Programs & Services for Justice-Involved WomeN
Vermont Works for Women (VWW) provides a continuum of employment and career services for women who have a history with or are currently involved with the justice system.
Since 2001, VWW has held a contract with the Vermont Department of Corrections (DOC) to provide transitional support services and employment assistance to women incarcerated at Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility (CRCF) to support their successful reentry into the community and find employment post-release.
We bring a gender and trauma-responsive approach and provide individualized career coaching. In 2021, VWW served 78 women in-facility and 22 with re-entry services after their release.
VWW staff leads group trainings around building executive functions – interpersonal skills, conflict resolution, planning and prioritizing, time management - and making SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based) goals.
We also invite female and gender-expansive professionals from the community to visit the facility to discuss their career fields, providing the women with an opportunity to learn more about employment options in Vermont. Presenters often share their personal journeys to careers, highlighting techniques they used to overcome challenges along the way. VWW offers this programming to inspire and encourage women to consider varied career paths and to grow appreciation for the transformative value of work.
VWW staff also provide one-on-one coaching. Coaching sessions can be exploratory if the client is unsure of what they want to do for a job and/or if they experience specific barriers to gaining employment. Skill development includes looking for jobs/attending job fairs, writing and submitting resumes and cover letters, and interviewing for a job.
tRAINING AND WORK EXPERIENCE
In September 2021 VWW started a new culinary training program, combining hands-on skills with classroom curriculum. During the new 12-week pilot course, trainees focus on learning basic skills in institutional style cooking, to prepare them to work in health centers, college campuses and other high-volume cafeterias. The women are very excited to participate and gain the skills to work in the culinary industry and expand their employment opportunities following their release. Two participants completed the training and graduated, and another cohort is expected to graduate in June.
VWW assists in overseeing the facility work program and launched Windows to Work. Women in custody can apply for facility jobs to gain on-the-job experience, improve professional skills and gain employment references to increase post-release employment opportunities. Participants are trained in diverse positions throughout the facility, receive regular performance evaluations and attend professional development classes addressing behaviors and attitudes that jeopardize success and advancement in the workplace.
Career Resource and re-entry center (CRRC)
The Career Resource and Re-entry Center is a new collaboration lead by VWW and CRCF to integrate the career and employment services to women in custody. In addition to VWW facilitating classes, activities and individual services, Voc-Rehab and Community High School of VT also deliver services in the CRRC.
If a client is soon to be released from CRCF, VWW staff will focus on developing a concrete step-by-step plan for their return into the community. The plan is targeted for each client based on their specific needs, release locations, any barriers they may have, and career goals. Clients can then use their individual plans to help them integrate into their community and find employment. VWW assists women with securing clothing, personal hygiene supplies, cellphone with monthly service, and more. We ensure our clients are aware of available community resources and services and understand how to access them.
An important aspect of supporting justice-involved women is providing education about open hiring practices. Open hiring improves access to employment by removing screening practices for certain positions. VWW joins partners at webinars and workshops to expand awareness and present on best practices for opening hiring policies and the associated benefits to both employers and employees. VWW strives to expand the value of lived experiences and the transferable skills gained that translate into success in the workplace.
From Our Women
People that have been through what we've been through and can still succeed after this. We can still rise.
Incarcerated Individual, Enrichment Night
Thank you so much, out of everything I needed this. I have been close to giving up and I have hope now!
Incarcerated Individual, Enrichment Night