Bridgeport-based employment agency The WorkPlace has received a $3.43 million federal grant as part of the four-year “Strengthening Working Families Initiative” (SWFI), aimed at helping parents with child care concerns advance their careers.
“Serving the whole person has been fundamental to our service strategy for many years,” said WorkPlace President and CEO Joseph Carbone. “Family responsibilities, especially child care challenges, have prevented so many of our customers from achieving success with career and education advancement. So we are especially thrilled to have an opportunity to close that gap and give our customers a pathway to good wages and increased opportunities.”
Carbone said his organization proposed a holistic service model similar to the one it created five years ago in the health care space; “Strengthening Working Families” will also focus in that area, targeting nursing, radiology, pharmacy technology, medical records, nursing assistants, and dental assistants.
The new initiative will allow The WorkPlace to provide transportation, child care costs and other support for participants, as well as for WorkPlace staff to oversee the program.
The program will be co-located with The WorkPlace’s American Job Center, “and we expect to serve 600 parents with dependents under the age of 13,” Carbone expanded. “A full-time ‘Child Care Concierge’ will manage the client interaction aspect of the project.”
All told, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded approximately $54 million in grants to 14 partnerships representing about 7,900 participants around the county as part of the SWFI, designed to help low- to middle-skilled parents access the affordable, quality child care they need to earn an education, participate in training programs and ultimately compete for better-paying jobs in emerging industries.
“Caring for children and being responsible parents should not be obstacles for working families seeking to compete for better-paying jobs,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “The grants we’re awarding today will help more working parents find affordable, high-quality child care while training for the jobs of today and tomorrow.”