Motivational Interviewing Can Spur Positive Change for Jobseekers with Barriers to Employment

By David T. Applegate, Research and Policy Assistant, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity

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For many people who’ve experienced chronic unemployment, the first barrier to getting and keeping a job may be overcoming reservations about taking the necessary steps to pursue employment. What employment service providers may interpret as lack of motivation or unwillingness to change is more often low self-confidence, self-doubt, feeling overwhelmed, or simply not knowing how to change. An emerging practice in the workforce development field is the use of Motivational Interviewing (MI) to help jobseekers with barriers to employment overcome ambivalence and anxiety about the need to engage in behavior change. Here, we give an overview of MI and how it can help jobseekers with barriers to employment get on the path to success.

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To Avoid Reincarceration, Mothers Need Support and Employment

By Jeanne E. Murray, Research and Policy Assistant, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity

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This Mother’s Day, we want to recognize incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women with children. Women represent the fastest growing population in prison. Over the last 30 years, the female prison population has grown by over 800 percent, and more than 60 percent of women prisoners are parents to children under age 18. Incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women are likely to have low educational attainment and experience mental health or substance use issues, and many are survivors of domestic violence. These barriers, combined with long gaps in work history and the stigma of a criminal record, can make it difficult for formerly incarcerated women to find and keep jobs once they’re back home. To help these women stay out of prison and successfully reenter their communities, it’s critical that employment services be a part of the programming that formerly incarcerated women receive.

Ardella’s House in Philadelphia aims to reduce recidivism by helping women successfully transition back into their communities. Ardella’s House provides women support and guidance along with addressing their career placement and vocational and educational training needs. This month, the National Initiatives team spoke with Tonie Willis, the Director of Ardella’s House, to discuss the important issues facing women who are incarcerated or formerly incarcerated—including getting and keeping jobs.

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Oprima-1: A Creative Social Enterprise Strategy Connecting Immigrants to Employment

By David T. Applegate, Research and Policy Assistant, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity

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Founded in 1997 in Chicago’s historic Pilsen neighborhood, PODER serves Chicago’s immigrant community by providing free comprehensive English education in conjunction with an innovative social enterprise and job training. The National Initiatives team recently had the opportunity to chat with PODER’s executive director, Daniel Loftus, about their social enterprise, Oprima-1, and the critical work they’re doing to empower immigrants to build new lives in Chicago.

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Connections Project Draws Teams of Innovators to D.C. to Advance Employment Solutions to Homelessness

By Carl Wiley, Coordinator, National Center on Employment and Homelessness (NCEH)

CoverAt the beginning of April, and with the generous support of the Oak Foundation and the Melville Charitable Trust, Heartland Alliance’s National Initiatives team and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) co-hosted the Working to End Homelessness (WEH) Innovation Workshop in Washington, D.C. Our event brought together 10 Connections Project Finalist Teams from communities all across the country as they built partnerships and fine-tuned innovative ideas to connect homeless jobseekers to employment and greater economic opportunity. The Connections Project is a three year, place-based, systems-level collaboration and capacity-building project that aims to increase employment and economic opportunity for homeless jobseekers. The Workshop was energizing and constructive—and here’s a look at the highlights and takeaways.

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When ‘Deadbeat Dads’ Are Jailed, No One Wins

By Melissa Young, Director, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity

Illustration via The New York Times

Illustration via The New York Times

On April 20, The New York Times published a powerful piece arguing that the use of jail to pressure parents to pay child support traps low-income, noncustodial parents in “in a cycle of debt, unemployment and imprisonment.” We agree—and that’s why we’re thrilled that today, The Times printed our Letter to the Editor lifting up employment, not incarceration, as a way to help low-income parents support their families and meet their own needs. We hope you’ll read—and share!—our piece.

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