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Chicago Commons ETC has partnered with individuals, families and communities to overcome poverty, discrimination and isolation. Commons creates programs that build self-sufficiency, strengthening individuals at key stages of their lives from child development to job preparedness. Commons selects neighborhoods where opportunities are fewest and obstacles greatest. Commons provides services through the settlement house, a principal location for program delivery. From the lessons learned, Commons advocates social change to benefit society.
PROGRAM DESCRIPTION The Chicago Commons West Humboldt Park Employment Training Center (ETC) began in 1991 as an inner-city program designed to assist women to achieve self-sufficiency through education and employment preparation, leading to job placement and job retention. Since its inception, and continuing today, ETC's focus on setf-sufficiency has meant providing a program where participants can obtain and retain jobs with-decent wages and benefits, allowing their families to stay off welfare rolls, and bringing wealth into the West Humboldt Park community area. To make this a reality, ETC works with a job retention focus from the outset with both the job seeker and the employer. Well in advance of actual job placement ETC works with the job seeker to: > Identify and manage the personal barriers to job retention that have kept them from remaining employed in the past (e.g., child care, transportation, housing, substance abuse, domestic violence) and put solutions in place > Assess current skill/literacy level, improve literacy and job skills, and develop a plan for further advancement > Identify career aptitudes and interests (based on Meyers Briggs assessment and industry exposure) and match with an appropriate employment opportunity > Strengthen parenting skills, and the families' ability to solve problems as a unit, through participation in structured child development activities - in recognition that children's success at school and at home is directly linked to parents' ability to succeed in the labor market. ETC also works to make the employer aware of resources available to aid in job retention, such as: > assistance in identifying skill gaps for specific employees and process for skill training > assistance in developing conflict resolution skills among co-workers ETC has been able to successfully implement this program by delivering services in following components: intensive case management, one-to-one counseling, substance abuse screening, off-site referrals where appropriate, 'monthly and weekly support groups, advocacy on behalf of clients to DHS, employers or other agencies, comprehensive assessment including evaluation of learning difficulties, a written participant service plan, career counseling, ESL, literacy, nurneracy and GED classes, occupational skills training, job readiness, job placement, job retention, on-the-job training, transitional employment support, career advancement services. Beginning September 2000, job seekers will also have access to a computerized career resource center to be established on-site. Over the last nine years, as ETC has developed a track record of success, this program has become a learning lab demonstrating best practices in the area of job retention, leadership and innovation for groups around the country. In actual program delivery, ETC partners with the city and state, and numerous agency partners, including National Lekotek (family literacy), Erie Family Health Center, Chicago Jobs Council, Hull House, and Chicago Manufacturing Institute. As of July 2000, Chicago Commons ETC has moved to a new building recently constructed by Chicago Commons Association within West Humboldt Park. This new building is one of the first new Settlement Houses in Chicago in decades. It has been enthusiastically welcomed by the community, and generously supported by Bank of America. ETC will share this building with Chicago Commons child welfare division, legal services as well as a community-based health clinic.
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