Work Opportunities for Rewarding Careers (WORC)
The Workplace Center developed WORC, an evidence-informed career readiness program to promote employment and economic well-being for underrepresented and vulnerable individuals. We have provided training and technical assistance to help staff implement WORC at numerous agencies nationally that serve individuals with mental health conditions. We are also evaluating the impact of WORC on staff capacity and individual vocational, education and well-being outcomes.
Young Adult Work Opportunities for Rewarding Careers (YA WORC)
The Workplace Center adapted WORC specifically for vulnerable young people including those living in poverty, in foster care or alumni of foster care, court-involved, or with serious persistent mental health conditions. YA WORC is an evidence-informed, developmentally appropriate career readiness program for young people ages 14–24. YA WORC uses a strengths-based perspective with a focus on connecting young people to meaningful careers and preparing them for economic self-sufficiency by helping them identify a career goal, plan a career path, and gain the skills and knowledge to move along their chosen path. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Workplace Center has adapted YA WORC to be delivered remotely as well as face-to-face. Current and recent YA WORC projects include:
- YA WORC for Young People in Foster Care: The Workplace Center, in partnership with the Division of Family Permanency Services (FPS) of the NYC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) is providing training and technical assistance to foster care agencies in New York City to implement YA WORC, and evaluating YA WORC’s impact. YA WORC has been implemented in over 12 foster care programs. Additionally, this effort has included a pilot sector-specific version of YA WORC for young people who are participating in a three-year digital literacy and coding program. YA WORC has also been implemented across NY State with the support of the NY State Office of Family and Children’s Services (OCFS), and the Professional Development Program, SUNY Albany.
- YA WORC for Young People with Juvenile Justice Involvement: In partnership with the NYC Division of Youth and Family Justice (DYFJ) of the NYC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) the Workplace Center is building the capacity across the juvenile justice continuum including prevention, detention, residential placement, and aftercare, to offer YA WORC services to young people with a special focus on older adolescents entering the system due to recent legislation raising the age of criminality to 18. Additionally, the Workplace Center has developed and is supporting implementation of, a guidance for the integration of career services into the overall service planning process that occurs during mandatory team meetings with young people, their caregivers, and service providers.
- YA WORC in NYC Schools: In partnership with the NYC Department of Education (DOE), the Workplace Center is implementing the YA WORC Career Readiness Curriculum within the NYC’s alternative school district, District 79 (D79). D79 programs, such as work/study programs and high school equivalency programs, are for students who may not fit into traditional school settings. Additionally, in partnership with Google, the Workplace Center has integrated career readiness focused Google Applied Digital Skills Lessons with the YA WORC Career Readiness Curriculum. The integrated curriculum provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary for success in the world of work along with the digital skills needed for the 21st-century workplace.
- YA WORC for Young Adults with Serious Persistent Mental Health Conditions: The Workplace Center is supporting the staff of NYC Adolescent Skills Centers of NYC’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to offer career development and employment support to young adults through YA WORC. The Workplace Center has also partnered with the NYS Office of Mental Health to build the capacity of New York, New York III Supportive Housing staff to support the career preparation of their younger residents.
- YA WORC Practice Standards: Based on current evidence and implementation experience, the Workplace Center has developed practice standards for the implementation of a comprehensive evidence-informed, developmentally appropriate career readiness program.
Supporting the Role of Birth/Foster Parents
Caregivers play a vital role in the career development of their children but they often lack an understanding of their influence or do not know how to offer support in this critical area of development. The Workplace Center developed a curriculum for caregivers that provides an understanding of the importance of caregivers’ role in the career development of their children, reviews the implications of juvenile justice involvement on career development, and suggests simple strategies for caregivers that support their children’s career aspirations. The Workplace Center trained staff in non-secure placement sites and in the Division of Youth and Family Justice/NYC Administration for Children’s Services on how to deliver the curriculum to caregivers and evaluated the impact on caregiver attitudes and behavior.
The Workplace Center developed a comprehensive sector-specific career assessment to be utilized within the MediaMKRS program. MediaMKRS is a program developed in partnership with the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME), City University of New York (CUNY), and Reel Works. The program trains, prepares, and provides credentials to young people for technical careers in NYC’s television and film production industries.
Community Supervision and Career Readiness Services
The Workplace Center conducted interviews with representatives from a national, representative sample of probation and juvenile justice programs from large urban jurisdictions. Interviews provided information on current career services provided to young people under community supervision. The Workplace Center is currently drafting findings and recommendations for career readiness services for young people under community supervision.
The Workplace Center, in partnership with the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families, and Rhode Island College School of Social Work, joined providers and other researchers in Rhode Island as part of an Administration for Children & Families/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services funded project to develop services that build relational competencies, self-efficacy, and empowerment among young people transitioning out of foster care to the adult world of work and to evaluate the impact of the services on educational and vocational outcomes. This project was awarded the 2018 Innovations in American Government Award by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.
Strategies to Promote the Transition to Work for Youth from Foster Care Los Angeles World of Work Curriculum
The Workplace Center, in partnership with the LA TAY Collaborative, developed and assessed the effectiveness of a career readiness curriculum developed to prepare young people transitioning from foster care to the world of work and supported foster care agencies throughout LA County in its implementation. Currently, the curriculum is being offered in over 40 programs in LA County as well as attended by over 10,000 young people annually through their federally funded (WIOA) youth centers.
Career Development and Employment Support for Youth Served by the Child Welfare System
This project partnered with three child welfare jurisdictions (Baltimore, New York City, and Rhode Island) to promote the uptake of performance standards informed by the most current evidence base related to career development for young people in foster care and evaluated the effectiveness of strategies to build the capacity within the foster care workforce to support young people in career development and employment.
Employer-Based Career Mentoring Programs
The Workplace Center joined New Yorkers for Children to explore the feasibility of implementing an employer-based career mentoring program in New York City designed specifically for young people in foster care, or alumni of care. Based on a review of the current research and practice literature, and interviews with key stakeholders, recommendations were offered for the development of a program and a plan for its implementation.
Allied Healthcare Training Initiative
This project evaluated a sector-based employment initiative that connects out-of-school/out-of-work young adults in the South Bronx to jobs in the health care sector. Key to the evaluation was to understand specific types of supports that were most needed and useful in assisting young adults in maintaining connections to education and work.
Peer Providers in Social Service Agencies: Creating Work Settings for Mutual Support
Several Workplace Center projects set in place, and evaluated the effectiveness of, evidence-based strategies that promote the employment of peer providers on treatment teams in mental health agencies. Peers are defined as people with mental health conditions who are without professional credentials but have experience with the mental health system.
Addressing Poverty through Social Work Practice
The purpose of this project was to expand the capacity of the social work profession to include economic well-being as an essential part of a holistic response to issues caused by poverty. In partnership with the Council on Social Work Education, the Center drafted a resource guide to help educational programs integrate this approach into a generalist practice.
Workplace Supports for Parents Who are Caregivers to Children with Asthma
This study explored the impact and feasibility of formal workplace supports to help manage the conflicting demands that arise when working parents simultaneously try to maintain employment and care for their children with asthma. Unattended, these conflicts can undermine parents’ well-being and the effectiveness of the care they provide to their children.