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  • Tapping into a Viable Workforce, Pathways Home 2 Program

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    November 09, 2022

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Tapping into a Viable Workforce; Supports available for building your Community’s Labor Force through Second Chance Hiring

    It is estimated that 1 in 3 Americans have a criminal record. That is 70 million people. With the competitive job market and shrinking labor pool in Northwest Wisconsin, formerly incarcerated individuals are a viable workforce option for employers. For individuals with a criminal history, the national unemployment rate is 27% - leaving a large portion of a potential workforce untapped. Second chance hiring is when an employer hires an individual with a criminal past. A recent 2021 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) report found that 85% of HR professionals felt that employees with criminal records performed the same or better than those without that history.

    In Northwest Wisconsin, the Pathways Home 2 program works to lower recidivism by reducing barriers individuals face with employment after incarceration. Pathways Home 2 is designed for incarcerated individuals who are 18 years or older and who have 20 to 180 days left to serve on their sentence. Incarceration for this program is defined as home incarceration, jail, and Huber. This opportunity helps individuals returning to Northwest Wisconsin in enhancing their job skills and receiving assistance to transition back into the community.
    Active County Jails in the project include Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Price, Rusk, and Sawyer Counties. The program would like to expand to additional county jails and encourage any interested county to reach out to join in the program.

    Those who are eligible and enrolled in the program receive guidance on developing an employment plan, which includes a focus on career exploration and job preparation, and will meet monthly with a career coach to provide accountability and support. Through the employment plan, the career coach teaches soft skills to assist with the reintegration into the workforce and society. Part of this employment plan includes referrals for legal assistance, if applicable, connections to social services, occupational training, and housing and food support agencies.

    “Benefits that I’ve witnessed from the Pathways Home 2 program are that inmates are more prepared to transition into a structured life when they are released,” said Becky Barry, Program Director for the Sawyer County Criminal Justice Program. “In our region, affordable housing, transportation, and sustainable jobs that are available for people with criminal backgrounds, and more specifically that pay a living wage are difficult to establish. Pathways Home works with individuals to gain knowledge and confidence to create a foundation for a positive beginning. The people that we work with often lack confidence and witnessing them evolve is priceless.”

    Together, through a 12-month period after release, the individual will work with the career coach on executing their employment plan to find employment or to pursue job training. Post-release participants have access to other resources through the program, including financial assistance to alleviate potential barriers with transportation, clothing and tools needed for employment, rent, and other supportive services. Funding is also available for short term training, such as welding, construction, CDL, and more.

    “I feel as though the Pathways Home 2 program gives the inmates a great stepping stone when they are being released from custody,” said Melissa Staege, from the Burnett County Sheriff’s Office and Burnett County Jail. “I think the inmates genuinely enjoyed working with this program. I would tell any institution that this program can really be beneficial for those who work it! I feel as though Pathways Home is a great bonus when it comes to programming.”

    The Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board (NWWIB) is one of four workforce development boards in Wisconsin to receive funds through the Wisconsin Pathways Home 2 Grant award to the Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board. The Wisconsin Pathways Home 2 Grant is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor through their Re-entry Project grants to provide workforce services to incarcerated individuals prior to release from a correctional facility to assist incarcerated individuals transitioning back into their community.

    For more information about the Pathways Home 2 program, please contact Matthew Filipek, Pathways Home 2 Re-Entry Career Coach, at 715-209-8410 or mfilipek@nwwib.com.
    # # #
    The NWWIB is one of eleven workforce development boards in the state of Wisconsin and is one of over 500 Workforce Boards in the U.S. The NWWIB is responsible for the oversight of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and other training and employment initiatives in northwest Wisconsin, including the counties of Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Price, Iron, Rusk, Sawyer, Taylor, and Washburn. Through an extensive network of American Job Center partners, Northwest Wisconsin residents, businesses, and communities receive support to help local economies thrive.
    Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board is an equal opportunity employer and service provider. If you have a disability and need assistance with this information, please call us through Wisconsin Relay Service (7-1-1) or at 800-947-3529. To request information in an alternate format, including language assistance or translation of the information, please contact us at (715)-685-1425.
    Melissa Rabska, Director of Operations & Communications
    mrabska@nwwib.com, 715-292-1550

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