Bush Is Joined By Labor Secretary Chao, Attorney General John Ashcroft for Discussion on Job Training Programs for Ex-Offenders


From: Lisa Kruska of U.S. Department of Labor, 202-693-4676

WASHINGTON, June 18 -- Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao today participated in a roundtable discussion President George W. Bush held at the White House to discuss private and federal efforts to reduce recidivism and improve employment outcomes for ex-offenders. The Secretary presented plans for the Labor Department's Ready4Work Initiative. Also joining the President's discussion were Attorney General John Ashcroft; Charles Colson, founder and chairman of the board of Prison Fellowship Ministries; and Dr. Byron Johnson, director of the Center for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ready4Work is a $22.5 million re-entry workforce development initiative of the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration and Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (CFBCI). Through DOL's grantee, Public/Private Ventures, and national non-profit partners -- Prison Fellowship Ministries, the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice, and the National Jobs Partnership -- Ready4Work mobilizes local coalitions to work together for sustainable ex-offender re-entry, and to improve outcomes for ex-offenders and the communities in which they live. The project is also supported through a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency.

"Over a year ago, the Department of Labor's Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives began a conversation with inner-city pastors, community leaders, and employers. One of the key challenges to successful transitions for people with criminal records, we learned, was the lack of access to employment," said Chao. "Gainful employment is a turning point for all people. But this is particularly true for those who are seeking a fresh start in life. Ready4Work is good for, families, communities, and employers. And it offers us a real chance to break the cycle of crime and recidivism that plagues so many communities."

Chao was joined at this event by Pastor Garland Scott of City Center Ministries and Kevin Gay of Operation New Hope, who together lead Ready4Work in Jacksonville, Fla., the pilot site for the initiative. "The Department of Labor's Ready4Work program has already proven successful in a pilot program in Jacksonville. We have seen first-hand how faith-based and community-based programs can fundamentally change the course of hearts and lives," said Jim Towey, director of the White House Office on Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

Ready4Work builds on a community's strengths -- business leaders, faith-based and community non-profit organizations (FBCOs), corrections, parole and probation officials, workforce investment boards, and committed volunteer mentors -- to train and employ job-ready ex-offenders, reduce recidivism, leverage community resources to provide long-term support, and capture and share promising practices with expansion sites across the nation. When fully implemented, Ready4Work will operate in 15 to 18 cities across the nation. Public/Private ventures will manage the national implementation strategy.

The Department of Labor is one of seven federal cabinet agencies with a Faith-Based and Community Initiative Center.


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This article comes from Science Blog. Copyright 2004