Thursday, December 23 2010

Empowering Homeless Families Through Housing Linked with Employment Services

A new pilot program in King County is helping more than 100 families in our Washington Families Fund programs access the long-term training and education programs they need to earn a living wage. Building Changes and the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County (WDC) have pooled resources to support a three-year grant to the YWCA of Seattle-King County-Snohomish County for Housing and Employment Navigator services.

Navigators help heads of households set long-term goals and access employment services such as those available through the county's WorkSource system. The program promotes a person-centered, strengths-based approach that is, as one case manager described it, “'putting power in the hands of clients.”

"Everyone is employable, and everyone wants to work," says Mike Schwartz, YWCA's Associate Director of Employment Services, who manages the program. "What we see is that people want not only to survive and provide for their families, they also want to thrive and grow."

To ensure that more homeless families have the opportunity to thrive and grow, Building Changes is embarking on a new partnership with WorkForce Central in Tacoma. Beginning in 2011, a three-year grant will expand Housing and Employment Navigator services to families in Pierce County.