Job Preparedness Classes in Limestone County The Alabama Cooperative Extension System in Limestone County has partnered with personnel with the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) to present programs to DHR clients to prepare them for employment. Key players in this effort include the County Extension Coordinator in Limestone County, Family and Consumer Sciences Regional Extension Agents, Personnel with Department of Human Resources, and local business and community leaders. Betty Ann Broman, County Extension Coordinator in Limestone County, serves as the ACES facilitator for the classes. The goal of this program is to provide job readiness and basic life skill knowledge that will enable DHR clients to seek and obtain gainful employment. By obtaining employment, they will be transitioned from public support to self-reliance. This means they will not only be better able to support their families, but also gain intangible positives of self-confidence and management skills. Furthermore, the roles they are modeling for their children will be that of earning wages through established employment. This should result in an improved probability for success of both the parent and child. One important aspect of the program is that clients are also given instruction to help prepare them for the transitions and challenges they will face as they enter the workforce The curriculum for this course was planned by staff of both ACES and DHR in Limestone County. It was started in 2006 and because of it’s success, continued into 2007. A number of agencies and private businesses are utilized for the program, which lasts 30-hours per week and is conducted one week per month. Topics covered in each monthly course include: parenting, transportation, educational opportunities, basic financial management, food & nutrition, preparing job applications, child care, personal hygiene, and housing options. Segments that also address issues concerning balancing work and home life are also included. Classes are broken into segments which typically last 1-1½ hours. Extension personnel who present portions of the classes are: Theresa Jones: Job Preparedness & Filling out Employment Applications Betty Ann Broman: Family Financial Management Shirley Whitten: Nutrition on a Shoestring Judy Edmond: Parenting Classes in 2007 were conducted in January, February, March, April, June, September, and November. Class size is small in order to provide optimum impact and greater opportunities for improvement. A total of nineteen clients completed classes during these sessions. Follow-up with these clients in December 2007 indicate that of these clients, twelve have secured employment, four are still looking for employment, and one has moved to another location, and one participant’s case has been closed. One participant is working with a special program with DHR, which will give her training and experience for future employment. Numerous DHR personnel have expressed repeated appreciation to the ACES staff. Margaret Shields, DHR Job Readiness counselor, made the following statement concerning ACES participation in the project: “We appreciate so much what ACES has done for our clients and agency through the Job Readiness Program. The ACES staff are the consummate professionals and are the group we try to schedule first every time we do a class. They have expertise which simply cannot be found in other places.” Caroline Page, the Limestone County Director for DHR has also expressed verbal appreciation repeatedly for the support and the success that has been achieved through the Job Readiness Classes. ACES and DHR have continued to build a sound relationship through this course. We have obtained positive results which could potentially have life-changing outcomes with clients. These community relationships will have long-term effects for not only the past participants, but for future clients as well.