single mother, enrolled in the KRA/CTWorks JFES Program* in September 2010, and “exited” the program…this month. Yes, that is 28months, and some might say a long time to participate in a workforce development program. However, if you’re planning for a career that will form the foundation for the rest of your working life…and you know what your long-range goals are…time is not at issue. Tracey knew this, as did Denese Smith, her KRA Career Agent, and other KRA/CTWorks staff who supported Tracey during her time with the program.
Tracey was a self-starter, who had already achieved three of her career goals: graduating from Hartford High School, completing a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program, and enrolling at Goodwin College of Nursing to further her career in the Healthcare field. But even self-starters need help sometimes, and to free herself from dependence on public assistance, Tracey turned to KRA/CTWorks. There, she found exactly the resources she needed. With Smith’s guidance, Tracy received career counseling, an Individual Employment Plan (IEP) to guide her career-development path, training in how to perform Individual Structured Job Searches, and job-interview preparation.
Smith also referred Tracey to colleague Millie Lopez-Cook, KRA Business Services Consultant, who coached her on making herself more marketable in the Healthcare field; standing out from other job applicants; networking with local Healthcare businesses, many of whom were KRA/CTWorks business-customers; and effectively crafting a CNA-focused resume. For in-depth assistance, Tracey visited the CTWorks @ HPL One-Stop Career Center located downtown at the Hartford Public Library. There, she met with Jerry Santostefano, KRA Customer Service Expeditor, who worked with Tracey to find just the right words to convey her earnest desire to work and to highlight those workplace skills that Healthcare employers are seeking. Santostefano reported, “I was really pleased when Tracey told me that I helped her find the confidence to express herself in a professional, yet friendly manner that would catch the eye of potential employers.”
Santostefano continued, “I was even more pleased when, on January 3rd, Tracey stopped by CTWorks @ HPL to thank me, as well as Ms. Smith and Ms. Lopez-Cook, for guiding her work-readiness preparation to the point that she had secured a job as a CNA with Brightstar Care, an adult homecare and eldercare business, and would be splitting her time between their Windsor Locks facility and their assisted-living center in Simsbury. She noted that making this commute was possible…and a factor in her getting the job…because Ms. Smith had ‘pushed her hard” to take driving lessons and to get a driver’s license.
In a follow-up call, I spoke with the HR director at Windsor Locks, and she shared that Tracey is a wonderful worker and well liked by staff and management alike. She made special note that Brightstar Care is very grateful for the qualified, energetic jobseekers they hire who have participated in the KRA/CTWorks program.”
The JFES (Jobs First Employment Services) Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, is designed to move recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families into employment and toward self-sufficiency. The KRA/CTWorks JFES uses a balanced “work first approach” to create IEPs with immediate goals taking into account barriers to employment the customer may be facing, as well as other factors.