How workforce development can provide childcare and housing support

The Be Essential campaign at Tallahassee Community College not only provides workforce development training, but offers supports that address the ‘whole person’

Tallahassee Community College in Florida recently created a campuswide program that connects people in the community who lost their jobs during the pandemic with employment opportunities, workforce development training and other services, including childcare, healthcare, abuse and housing support.

“We wanted to create a model that looks at the whole person and addresses their needs,” says Kimberly A. Moore, vice president of the Be Essential Campaign. “Once a path has been determined, we are not only providing that service, but staying with that individual as they pursue training or employment.”

The community college community support program also continues monitoring these individuals 180 days after the completion of Be Essential to ensure they are on their feet. “It’s more of a relationship than a transactional or single service,” says Moore, who is also vice president of workforce innovation.

Getting whole campus involved

The Be Essential campaign was built upon an earlier program that Moore also manages called TCC2WORK, which provides more than 70 job-training programs for students. Creating Be Essential took the community college three weeks, which included forming community partnerships and creating an intricate internal process that guides individuals through the program. “We had to assess our employees across every department to see who could help and who might require cross-training to make sure this would be a collegewide initiative,” says Moore.

Essentially, members of the community call one number that connects them to community college community support staff who then redirect them to various departments depending on what they need. Callers are redirected to the career center if they need assistance with job searches, resume writing or job referrals. If callers need a referral, they are transferred to a student affairs case manager who has the right relationships with businesses and community organizations. For workforce development training, callers are redirected to various faculty and staff including deans who enroll them in courses, many of which are free. Finally, callers are assigned a staff member who follows their progress throughout and after the program.

“When you are faced with all of these hurdles presented by the pandemic, the last thing you want is to be sent to five different doors,” says Moore. “Our focus was to make this process into a one-stop shop for meeting the needs of the community.”

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