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Workforce Investment Board receives $1.5 million grant to train female ex-offenders

By WKTV News

The Workforce Investment Board of Herkimer, Madison and Oneida County has received a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to provide critical employment and support services for previously incarcerated female adults as they make the transition back into their communities, WIB Executive Director Alice J. Savino announced.

"This is a great opportunity for these women and girls to turn their lives around," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "These federal grants will help them obtain the job training and support services they need to positively contribute to their communities and their families."

"We are very grateful for the Department of Labor's support in our efforts to ensure that all parts of our community have the opportunity to overcome adversity and create a better life," said Savino. "Over the three years of this grant, we will be helping 300 women with job training services, counseling to help them deal with domestic violence and other barriers that are very prevalent among women, and also provide training in non-traditional occupations that can help our employers and our economy."

Savino noted that the project will include partnerships with the Oneida County Correctional Facility, Mohawk Valley Community College, Women's Employment Resource Center, Resource Center for Independent Living and BOCES. "The WIB wants to thank the tremendous leadership that the Oneida County Sheriff's Office showed in this project. Sheriff Robert Maciol and his staff worked very diligently with our staff to help us focus in upon the problems of female offenders and develop solutions so that we can help women become employed and transition away from a destructive lifestyle after they leave the jail," Savino said.

Savino said that project services will begin in early September, and that information on the project will be made available on the WIB's web site, www.working-solutions.org

The WIB was among nine grantees selected from across the country. The funds will be used to provide services including job training that leads to credentials in high-demand industries; employment preparation; mentoring; supportive services such as housing, and substance abuse and mental health treatment; family counseling; and assistance with parenting and child reunification. Providing guidance and support in addition to job training gives previously incarcerated women the stability necessary to improve their educational and employment outcomes, including increasing high school graduation rates, improving literacy and math skills, and entering college and/or other post-secondary training and employment.

Reintegrating formerly incarcerated individuals is a government-wide effort supported by the Federal Interagency Re-entry Council. Chaired by the U.S. Department of Justice, the council brings together numerous federal agencies to advance policies and programs to make communities safer and assist individuals returning to communities from prison or jail in becoming productive, taxpaying citizens.
According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports, women accounted for 25.5 percent of all arrests in 2010, including 19.5 percent of arrests for violent crime and 37.6 percent of arrests for property crimes. Over the past 10 years, arrests of men declined by 6.8 percent while arrests of women increased by 10.5 percent.

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