October 28, 2014 (Chester, Pa) – The Boys & Girls Club of Chester recently received a $1.4 million Face-Forward 2 sub-grant from Connection Training Services of Philadelphia. This three year Department of Labor grant creates the opportunity for a new program to be developed in Chester that is focused on addressing the employment barriers of court-involved young people between the ages of 14-24, while helping these young people to develop the employment skills needed to obtain lucrative employment.
With a goal of more than 200 young people to receive this impactful level of assistance, the Boys & Girls Club realizes that this must be a local and County-wide integrated partnership to ensure future success for the young people and the community.
Partnerships are developed with the following:
- Delaware County Office of District Attorney
- Juvenile Probation Office
- City of Chester – Office of Community Liaisons
- Chester Police Department
- WorkReady Chester
- Widener University Law School and Social Work Counseling Services
- Crozer-Keystone Substance Abuse Services and Behavioral Health
- Chester Drug Free Communities
- Chester-Upland School District
- Chester Higher Education Council
- College Access Center of Delaware County
- Proverbs Basketball & Mentoring Association
- City of Promise
- Local Laborers Union 413.
This new program has eight core components that include: case management, mentoring, educational interventions, service-learning, occupational training in demand industries which lead to industry-recognized credentials, workforce activities that lead to employment, follow-up services, and expungement and diversion services (collaborating with non-profit legal services providers). Janet Riley-Ford, executive director of the Boys & Girls Club, comments, “We are thankful to Connection Training Services for awarding us this important grant to help the young people of Chester with a new opportunity to transition into the workforce through the support of the business and law communities.”
Local law enforcement is an integral partner in this program with the reality that a young person will be eligible as a result of their prior court involvement with the juvenile justice system (JJS). There is evidence that expungement and diversion services provide an effective strategy for youth who have had transgressions with the law.
District Attorney Jack Whelan comments, “Juvenile arrests can follow individuals for the rest of their lives and become a major barrier to inclusion and advancement in the workforce. This program will address this issue by developing skills and increasing the opportunities youth need to move forward successfully in the workforce. Through this county-wide partnership led by the Boys & Girls Club of Chester, I believe more youth will have the opportunity to leave their past transgressions behind them and look forward towards a promising, brighter future.”