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Why Working with Community Based Partners is Effective When Serving Young Adults

Terri Kaufman - Workforce Development Specialist ·

Local Workforce Development Boards (LWDBs) face challenges on how to serve the youth in their region with limited WIOA youth resources. It is estimated that over 5.5 million youth (16 to 24 years old) now referred as ”Young Adults” do not have high school diplomas and are not employed. Additionally, these young adults are often dealing with other barriers such as language mastery, lack of or insufficient housing, substance abuse, health problems, transportation challenges and other cultural/social issues.

Networking with Community Based Organizations (CBOs), LWDBs can better serve young adults by connecting them to regional partners who can provide these critical services. CBOs often include faith-based organizations, schools, literacy councils, healthcare agencies, social service groups and regional governmental services. Working with CBOs will broaden the service portfolio available in American Job Centers (AJCs). Young adults will gain access to critical services needed to address barriers that limit their success in education attainment and employment. CBOs will also benefit from having access to all the employment and training services available in the AJCs.

AJCs can help young adults succeed by implementing WIOA’s principle of universal access, integration of services and customer-centered services which are customized to individual needs. By working with CBOs, under the guidance of career navigators, young adults will have access to critical services such as healthcare, housing, counseling and family services. Additionally, CBOs can assist in skill development areas such as English proficiency, cultural competence, degrees, licensing and industry credentials.

Working with CBOs can also enhance outreach strategies to reach young adults, parents and local employers to gain an understanding of all services available to them in AJCs. More importantly, young adults will have access to services, including but not limited to, transportation, housing, healthcare, education and employment opportunities.

The next step is to look at what is currently available and start to build relationships with CBOs who can provide resources and services needed. Building partnerships that align resources enables local areas to identify service gaps, deliver additional services in new trainings opportunities, and enhance educational support and flexible supportive services. The goal is to provide young adults with a menu of services that will enable them meet educational attainment, exposure to career pathways and the development of skills needed to obtain meaningful employment.

It’s inspiring to see how young adults thrive with this type of customized, comprehensive, and caring support. To see the positive results for yourself, read our client JauWan’s story.

As your wheels start turning about new ways to engage and work with community based partners, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are your LWDBs aware of all the services available in the region?
  • Is there a directory of services and contracts?
  • Do all your partners in your AJC have access to this information?
  • Are representatives of CBOs active participants or members of the Youth Council?
  • How often is the directory reviewed and updated?

A broader community collaboration can create both new opportunities for youth and supportive engagement from adults, building a foundation of resiliency and positive outcomes.

If you are interested in learning more about Young Adult services, check out this blog about how to engage youth with WIOA funds.

To learn about more workforce development solutions, click here.