On October 3, 2008, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Employment and Training Administration (ETA) announced the availability of approximately $5 million to fund demonstration grants that target the employment and training needs of young parents. The Young Parents Demonstration program is to provide educational and occupational skills training leading to family economic self-sufficiency to both mothers and fathers, and expectant mothers ages 16 to 24. The ETA anticipated awarding between 5–7 grants under this solicitation, with individual grants ranging in value from $500,000 to $1 million.
The Centers for Youth and Families approached the Little Rock Workforce Investment Board and the operator of the Arkansas Workforce Center at Little Rock, Arbor Education & Training, with a desire to jointly submit an application that would enhance their existing program entitled Young Moms/Dads Healthy Families with additional and intensive educational and employment training opportunities. In the process of creating this application other partners joined in the effort by pledging their resources and support. These partners included Pulaski Technical College, Arkansas Department of Higher Education Career Pathways Initiative, City of Little Rock Department of Community Programs, Little Rock School District Adult Education Program, Arkansas DF&A Office of Child Support Enforcement, Little Rock Job Corps Center, Safe Places, Dayspring Behavioral Health Services of Arkansas, and Goodwill Industries.
In June 2009, the partnership received a Young Parents Demonstration Grant of $848,452 - one of 13 awarded in the country. The LRWIB will function as the recipient and responsible administrative entity for the funds.
The Little Rock Young Parents Demonstration Grant will work with 200 youth ages 16-24 over a period of three years. All of the youth will be enrolled through The Centers for Youth and Families’ Young Moms/Dads Healthy Families program where they will receive mentoring services to include group counseling, one-on-one counseling as necessary, home visitations, guidance in finding a medical home, healthy baby checkups and proactive case managers whose role is partly defined as a mentor and not merely as a referral agent to outside services.
In addition to these services currently provided by CYF, the staff at Arbor E & T will “bump up” the services for 100 of these young parents with additional intensive and personal attention from employment/education specialists hired to assess their career interests and aptitudes, develop individual employment or training strategies, and refer them to: one-to-one and group mentoring in academics, Life Skills, and employment; sustained GED and High School Diploma attainment efforts; exposure to advanced education and occupational skills training; access to financial aid and tuition assistance; placement in OJT, summer work experience and internships; and connecting them to local jobs created by local employers. Each participant will meet with her or his employment/education specialists twice per week to measure progress and address any needs. The Employment/Education Specialists will put emphasis on placing program graduates in the nursing and allied health-related fields, and occupations with similar potential for growth and upward mobility. Other local industries include elementary and secondary school administration and support, food preparation or full-service restaurants, support activities for mining, trucking and hospitality and traveler accommodation, to name a few.
For more information, please contact:
Lessa Payne, Centers for Youth and Families at 501-660-6886 ext 3316 or LPayne@cfyf.org
Yolanda Williams, Little Rock Workforce Center at 501-320-1709 or Yolanda.Williams@arkansas.gov
Stacy Hagan, Little Rock Workforce Center at 501-907-7095 or Stacy.Hagan@arkansas.gov