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At Two Austin High Schools, Educators and Employers Guide the Next Generation of Electricians

12 Nov

TRIO Electric Commitment Ceremony

Offering pre-apprentice dual credit courses can benefit schools and employers alike. For schools introducing career and technical education (CTE) programs, they can gain industry input and guidance from career professionals. For participating employers, they have the opportunity to help guide the next generation of skilled workers.

At Navarro High School, a pre-apprentice dual credit course is available for students who want to become the future electricians of Austin. The course, now in its second year, is part of a partnership between electrical contractor TRIO Electric, Austin Independent School District and Austin Community College, and is free to participating students.

A second program debuted this year at Premiere High School – Austin North, a ResponsiveEd public charter school. Premiere assembled an on-site fabrication lab on campus for students to earn high school credits while training for two years alongside TRIO’s employees. The program is intended to help dedicated students come away with the experience needed to begin a career as an electrician right after graduation.

Both programs teach students how to be safe, productive and skilled electricians as well as other employable and soft skills. Participating students attended commitment ceremonies at both schools on October 28, 2019.

Students are bused to TRIO Electric and learn about the work electricians perform, including how to read electrical blueprints and bend conduits. The programs offer learning outside of the classroom as well. Students visit construction job sites to observe the work being completed and are offered paid full-time internships in the summer.

Ceremony at Premiere High School

At Premiere High School – Austin North, nine students joined TRIO Electric’s program.

Beau Pollock, President and CEO of TRIO Electric, said, “There is a major demand for skilled labor here. With this program, we can give you a skill to help you get a job to fulfill that demand. When you become part of that supply chain, you will have a great foundation from which to grow from.”

“You are making the choice to join this program and commit to TRIO, ACC, AISD and most importantly to yourself. The definition of commitment is a state of being dedicated to an activity. That activity is learning the electrical trade,” said Beau.

“If you finish the program and are employable, then you will earn a job. That job will lead to a new car, like some of our recent graduates who now can afford transportation. It leads to a savings account, and then a foundation for you to explore options. We will give you the jobs. What you do with those jobs is up to you,” said Beau.

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Indego Clemons and Beau Pollock, , President and CEO of TRIO Electric.

Indego Clemons, an 18-year-old senior at Premiere, joined the program because he sees it as a pathway toward owning his own business.

“My dad owns several businesses, and that inspires me to have my own. I want to invest in my businesses to make more money,” Indego said.

“It’s been really fun, especially when we do hands-on training. Bending metal bars and learning about wiring and connections is the most fun for me,” said Indego.

Chris Thomas is a master electrician who has worked for Austin Independent School District for seven years, maintaining electrical systems at schools across the district. Today, he is the Electrician Trade Instructor at Navarro. For Chris, offering courses like this one are valuable because they help put students on positive directions in life.

“A course like this gives students an early start in learning a trade, and when they graduate they can get a decent paying job to use for the rest of their life if they don’t or can’t go to full-time college,” said Thomas.

Ceremony at Navarro High School

At Navarro High School, 29 students are participating in the program’s second cohort in 2019.

Victor Reyes is a senior at Navarro and a graduate of the first cohort. His advice to the new participants: “The most important thing is to have fun. It’s an amazing and fun class, so enjoy it. You have an electrifying opportunity, so take advantage of it and enjoy yourselves.”

Nallely Silva Knows What She Can Accomplish

16 Sep
Nallely Silva

Nallely Silva

After making the decision to switch careers, how can you be certain you know every step to take next? A life choice like this can be daunting if you’re unsure how to proceed, and more so if you are raising a child. To help ease the process, Workforce Solutions Capital Area offers a variety of services for parents who are seeking work, like Nallely Silva.

In late 2017, Nallely was raising a 3-year-old boy and working at a dental clinic. She was having a bad day, but it soon began to improve: “I was working at the front desk and I was crying because I felt like a failure. I was going through a separation and felt I needed to do something with my life,” Nallely said. “There was a hygienist there who asked me what was going on.”

The hygienist recommended Nallely get in touch with Capital IDEA, one of our community partners that provides financial support and professional guidance to nontraditional students.

“She said she had received assistance from Workforce Solutions and Capital IDEA and had found a job while caring for her five children, so if she can do it then I can. She helped me sign up,” Nallely said.

At Workforce Solutions Capital Area’s North Career Center, Nallely met with Theresa Nealy, Child Care Navigator, who assisted Nallely in enrolling in the Continuity of Care (CoC) program. CoC provides quality child care services while parents search for a job and is funded by the City of Austin and Travis County.

Once enrolled, Nallely began working part time and taking classes at Austin Community College with a focus on occupational therapy. She also studied for certificates as a Registered Dental Assistant and Certified Nursing Assistant, with support from Capital IDEA.

“I brought my son to child care early and I had classes early in the morning, so it was an adjustment for sure,” Nallely said.

Even with long days and a busy class schedule, Nallely found the experience satisfying and the healthcare industry as a place where she can thrive: “I think I have a calling for healthcare. People have shared with me that I am very intuitive, and I really understand my relationship with my client.

“I mold myself to what they need, and I can relate to them. I have a lot of empathy and I feel that is very important in the healthcare field because you are dealing with people—their lives and families—and not numbers,” said Nallely.

Today, Nallely works in a private home healthcare role for Blue Water Homecare at an assisted living facility: “I am with one person, which I love. I like to be with one person to learn what they need from me, it’s interesting and fun.”

Nallely’s direct supervisor, a Registered Nurse, graduated with Capital IDEA’s assistance in 2009: “I feel that she understands my need for flexibility with my schedule and can relate to the demands of juggling school, work and single motherhood,” said Nallely.

“She takes a special interest in supporting my goals, providing me with access to valuable learning opportunities and professional mentorship that will help me be successful in my future career,” Nallely said.

“Nallely is a great example of how the right support, coupled with determination, can lead to success for individuals and their families. For Nallely and other parents returning to school, childcare is critical. We were able to provide Nallely with career guidance and financial support for her education,” said Eva M. Rios-Lleverino, Deputy Executive Director at Capital IDEA.

“Our partners—Workforce Solutions Capital Area, the City of Austin and Travis County—through through Continuity Care ensured Nallely’s son was in good hands. As a result, Nallely was able to set a career goal, invest time in studying, and earn credentials that will continue to benefit her the rest of her life,” Eva said.

Looking ahead, Nallely plans to continue her education by earning a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences degree and ultimately a master’s degree. Nallely knows this will be a challenging experience, but she also knows that she is ready for it.

“Changing like this is hard, especially if you have children or if you don’t have a steady income. But it’s so worth it,” Nallely said. “If you know you have potential, then just do it. Looking back, it was so fun and it’s amazing to learn what you can handle and do in such a short amount of time.”

 

About Continuity of Care
Continuity of Care (CoC) serves as a dual-generation program for low-income families in Travis County, focusing on the whole child as well as the family and community context for growth and development. CoC ensures continuity of services in instances where child care would otherwise be terminated, such as when parents have completed workforce development programs and are currently seeking employment.

CoC ensures continuity of high-quality child care for low income families, serves as an investment rather than an expenditure to the City of Austin because it promotes family self-sufficiency by increasing family capacity to gain or maintain earnings, and provides consistent high-quality child care which helps prepare children to enter kindergarten.

This program is funded by Travis County and the City of Austin, and administered by the Workforce Solutions Capital Area Workforce Board. Workforce Orientation for Applicants (WOA) is an introduction to Workforce Solutions office services.

Katy Moreno Takes All Opportunities to Grow

14 Aug

Young residents of Austin/Travis County who are interested in job skills training and employment opportunities can find them with Workforce Solutions Capital Area and partners like American YouthWorks (AYW). That’s what Katy Moreno began doing in 2018, and today Katy is progressing toward a career in Austin’s growing healthcare industry.

Katy joined AYW in 2018, and met with Lindsey Martinez, Youth Services Career Case Manager, who assisted Katy in enrolling in YouthBuild. This youth services program combines academics with career training, leadership development, and community service at no cost to students.

Katy earned her GED with AYW in December 2018. Additional assistance she received included an internship in the Health Corp program at AYW and building a resume.

“When Katy first came into the program, she had a past of struggling with school in a traditional setting but found her way when she came to the doors of AYW’s GED program,” Lindsey said.

Katy Moreno

Katy Moreno

Taking the first steps of her healthcare career, Katy next earned her Community Health Worker (CHW) and Nursing Assistant certifications in the Health Corps program. Health Corps combines classroom training with hands-on skills and certifications. Students gain practical experience doing screenings at community health fairs, organizing blood donation events, or volunteering with local care providers.

“I’m an independent person, so when it comes to having to study and get in my zone to pass my tests, I pushed myself to the limit. I studied for two months at AYW, and when no one else attended after clinicals, I created ideas and study tactics on my own like doing blood pressure tests on staff,” said Katy.

“Katy is very resourceful and on top of her game. She has learned to advocate for herself in order to receive the help and guidance that she is needing,” Lindsey said.

As an intern with Health Corps, Katy mentored and tutored other students throughout their time in clinicals and assisted with service projects like blood drives.

“Because of this, AYW staff asked Katy to come on as an AmeriCorps member to continue to serve the students in a program that Katy herself once attended,” Lindsey said.

Now as an AmeriCorps member at AYW, Katy serves as a positive role model to the youth attending school there: “I plan and create hands-on activities and service projects. Right now, I am working on a mural of all the Health Corps pathways,” Katy said.

“I am showing the steps toward a job in eight healthcare occupations. From CHW, you can be a healthcare educator or attorney, for example, and I’m mapping all that to have all the information right in front of the students,” said Katy.

The CHW and Nursing Assistant certifications were just the beginning for Katy’s healthcare education, and she has also earned educational aide and special educational aide certifications: “I’m trying to take as many classes and earn as many certifications as I can within the healthcare field,” she said.

“I really want to earn my Phlebotomist and Licensed Vocational Nurse certifications next. I will attend Austin Community College and I am currently working on my FAFSA form,” she said.

“I really like being able to share information related to what I’ve learned and having my certifications allows me to do that,” Katy said.

“Katy is a great example of someone who takes advantage of all opportunities for growth and advancement. She wants to continue to gain experience in the health field so that she can become a nurse. All of Katy’s hard work should be recognized!” Lindsey said.

For Katy, it’s important for young Austin residents pursuing their education and job skills to understand that it can’t all be done right away: “Sometimes young people may want everything right away, like a job, and that can take time to happen. I spoke with some students who left because they didn’t want to wait three months to complete the certification class. They didn’t realize that’s free knowledge and experience they could have gained,” she said.

“Some students may not want to take certifications, but it’s the little things that make you qualified for jobs and earn you more experience,” Katy said.

About WIOA Youth
WIOA Youth is part of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act program funded through Workforce Solutions Capital Area. WIOA is a no-cost employment program designed to give job seekers the support and/or skills training they need to find a job. WIOA offers financial assistance to eligible individuals for job search assistance, training, and other support services.

Visit our WIOA page to learn more.

How Partnering with Texas Mutual Creates Systemic Change in Austin’s Workforce

26 Jul

Logo - Texas Mutual

Building a skilled workforce in Austin requires many partners, such as the businesses that employ Austin’s workers. One of our dedicated partners is Texas Mutual Insurance Company, which has been in business in Austin for almost 30 years with the mission of building a stronger, safer Texas.

Our relationship with Texas Mutual began in early 2018, when Tamara Atkinson, Chief Executive Officer for Workforce Solutions Capital Area, presented the Austin Metro Area Master Community Workforce Plan (Master Plan) at events hosted by Leadership Austin and the Austin Chamber of Commerce.

“Tamara talked about the Master Plan, its goals and target audiences, and it became clear to me that the people Workforce Solutions serves include the employee base of the businesses we insure the most—skilled trades and advanced manufacturing, and healthcare too,” said Jeremiah Bentley, Vice President of Marketing and Customer Engagement at Texas Mutual.

“One of the things we hear from our insurers is a challenge attracting and retaining talent. It seemed like a natural fit to become involved with Workforce Solutions to support that common goal and to help create skilled talent,” Jeremiah said. “It’s also part of our mission to help create economic opportunities for the people who could take advantage of services offered by Workforce Solutions as reflected by the Master Plan.”

VR Safety Zone demonstration

Photo: Ed Sparks Photography

Why emphasize the importance of a skilled workforce? The effort benefits workers and businesses alike, which compounds the overall benefit created for Austin’s economy.

“We know skilled workers are more productive and are hurt less often because they have the knowledge and training to work safely, so it’s a natural fit to help our policyholders acquire that talent. It helps them succeed and grow and helps build a strong economy, and ultimately benefits us as a business too,” Jeremiah said.

“Texas Mutual succeeds when our customers succeed, so we’re always looking for opportunities to help them keep their employees safer,” Jeremiah said.

These opportunities include community involvement in safety training or safety equipment, and contributing to the funding for a baseline evaluation report on the Master Plan conducted by The Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources at the University of Texas at Austin and published in October 2018.

Recently, Texas Mutual funded Trade Up Texas, a career awareness and exploration campaign for skilled trades, launched in December 2018 with funding from Texas Mutual. Along with KVUE, our local ABC affiliate, we partnered to create a Trade Up Texas website and a video series that inspired almost 2,000 Texans to pursue training and work opportunities in the trades over the campaign’s six-month lifespan.

“There is a lack of awareness about opportunities in skilled trades and a lack of awareness among the folks who can most benefit from available programs,” said Jeremiah. “These are talented people who have the will to work hard but haven’t had the exposure to what is out there. We wanted to step in and help them really understand.”

In May 2019, the Trade Up Texas campaign ended with a bang—a two-day event that connected 40 trainers and employers with over 200 people interested in the trades. Texas Mutual contributed funding to the event, called the Apprenticeship Showcase, and also volunteers and a photographer.

VR welding demonstration

Photo: Ed Sparks Photography

“We shared information about training and employment through targeted email messages to respondents tailored to match their specific interest in the trades and provided additional support to respondents with phone calls and in-person visits to our three career centers,” said Leah Meunier, Chief Strategy Officer for Workforce Solutions Capital Area.

Texas Mutual and the Certified Manufacturing Training program
Manufacturing is an important part of the Austin economy, and the second biggest sector in terms of employment in the Austin region: “It’s growing, Austin depends on a lot of their products, and if we can help place folks who are trained and talented into those jobs then it will benefit the job seekers and the business,” said Jeremiah.

In early 2019, Workforce Solutions partnered with Austin Community College (ACC) and the Austin Regional Manufacturers Association (ARMA) to launch the inaugural Certified Manufacturing Training (CPT) program. We identified 11 job seekers to participate and to each earn four certifications—the students completed classroom instruction at ACC and then a paid internship with employer members of ARMA over February and March. Job seekers like Tony Gayles, who is hearing impaired but faced his challenges to earn certifications and now works at Community Impact Printing. Funding from Texas Mutual and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation helped make the program happen.

With the success of the first cohort, we’re launching a second cohort to run from August 26 to October 25. Contact your nearest Career Center to learn more.

“These cohorts are a real tactical way to make a difference in the lives of individuals and get actionable results,” said Jeremiah. “It’s a great program: you get skills training and a certificate, and employment beyond that. It’s something real we can point to that made a difference.”

“Support from employers like Texas Mutual helps us achieve our objective of providing more training and recruiting assistance to businesses in Austin’s skilled trades and advanced manufacturing sectors,” Leah said.

Volunteers from Texas Mutual and Workforce Solutions

Photo: Ed Sparks Photography

How has partnering with Workforce Solutions benefited Texas Mutual?
Achieving the objectives of the Master Plan is not something any organization can do alone. By partnering with private businesses like Texas Mutual, we can create more effective change—to everyone’s benefit.

“Workforce Solutions fits uniquely at the intersection of government and private business working together to make real systemic change in the Austin metro area. It’s a great affiliation for us to have and Texas Mutual receives benefits from that,” said Jeremiah.

“We’ve had the opportunity to speak at Mayor Adler’s Corporate Engagement Council about our successful private-public partnership and our training programs. It’s great for brand exposure and experience,” Jeremiah said.

“People tell me they have family members interested in the trades and entering these programs. We’ve earned great recognition with the Chamber, local government and others, to confirm to them that Texas Mutual is committed to building a safer, stronger Texas,” he said.

Finding skilled talent helps businesses in the long run
With unemployment low and demand for workers high in Austin, Workforce Solutions can assist Austin’s employers with locating the skilled talent they are seeking.

“We’re focusing on skilled trades and manufacturing, but people in every industry have hiring needs and we need to think creatively about how to meet them, hopefully with local talent,” said Jeremiah.

“I think it’s important that businesses take the time to hire the right person—when you feel like you’re in a crunch, it may be tempting to hire any willing person, but that may not be the best thing for your business,” Jeremiah said. “Take your time, take advantage of resources available from Workforce Solutions, and ultimately it will pay off in the long run.”

Jeremiah added, “It’s important for larger employers to come together and collaborate on how we work together with government partners and other private businesses to build a stronger Austin overall, and I hope Texas Mutual can be an example.”

About Employer Services
Workforce Solutions Capital Area’s Business Solutions Team offers a wide array of services to help businesses find, hire, train, and retain skilled workers. To learn more about available assistance for employers, visit our Employee Services page.

Honoring Austin’s Veterans with Employment on National Hire a Veteran Day

25 Jul

Military Badges

Every day, hundreds of military members complete their service. These veterans must make many decisions when transitioning from uniformed service to civilian life, and one of the most important ones is what career path to select. As demand for workers grows in Austin, we’re observing National Hire a Veteran Day today to encourage businesses to consider veterans in their employment strategies.

National Hire a Veteran Day was founded by Hire Our Heroes, a not-for-profit organization assisting veterans with their transition experience. Why observe National Hire a Veteran Day? Austin is home to more than 35,000 veterans, and two-thirds of them are veterans of the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan or Iraq, according to the US Census Bureau.

Many local employers honor Austin’s veterans by hiring them, such as William Baca, owner of William Baca Insurance. William served in the U.S. Army for eight years, and today keeps a keen eye out for other veterans seeking career opportunities.

These include veterans like Dan Cole, who served in the U.S. Navy for five years in a seagoing helicopter squadron, where he was first introduced to computers in a work setting. Today, Dan works as a field service engineer, having earned his certificates in a Security Information Technology Associate program with assistance from Workforce Solutions Capital Area. Also James Poissot, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps for nine years and completed multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq working on manual and automatic transmissions. James was homeless after arriving in Austin, but with assistance from the Workforce Investment Act program through Workforce Solutions Capital Area, James found full-time employment.

An additional benefit that businesses receive when hiring veterans is the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), a federal income tax benefit administered by the Department of Labor (DOL) for employers who hire veterans and other individuals from specified target populations. Credits are available in amounts from $2,400 to $9,600 depending on the veteran group. Visit our Finding Talent page to learn more about the tax credits currently available for hires.

Texas is supportive of its veterans, and businesses that employ those who served are eligible for recognition from the state. In 2017, the Office of the Governor and the Texas Workforce Commission partnered with the Texas Veterans Commission to create the We Hire Vets employer recognition program. Employers whose workforce consists of at least 10 percent veterans can apply for recognition a decal to display on their storefronts and a digital badge to feature on their websites.

Workforce Solutions Capital Area’s Board Staff received the We Hire Vets award in 2018 and 2019 and also the DOL 2018 Gold HIRE Vets Medallion Program Demonstration Award, which recognizes employer efforts to recruit, employ, and retain veterans. Veterans make up 14 percent of the Board Staff, with a combined 19 years of service.

At our three Career Centers, veterans receive priority for job and training referrals. Our career specialists are specifically trained to help veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces and can help Austin’s veterans achieve maximum employment and training opportunities. Visit our Veterans Services page to learn more.

How will you help spread the word about the skills and value veterans bring to the workforce on National Hire a Veteran Day? Tell us is a comment below!

Tony Gayles Faced His Challenges and Found Success

14 Jun
Tony Gayles

Tony Gayles

Workforce Solutions Capital Area offers job seekers the support and/or skills training they need to find a job, including training for in-demand occupations, with a variety of programs with public and private funding. Tony Gayles is a job seeker who has benefited from these training services, and today he is working a productive and satisfying job.

Tony has lived in Austin since 2005, when his family moved here from California. Tony is hearing impaired, which makes searching for a job challenging.

“Job searching for me comes with challenges that could put a cloud over employers seeing me as their prospective employee,” Tony said. “Their foremost thoughts may be how to communicate with me, would I pose a risk to others or myself, and the cost to accommodate my needs or surroundings.”

Tony has not let this challenge stop him from finding work, and in 2019 he came to Workforce Solutions Capital Area to search for a job: “When I first came to Workforce Solutions, I didn’t know what to expect but I was hopeful I would find a job that would match my experiences,” Tony said.

At Workforce Solutions Capital Area’s North Career Center, Tony met with Ruben Altamirano, a career counselor, and together they explored work and training opportunities available with funding from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program.

“Some of the services I’ve used here were computers for job searches and resume writing, a presentation on overcoming barriers, and ASL interpreting services,” Tony said. “Workforce Solutions also gives necessary information and support services to employers to help hearing-impaired job seekers like me find and keep a job.”

Tony also attended an information session to learn about a free manufacturing production training and paid internship to become a Certified Production Technician (CPT). He was one of 14 people in a pool of 78 chosen to participate in the inaugural Certified Production Technician Training Program funded by Texas Mutual Insurance Company and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, and offered by Workforce Solutions Capital Area in partnership with Austin Community College and the Austin Regional Manufacturers Association.

“When I was selected to participate in the program, it was an amazing feeling to know that more doors would open up for me,” Tony said.

Tony began participating in the program in February, and earned his CPT certifications and completed his paid internship in March. During the program, he attended classroom training 12 hours per week at Austin Community College’s Highland Campus and worked 200 hours for a paid internship at Community Impact Printing for 40 hours per week. He maintained excellent attendance at both the training and on the job.

“The scheduling was tough especially with having two small children at home, but I’ve managed with help from my mother who cared for my children,” Tony said.

“The classes were nighttime, and the internship started early in the morning with eight-hour shifts. On some days after my shift, I would go straight to classes, which can be exhausting,” Tony said. “I brought coffee to class most of the time. I’ve learned many things, but most important were quality, safety, maintenance and production, which I’ve applied while working at Community Impact Printing.”

During his internship, Tony received many opportunities to apply his new knowledge and excel in a variety of roles.

“Over my first three days, I was rigorously trained for safety, including forklifting, and I’ve obtained my certificate to operate lift trucks. I was assigned different roles and I’m cross-trained to work in warehouse, mail table, inventories and cutter roles. There are more roles that I’m eager to learn in the future,” Tony said.

“Tony has been reaching his goals of being a hard worker and obtaining new skills, and he is growing with Community Impact Printing,” Ruben said.

Today, Tony is working part time at Community Impact Printing until he becomes eligible to work full time.

For other job seekers exploring similar opportunities, Tony offers this advice: “For anyone who chooses to take training like the CPT program, stay motivated and energized until you’ve completed your courses. Your reward will be to accept full-time employment.”

Child Care Providers Receive Recognition on National Provider Appreciation Day

10 May
Director Jerri Thompson reads to a class of children.

Director Jerri Thompson reads to a class of children at St. George’s Episcopal School.

Mother’s Day isn’t the only day in May that we celebrate those individuals who nurture and develop children. Child care providers also deserve recognition, which is why today is National Provider Appreciation Day.

Workforce Solutions Capital Area provides subsidized childcare assistance to eligible low- to moderate-income families in Travis County while parents can find work or complete training to support their families. Our services related to child care are not just for Austin’s parents, however, but child care providers as well. To celebrate the providers caring for Austin’s children—our community’s future workforce—we’re joining the national observance of National Provider Appreciation Day!

This event began in 1996 with a single group of volunteers in New Jersey. The drive to recognize the dedicated efforts of child care providers has grown year by year, and today Provider Appreciation Day is a national event.

We understand the value that child care providers create for their community. By guiding the growth and development of children today, they help positively shape our community tomorrow.

As part of our commitment to quality child care, Workforce Solutions Child Care Services offers quality rated programs, quality initiative activities and other community resources to child care providers who strive for quality.

One of our largest offerings is the Child Care Directors Symposium, now in its 17th year. This two-day event features keynote speakers and workshops to inform and inspire the leadership of our community’s child care providers.

The 2019 symposium was held February 22 – 23 with 250 directors in attendance. The speakers and workshops motivated participants to strengthen their centers’ programs for the benefit of staff and children alike.

We also offer an annual Child Care Teachers Symposium to provide professional development opportunities for the staff at child care centers. The Austin community benefits when we guide child care staff and administrators to provide high-quality care to local families.

Use the hashtag #ProviderAppreciationDay on social media to follow the Provider Appreciation Day momentum. How will you celebrate? Tell us in a comment below!

On National Teacher Appreciation Day, Thanking Those Who Guide the Next Generation

7 May

Asian Female Teacher Teaching Mixed Race Diversity Group Of Kids

The youth learning and playing in Austin today will become the skilled and productive workforce of tomorrow. To help guide them on their journey, many Austinites act as teachers in child care centers and schools across our community. For their valuable role, we’re thanking them today on National Teacher Appreciation Day.

The National Education Association describes National Teacher Day as “a day for honoring teachers and recognizing the lasting contributions they make to our lives.” Every day, teachers mold children’s lives in a positive direction.

We support Austin’s child care teachers by hosting the annual Child Care Teachers Symposium, a daylong event of learning, networking and storytelling to motivate and remind teachers while their roles are so important. Almost 300 teachers attended 2018’s event. This year’s Child Care Teachers Symposium is scheduled for August 10 at the Hyatt Regency, with a theme that focuses on teacher-child interaction and positive guidance.

Today, say “Thank you” to the teachers in your life and let them know that they are appreciated. Learn about the teachers in the lives of others by following the hashtag #TeacherAppreciationDay or #NationalTeachersDay on social media. Who are the teachers who inspire you or your children? Tell us in a comment below!

Support Texas Students Getting to and Through College on GenTX Day

3 May

2019 GenTXDay

Today is a special day, and not just because it’s Friday. Today is GenTX Decision Day, an important milestone in the Generation Texas movement. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) created the Generation Texas movement in 2010 as a statewide initiative to support all students, and high school seniors especially, in getting to and through college.

GenTX Decision Day is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate students for their postsecondary plans in front of their school’s entire student body. It’s an exciting day with school spirit and communities working together to build excitement and awareness surrounding the college selection and enrollment process.

THECB’s 2019 goals are to have at least 1,200 Texas high schools accept the challenge and register for GenTX Decision Day to support students with activities, events, and outreach; every participating high school in Texas increase ApplyTexas and FAFSA completions by 4 percent above last year; and every eligible student complete and submit the FAFSA or TASFA and an application to at least one institution of higher education.

Generation Texas also supports the regional efforts and goals of the 60x30TX Texas Challenge to Reach Higher, which aligns with the national Reach Higher Initiative, to increase completion of college applications, FAFSA, and college readiness indicators.

You can help contribute to the spirit of the day by talking to students about their college choices or reaching out to students to encourage them to complete the enrollment process. Do you know any students who might traditionally be overlooked when it comes to college planning? Engage with them about their options for college! Ask about their postsecondary education plans after high school as they board the bus, go through the lunch line, or walk into church, a store, or their classrooms!

You can follow GenTX Decision Day on social media with the hashtag #GenTXDay. Have other ideas about how to inspire young Texans to participate? Tell us in a comment below!

Parents Like Darriana Donegan Return to the Workforce with Continuity of Care

9 Apr
Darriana Donegan and her son

Darriana Donegan and her son.

Searching for a job can be a challenging experience, and more so if you have children to care for. To help ease the process, Workforce Solutions Capital Area offers a variety of services for parents who are seeking work, like Darriana Donegan.

Darriana moved from Iowa to Texas in May 2018 and stayed briefly with family in San Antonio. She made Austin her home in August 2018. “I currently live in North Austin, far enough out to feel the small city peace and quiet, but close enough to downtown to still feel connected,” Darriana said.

After her move, Darriana was unemployed and lacked the resources needed to provide child care for her son. Through word of mouth, she was able to explore assistance available from Workforce Solutions Capital Area.

“I learned about Workforce Solutions Capital Area from a friend of mine who is employed by the University of Texas and also has little ones,” said Darriana. “She recommended that I look into Workforce Solutions for childcare assistance when I began my transition from being a stay-at-home mom to a working mom.”

Darriana met with Theresa Nealy, Child Care Navigator with Workforce Solutions Capital Area, and enrolled in the Continuity of Care (CoC) program, which provides quality child care services while parents search for a job.

“My first impression of Workforce Solutions is a memorable one,” said Darriana. “Theresa left me a voicemail stating that my application had been approved and that she was looking forward to talking more with me. I was very excited to receive that call that solidified my access to being a working mom, otherwise I would not have been able to afford the full cost of child care.”

While participating in the program, Darriana had positive impressions of her experience.

“I had a great experience in the CoC program. Theresa was available to answer any of my questions in a timely manner and was always able to point me in the correct direction to resources,” said Darriana. “The paperwork was as simple as it could be and the flexibility in submitting via in person, fax, and email were super helpful for me with my new busy schedule.”

“Darriana used our resources to change her economic status and secure quality child care services for her son. This is quite an accomplishment, given the customer relocated to Austin and did not have adequate resources to obtain child care, job search and secure gainful employment,” said Theresa.

With her son receiving care, Darriana committed herself to proactively seeking a job with assistance from Workforce Solutions Capital Area. She secured a full-time position within 90 days. Today, Darriana works at Youth Rise Texas, a nonprofit in East Austin that works with young people who have been impacted by incarceration or deportation, so that they may heal, take action, and cultivate compassionate communities.

“My role at Youth Rise is Program Coordinator: I lead a team of four and together we work to coordinate all of the moving pieces that make Youth Rise programs so successful!” Darriana said.

Looking back on her experience to secure care for her son and full-time employment, Darriana offered advice for others who may be in her same situation.

“My advice to any parent who is looking to transition back into the workforce after a break is to check out the CoC program while you are on your job search,” Darriana said. “You receive 90 days of care, a plethora of job search resources (really great jobs, too!), and the time that you need to really focus on your job search.”

She added, “It’s really hard to be on the hunt for a job while worrying about having to afford child care while going on interviews. The CoC program will relieve that stress for you!”

 

About Continuity of Care
Continuity of Care (CoC) serves as a dual-generation program for low-income families in Travis County, focusing on the whole child as well as the family and community context for growth and development. CoC ensures continuity of services in instances where child care would otherwise be terminated, such as when parents have completed workforce development programs and are currently seeking employment.

CoC ensures continuity of high-quality child care for low income families, serves as an investment rather than an expenditure to the City of Austin because it promotes family self-sufficiency by increasing family capacity to gain or maintain earnings, and provides consistent high-quality child care which helps prepare children to enter kindergarten.

This program is funded by Travis County and the City of Austin, and administered by the Workforce Solutions Capital Area Workforce Board. Workforce Orientation for Applicants (WOA) is an introduction to Workforce Solutions office services.