Grants approved to help Carroll youth and those with employment barriers get jobs

Carroll County Times

The Carroll County Board of Commissioners approved funding this week to help low-income adults with employment barriers, dislocated workers and disconnected youth find work.

The three commissioners present Thursday — Stephen Wantz, R-District 1; Richard Weaver, R-District 2; and Dennis Frazier, R-District 3 — unanimously approved the Department of Economic Development’s acceptance of two grants to help the disadvantaged individuals: a Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Formula Grant Award for about $1.2 million and a Summer Youth Connection Grant award for $23,328.

Through the WIOA grant, the county’s Business & Employment Resource Center can “serve low-income adults throughout the year,” said BERC Manager Denise Rickell. “The dislocated workers, anybody whose lost their job through no fault of their own, as well as disconnected youth aged 16 to 24 in the year-round program.

“In fiscal year 2018, we had 11,500 visits to this center,” she said. “A lot of this is self service, so people can come in and use the computers and other resources. Out of [the 11,500], we ended up directly serving ... 4,285 citizens. We do individualized work counseling with them, look at work history, help with resumes, see if there’s any skill or training gap needed, and if there is any skill or training gap that can be part of their plan to get re-employed and we will actually pay for that training.”

Frazier asked how the employees at BERC know where to dedicate their efforts.

“How do you know which ones to work more intensely with?” he asked. “How do you know, is it the information they enter, what they’re looking for — or do they come to you and say, ‘I need additional help.’ ”

Rickell said it’s usually determined through various assessments and conversations with the person.

“We do it on an individual basis,” she said, “not just what they put on paper, although what they put on paper is the beginning of the dialogue.

“If you talk to someone, maybe you realize all they need is help with their resume getting job leads,” Rickell said. “But then maybe there’s that person that comes in and they’ve been applying for jobs and not getting interviews.”

But each person who comes in does directly speak with someone in the office, said Deputy Director of Economic Development Denise Beaver.

“And we kind of have an intake form where they self-report a lot of information for us,” Beaver said.

Weaver said he was impressed with the good things he’s been hearing about BERC.

“You have a very good reputation,” he told the representatives at the meeting.

“We appreciate being able to have the facility here on campus,” Rickell said. “It’s very convenient for citizens to be able to come in and use the services.”

Commissioners also approved accepting the Summer Youth Connection Grant, which employs up to 18 disadvantaged youths to work for six weeks over the summer.

Through the program, youths work for an employer and are directly paid through the grant program.

“What happens if say, some of these folks that you’ve put into place over the summer decide they want to stay with that employer,” Wantz asked. “So that reverts back to the employer being responsible for the wages? Are they making minimum wage from us?”

They’re put on the county’s payroll as contractors being paid minimum wage, Rickell said. And if the employer chooses, they’d have to hire them as they would any new employee.

But with slightly more than $20,000 for the program, Wantz asked if everyone who needed assistance was able to find summer employment through the program, or if there was a waiting list.

Rickell said there is no waiting list, but it is for a specific group of individuals.

“It’s not open to all youth,” she said. “It’s usually those who have some challenge or barrier — low-income, youth offenders. Some may be homeless, were homeless, foster children. It’s not open to everyone. It’s to give work to those who might not be able to get it.”

“They also are building a resume for the first time,” Weaver said. “They actually have somebody to recommend them for something. With that, I’ll put a motion to approve it.”

Both the WIOA and Summer Youth Connection grants are coming to the county through the the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to the Mid-Maryland Workforce Development Area, which is comprised of Howard and Carroll counties, and allocations are split between the two counties through the Mid-Maryland Consortium Agreement.

jennifer.turiano@carrollcountytimes.com

410-857-7898

twitter.com/jturianoCCT

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