Bridgeport's Welfare-to-Work Initiative Targets "Unseen Parent"
do you connect with a person who doesn't work, doesn't go to school,
doesn't use the services of organizations, and doesn't have custody of
his or her child on welfare? Bridgeport is answering this question
with the help of a Welfare-to-Work program operated under a
competitive federal grant by The WorkPlace, Inc., Southwestern
Connecticut's Regional Workforce Development Board. Because Workplace
officials believe that the employment of individuals fitting this
description - known as "non-custodial parents" - is part of
the missing bridge to family unity and self sufficiency, their
Welfare-to-Work effort includes services customized for them.
most other urban areas across the nation, Bridgeport has its share of
non-custodial parents - most of them male, most of them in need of a
job. With fear, distrust, a desire to avoid "the system,"
and lack of targeted and coordinated outreach often keeping them away
from formal service systems, non-custodial parents find ways to stay
in touch with their families and participate in a system of support
that blends welfare benefits and other non-formal income. Though their
families may grow and their relationships may change, the habit of
avoiding governmental systems is hard for non-custodial parents to
collaboration with the City, The WorkPlace's Welfare-to-Work program
is currently providing pre-employment training, on-the-job training,
job search assistance, job placement and retention support,
transportation support, repaired car purchase options, lifelong
learning incentives, and post-employment training for 154 individuals;
among the 81 Bridgeport residents in this group are 16 non-custodial
parents who are present despite the obstacles standing in the way of
their participation, and despite some serious personal concerns.
to these obstacles, The WorkPlace has developed strategies which focus
on contacting, enrolling and providing service to non-custodial
parents. The WorkPlace:
across this nation share the need to bring fathers and families on
welfare together," says Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim, "and
Welfare-to-Work programs offer an effective web for reaching "unseen
WorkPlace's Welfare-to-Work program began in July 1998 with the award
of a three-year, $5,000,000 competitive grant to serve a total of 550
people in the Southwestern Connecticut region. While there are 20
communities in this region, the City of Bridgeport is home to 70
percent of the people in need of the program's services - primarily
long-term welfare recipients whose profile of limited education, low
skill levels, little or no work experience, and need for substance
abuse treatment makes them the hardest to employ.
the start of the program, 73 participants - most of them Bridgeport
residents - have been placed in jobs. Of these, 39 have met the 60-day
retention target and five have met the six- month target.
information on The WorkPlace's efforts in Bridgeport is available from
Barbara Stracka at (203) 576-7030, ext. 308, or at firstname.lastname@example.org