Renovations underway on Career Resource Center at VT Women’s Prison
By Heather Newcomb, VWW Program Manager
Renovations have begun on a new career resource center at Vermont’s only prison for women, Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility (CRCF). Once the center is fully operational, all programming about career exploration, work-readiness, vocational trainings, and re-entry employment planning will be delivered in a single place.
Vermont Works for Women (VWW) will collaborate with VocRehab, the Community High School of VT, and other community partners to deliver programs that strengthen clients’ employability skills during incarceration and increase their employment prospects after release.
Clients will create a career portfolio that contains documents which reflect skills & strengths that clients possess, and provides a professional resource for them to discuss during an interview. The portfolio contents provide guidance and talking points for clients during job interviews regarding their transferable skills, industry certifications, professional resume and letters of recommendations the client has earned during their incarceration.
Also, VWW will bring back the monthly Enrichment Nights we led pre-pandemic, where professional women from the community would present at CRCF about their careers and the path they followed to succeed in that field. Attendees gain a glimpse of what it is like to work in a certain field and expand their perception of what careers are available to them after release. Many presenters also speak about obstacles they overcame as a woman in a specific field, especially in careers where women are underrepresented. After the career resource center renovations are complete, VWW will be able to host presenters from all across Vermont.
VWW is also developing a culinary training program within the facility that will teach basic culinary skills, deliver hands-on labs to practice & master skills, and support the facility’s meal production needs. This program not only teaches the critical skills to work and succeed in the culinary field, but also integrates on-the-job experience with the real-world application of meeting production needs in a working kitchen.
This program will provide industry recognized certifications in ServSafe and access to additional certifications if desired. The Chef instructor will also develop an industry advisory group to assist creating pipelines with employers statewide and consistent evaluation of program standards to stay current with industry changes.
The culinary and food service sector tends to have less restrictive hiring practices and provides many opportunities for advancement. Seeking a field that is open and accepting means a great deal to our clients, and they thrive working as part of a high functioning team which spreads into other areas of their lives.
Above all, we want the career resource center to be a place of discovery for women who are incarcerated. We want women to uncover their purpose, authentic selves, and the unique contributions that make them special!
At VWW, we have a saying “It’s not about any job, it’s about the right job.” Being clear about one’s employment needs and whether a position is aligned with their purpose or not is vital for a successful outcome.
We work with women to establish a detailed plan consisting of short term goals, long term goals and creating a network to help hold them accountable and support their progress. Finally, VWW helps women build faith in their abilities of resilience, perseverance and determination to persist with their goals.