Through the Baltimore City Department of Social Services, KRA offers jobseekers receiving TANF benefits a wide range of Work Participation, Placement, and Support Services. However, job-placement in sustainable positions can present challenges if customers have little-to-no work experience, or an outdated job history. One solution to this obstacle is hands-on, real-world work experience (WEX) with a KRA-partner agency or business, usually on an unsubsidized basis.
Recently, Latarsha Ellett, School Social Worker, e-mailed, “We currently have a few KRA volunteers here at Lakewood Elementary School…could you let me know how I can request more?” On this, Greg Alexander, KRA Program Manager, comments, “Lakewood has been a WEX site for 5 years, with Ms. Ellett as Site Supervisor since October 2019. Two customers were there then, there are four now, and she has requested three more!
Most participants work four 6-hour days, completing a 90-day assignment, or less, if they obtain full- or part-time employment. Ms. Ellett noted, “Several have taken advantage of our trainings, resources, and learning opportunities to enhance their marketability. I enjoy being able to help highly motivated individuals improve themselves.”
Volunteers provide essential help in all areas where needed, based on their own interests as well. Some work directly with students as Classroom or Cafeteria Aides, while others learn office skills, assisting various Lakewood Administrators. Duties may include greeting and escorting parents/visitors throughout the school, hall-monitoring, and other assignments.
KRA programs report thousands of WEX success stories every year—in Baltimore City and other sites across the country—exemplified by Shantell Crowder, hired by Lakewood as a temporary contractual employee (TCE) throughout several school years, and Tiffany Moore, who has worked at Lakewood as a TCE for the past year as a Classroom Aide.