By: Randy Dancer, Assistant Director, San Bernardino County DCSS
At the 2017 NCSEA Leadership Symposium, San Bernardino County DCSS received the Collaboration and Innovative Partnership Award for the Bridges to Employment Program. Bridges to Employment is a collaborative partnership between DCSS and the county’s Workforce Development Department (WDD) in helping customers find jobs.
The idea for the Bridges to Employment was born out of the concept that if we partner with the non-custodial parent in removing the obstacles, such as unemployment, that are preventing them from paying their child support, they can become successful, resulting in reliable payments for their family.
To assist with this challenge, DCSS identified WDD and the America’s Job Centers of California (AJCC) as the ideal partner. The AJCC offers employment services to unemployed and underemployed customers through grants and partnerships with local employers and vocational training providers.
Staff from both departments participated in strategy sessions that developed a referral process and forms, evaluations for the effectiveness of referrals, a report-back mechanism on customer participation, and a review process to make adjustments to the program, ensuring customers can maximize the benefit of the services offered.
DCSS provided our internal staff with information on the concept and goals of the Bridges to Employment Program, as well as the referral process when a caseworker or attorney identifies a customer who needs employment assistance. When the customer goes into the AJCC, they are offered assistance with an initial assessment, case management services, employment workshops, job development, and placement assistance. Advisors are available for one-on-one assistance, as needed, for resume writing, interview skills, and vocational training opportunities.
As an incentive for participation, there can be a conditional release of any driver’s license suspensions so the customer can actively participate in the program. With the customer’s permission, the AJCC can share back information on the customer’s progress.
The Bridges to Employment Program has been a great success for customers. Since October, 149 customers have successfully enrolled for services, and 64 (43%) secured employment, which has assisted the participants in meeting their obligation and ensuring consistent support for the families. Other successes include public assistance cost avoidance, long-term financial independence and self-sufficiency, and reliability of family support.
By partnering with the customer, and other service providers who can provide additional services we have the ability to help our customers achieve long-term success for themselves and their families.