Office of Children and Family Services

Office of Workforce Development

Activities

Assessment - Each youth placed in an OCFS facility is administered the Holland Self-Directed Search Inventory. The Inventory assesses career interests, grouped according to the following six clusters:

  • Realistic occupations, e.g. skilled trades, technical occupations, and some helping occupations.
  • Artistic occupations, e.g. artists, musicians, and writers.
  • Investigative occupations, e.g. scientists and technicians.
  • Social occupations, e.g. teachers and helpers.
  • Enterprising occupations, e.g. managers and sales people.
  • Conventional occupations, e.g. office and clerical workers.

Information culled from this assessment is used to guide career counseling discussions and focus vocational plans that may result in placement in a specialized training program upon release.

Career and Financial Management - With increasing frequency, employment & training practitioners are hearing from private sector employers. "What we need," they say, "are young people who have the right attitudes, who are enthusiastic, who come to work on time, and are eager to learn. We'll teach them the skills."

This plea has not gone unheeded by OWD. Each participant in our vocational programs is provided vibrant instruction in Career and Financial Management, the part of our vocational program continuum that addresses the very work-relevant attitudes and behaviors so valued by employers.

In Career and Financial Management instruction, youth learn the "rules" of the work place, those formal and informal workplace tenets that can either "make or break" a job experience. Too often, what we assume as "common knowledge" is really the end result of growing up in a household led by working parents, where these and other values are imparted through role modeling. Denied this exposure, even youth motivated to succeed may nonetheless fail when confronting the challenge posed by difficult supervisors and workplace stress. OWD Career and Financial Management instruction tells youth what they need to know!

Career Exploration - Where lengths of stay permit, facility youth rotate through a series of vocational offerings. This process familiarizes participants with the basics of many vocational trades, such as safety, tool identification and usage, and fundamental workplace practices associated with most jobs. In this exploratory phase, youth also learn transferable skills and practices, those common to all facets of the work world.

Skills Training- In this program phase, youth are assigned to a vocational area to learn a level of mastery. These vocational areas may include auto mechanics, food services, building trades, business practices, horticulture, and building and grounds maintenance.

On-the-Job-Training - Once youth graduate from career exploration and skills training phases, or are deemed ready to participate in a vocational offering that presupposes a higher level of skill and maturity, they may participate in On-the-Job Training (OJT). Simulating a job experience, but maintaining a learning focus, this activity is compensated and often represents the first paid "job" experience participants have ever had.

Community Service - The rewards associated with the world of work are, of course, not only financial. Sometimes, when it directly benefits others, the rewards touch a worker personally. This experience can provide important lessons regarding the many ways that work helps others. This is why, in 2003, OWD introduced Community Service as an additional offering in the career education continuum.

Combining the spirit of community work with skills training, a strong Community Service opportunity can be an unforgettable turning point in a young worker's preparation for employment.

Portfolio Development

Portfolios are a valuable resource for anyone seeking to enter or advance in workplace settings. Their significance is even greater for OCFS youth as they seek to compete with youth in the general population. Initiated while in residential placement, portfolios also provide a platform for youth to display their skills, strengths, and talents. Youth practice job seeking through the use of their portfolios on campus through mock interviews, pre-placement interviews and on-the-job-training interviews before entering a real situation in the community.

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