Reentry Employment Services
Regional businesses are facing one of the most challenging hiring markets in decades. With unemployment in the region at historic lows, finding quality employees is difficult. As the massive baby boomer generation has been retiring and fewer skilled workers are available to replace them, companies are face a labor shortage of dramatic proportions, which makes finding innovative sources of employees important. The term “reentry” describes individuals returning to the community from jail or prison. Employment has been proven to substantially reduce the risk of reoffending; however, many former offenders struggle with a lack of adequate education and job skills that employers demand.
To help citizens overcome barriers and successfully reenter the community, as well as to provide innovative sources of talent for employers, Employ Milwaukee partners with the State of Wisconsin, local government, public and private employment and training providers, and community- and faith-based organizations to provide employment services to justice involved individuals; incarcerated in jails and prisons and/or within the community on supervision. Employment services are provided pre- and post-release, including career planning (access to the Job Center of Wisconsin, resume building, job searching, skill assessments, etc.), skill training, and supportive service referrals. County and statewide, Employ Milwaukee serves as a resource conduit for walk-ins of justice involved individuals and/or families to direct them to the appropriate services within and/or outside of Employ Milwaukee.
In incorporating its internal agency vision of Impact, Relevance, Innovation, Opportunity, and Customer Service/Experience into its programming and strategies, Employ Milwaukee is determined on breaking down the barriers to foster changing of lives with the emphasis on a varied approach of changing the culture of justice involved individuals, their families, and the community. Employ Milwaukee addresses collaborative and evidence-based strategies that promote a greater likelihood of success after release to the community and provides effective interventions to enhance public safety, increase employment, and reduce recidivism. From a workforce development standpoint with the reentry sphere, Employ Milwaukee is intentionally at the forefront of offering advanced thought leadership while discussing collaboration/innovation and diversified funding strategies to ensure effective cross system intersections to cultivate wholistic systematic improvement.
Windows to Work Reentry Services with the Department of Corrections (DOC)
Employ Milwaukee assists participants with their employment, housing, medical and psychological needs through Windows to Work, a Wisconsin Department of Corrections-funded program. Instruction in financial literacy, workplace competencies, conflict resolution and problem solving are provided through case managers who plan for successful reintegration with participants. Assessments and supports begin six months prior to prison release, with twelve months of follow up and supportive services after reintegration into the community. In addition, Windows to Work provides all program aspects of the post-release portion to a selected amount of transferring participants for those returning back to Milwaukee County in coordination with various workforce board areas across the state.
Reentry Employment Services at the House of Correction (HOC)
Employ Milwaukee provides pre- and post-release services to individuals who will be released within 180 days from the Milwaukee County House of Correction (HOC). This program provides career planning, job readiness and skills trainings, all centered around Labor Market Information, assessments of the individual, and an employment action plan. Referrals to American Job Centers are provided to participants, so that they may access WIOA programming to guide them through their transition immediately upon release.
Wisconsin Partnership Program
Employ Milwaukee received a Community Impact Grant from the Wisconsin Partnership Program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health to implement systemwide transformation improving the social determinants of health of criminal justice involved individuals, by reducing recidivism and increasing opportunities around economic stability among other sweeping benefits to the community. The intent is to improve the life outcomes and reduce recidivism of returning citizens by establishing a better coordinated reentry system. Exploratory research will be conducted with justice involved individuals to gain information about reentry services and how to develop an efficient continuity of care service model for those engaged in the system included systematic structures.
Reentry Employment Services at the Milwaukee Women’s Correctional Center
Within the American Job Center at the Milwaukee Women’s Correctional Center, Employ Milwaukee provides pre-release employment services to individuals who will be released within 90-180 days from the center.
System Involvement Efforts
Milwaukee Reentry Network
Employ Milwaukee co-chairs and participates within the Milwaukee Reentry Network (MRN) which is a collaborative of partners that plan and coordinate integrated neighborhood-based diversion, reentry, and employment strategies. The MRN works to provide opportunities to reduce criminal thinking and increase healthy family relationships for adults returning from county, state, federal correctional facilities, youth returning from juvenile justice facilities and adults and youth on county, state, and/or federal supervision living in Milwaukee County.
Milwaukee Reentry Council
Employ Milwaukee participates within the Milwaukee Reentry Council, a subcommittee of the Milwaukee Community Justice Council, which is focused on promoting the safe and successful reintegration of individuals who have been incarcerated back into the community and preventing future involvement with the justice system.
Council on Offender Reentry
Employ Milwaukee participates in the Department of Corrections (DOC) Council on Offender Reentry which promotes successful offender reentry and recidivism reduction initiatives. The Council on Offender Reentry is dedicated to coordinating reentry initiatives across the Sate of Wisconsin and providing a public forum for the various stakeholders of the Criminal Justice System.