Harvard praises 2 county job programs

CCAC, jail putting people back to work

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Harvard's Kennedy School of Government says two Allegheny County-backed training programs are "Bright Ideas."

The Dislocated Worker Tuition Program at Community College of Allegheny County and the Allegheny County Jail Collaborative are featured on its list of "creative and promising government programs."

The dislocated worker program has helped to train more than 300 people for new jobs after they lost their old ones. It provides free tuition and fees to students for training in one of eight programs once they present letters from their former employers saying they were laid off. It was started in spring 2009.

The jail collaborative, funded with a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, expands inmate rehabilitation efforts with an eye to reducing the number of ex-prisoners who commit new crimes. It also began in 2009.

The number of courses required for each certificate in the dislocated worker program varies.

Students have up to 24 months to complete course work and can earn up to 36 credits.

Two groups of certified nurse assistants have completed the program and placement results have been good, according to Charles Blocksidge, executive director of the CCAC/Allegheny County Workforce Alliance.

Six people completed courses in the first class. All passed the nursing aide exam and are employed. Four of six students in the second group have found jobs, he said.

The community college, which receives about $22 million each year from the county, is absorbing most of the costs for dislocated-worker training as part of its operating budget.

The program will cover tuition for eligible students in eight certificate programs in the spring 2011 semester.

More information on the program is available by calling the community college at 412-788-7351 or by visiting the website, www.ccac.edu, and clicking on "Career Transition Center for Dislocated Workers."

The Jail Collaborative is a joint effort involving several county institutions: the jail, Department of Human Services, Health Department and Common Pleas Court.

Human Services director Marc Cherna said the goal of the program is to work with inmates before and after their release to help them be productive adults when they leave incarceration.

The scope of the Jail Collaborative has been expanded with a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

That money has been used to expand rehabilitation efforts with a program called the Allegheny County Reentry Initiative.

"We have teams in place that assist with education, job training and housing after release from the jail," Warden Ramon Rustin said.

Len Barcousky: lbarcousky@post-gazette.com or 724-772-0184.


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