Tag Archives: Choices

Navigating the Sea of Unemployment

2 Feb

The Watters - PhotoIn 2014, Natalie and Jason “J.J.” Watters found themselves in the same boat: they were both unemployed at the same time. The couple was determined to keep their heads above water even though they faced significant challenges such as debt and taking care of their two young children, so they dove head first into the CHOICES Program at Workforce Solutions Capital Area.

According to their CHOICES case manager LaShaila Mitchum, the Watters went to the Workforce Solutions North Center at 7:45 a.m. every day for four weeks, where they participated in job readiness classes and searched for jobs. The Watters were “beacons of positivity,” said Ms. Mitchum, and they offered support and words of encouragement to other CHOICES participants.

Mrs. Watters said the family appreciated the classes that taught them how to interview for jobs, fill out job applications and write their resumes.

Mrs. Watters said the most challenging aspect of the couple’s job search was that many employers were slow to respond to online job applications. “There was no face-to-face contact. You have to be persistent. It’s as if you are one fish in a big sea,” she said. “You want the companies to see what you bring to the table, but without personally meeting recruiters, you’re just a piece of paper, just a resume.”

Mrs. Watters also said the on-site hiring events at Workforce Solutions’ career centers were invaluable. Mr. Watters received a notification through his WorkInTexas.com account about a UPS job fair, and he spoke face-to-face with a recruiter at the hiring event. That day, Mr. Watters filled out his application on a computer at the career center. He interviewed for a temporary truck loader position at UPS the next day, and he received a job offer on the spot. “The recruiter at the hiring event went through the whole hiring process,” Mrs. Watters said. “She left nothing uncertain.” Mr. Watters was a temporary worker until January 15, when he accepted a full-time truck loader position at UPS.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Watters, who has worked in the childcare industry for more than a decade, accepted a job offer as a curriculum coordinator and after-school and summer camp director at a children’s learning center. Her new schedule is conducive to her family; her daughter attends day care at the children’s learning center, and her son’s school is nearby.

“The Watters have truly set the standard for clients who are facing many obstacles and still manage to exceed program requirements,” said Ms. Mitchum. “Mr. Watters worked from 1 a.m. to 8 a.m. and would still come to the center and is constantly praised for his work ethic. Mrs. Watters is the epitome of a family’s backbone. I have seen her in so many instances encourage other CHOICES clients to keep up the fight in efforts to provide a good-quality of life for their families as well as provide them with community resources.”

About the Choices Program

For individuals receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Workforce Solutions Capital Area offers one-on-one job search assistance and support services through the Choices program.  Choices is a no-cost employment program designed to give TANF recipients the assistance and support they need to find a job. Specifically, Choices can provide:

  • Job search assistance
  • Child care
  • Transportation assistance
  • Work-related expenses
  • Referrals to other community services

Eligibility for the Choices program and TANF is determined by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). For more information about eligibility requirements, please visit http://www.hhsc.state.tx.us/Help/Financial/temporary-assistance.shtml.

Realizing Help IS Available

31 Jan

LaShannon Appleby - PhotoOne challenge, one hurdle can easily discourage a lot of people. Unlike those people, LaShannon Appleby accepts each challenge as being exactly that – a challenge. As a young mother of an infant child, LaShannon understands her decisions do not just affect her future.

After a tumultuous childhood as an at-risk youth in the foster care program, LaShannon moved to Austin after high school to pursue her education and a better life for herself and her daughter.

“I want my daughter to know that I’ve sacrificed it all,” says LaShannon. “I don’t want her to future to be my past.”

Despite drive and determination, LaShannon was unable to find employment that could support her young family both financially and time-wise. Her first job at a gas station did not offer a regular schedule, making it impossible to utilize traditional child care.  LaShannon had to resort to costly or often inconvenient baby-sitting requests.

In the fall of 2013, LaShannon enrolled in the Choices program and began working with her Career Counselor Susan Wondra.

“At the time of our intake, LaShannon was struggling to provide a comfortable life for her and her infant daughter,” says Susan. “Although she has no family support and had a difficult time keeping her job with no assistance, LaShannon has always had an exceptionally good attitude and a smile on her face. She has more self-motivation and drive than the average individual and because she is so humble, she does not realize the successes she has made as a young mother.”

Utilizing available child care services and transportation assistance, LaShannon was not only able to increase the number of available hours she could work but she also secured a new full-time job with a 50% increase in hourly pay!

“Without Ms. Wondra, my daughter and I could have been sleeping in my car,” says LaShannon. “I want people to know they don’t have to give up. There are a lot of resources in Texas. There is help. You are not alone.”

About the Choices Program

For individuals receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Workforce Solutions Capital Area offers one-on-one job search assistance and support services through the Choices program.  Choices is a no-cost employment program designed to give TANF recipients the assistance and support they need to find a job. Specifically, Choices can provide:

  • Job search assistance
  • Child care
  • Transportation assistance
  • Work-related expenses
  • Referrals to other community services

Eligibility for the Choices program and TANF is determined by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). For more information about eligibility requirements, please visit http://www.hhsc.state.tx.us/Help/Financial/temporary-assistance.shtml.

The Tools to Make a Positive Change

31 Jan

Heraldo Quiroz - PhotoAs an unemployed father of three, Heraldo Quiroz was no stranger to tough situations.  Having been out of works for nearly half a year, Heraldo lacked the tools and support he needed to get back on his feet, including providing child support.  As a part of the Non-Custodial Parent (NCP) Choices program, he found both at Workforce Solutions Capital Area and began working with his Career Counselor Tammy Powell.

Unfortunately, unemployment was not Heraldo’s only barrier to success and responsibility.  A lack of transportation and a criminal background made it difficult for him to identify and interview for positions that would be the right fit for him. Workforce Solutions provided Heraldo with assistance for his job search, transportation and work attire.

“I was given tools to help with a job search that I didn’t even know were there,” Heraldo said.  “Things don’t usually work out for me. This program and Tammy really helped me get back on track.”

In just over two months, Heraldo found employment and, with an employment retention incentive, helped purchase a computer to assist with his wife’s school work.

“Heraldo said he was ‘paying it forward’ to help someone else,” said Tammy Powell.  “He took the NCP program seriously and utilized every advantage of the support services we offer.

“I am proud to have worked with Heraldo. He is an example of what can be achieved with goals in mind and the necessary support to achieve them.”

About the NCP Choices Program

The Non-Custodial Parent (NCP) Choices program is a collaborative initiative to help non-custodial parents pay child support.  The Travis County Child Support Court (the Court), the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and Workforce Solutions Capital Area (Workforce Solutions) work together to help non-custodial parents find employment to pay their owed child support and become a contributing member of the local workforce.

The OAG and the Court identify those non-custodial parents who are in need of and qualify for the NCP Choices program. Qualifications for the program include: the child is currently receiving state assistance in the form of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Medicaid; and the non-custodial parent must reside in Travis County, have a social security number and not be currently receiving disability benefits.

Workforce Solutions works with the non-custodial parent to help them secure a job, including identifying and addressing additional outside barriers to obtaining employment.

For more information about the NCP program, contact Workforce Solutions Capital Area.

 

Workforce Solutions Capital Area is an equal opportunity employer. Auxiliary aids and services are available, upon request, to persons with disabilities. Relay Texas: 800.735.2989 (TDD) / 711 (Voice).