02/24/04 — DSS seeks grant for Strive program

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DSS seeks grant for Strive program

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on February 24, 2004 1:57 PM

Wayne County Social Services is applying for a $200,000 grant to help parents who don't pay child support find jobs and keep them.

Social Services officials are optimistic that the Strive employment program could make some of the absent parents more employable.

"So many of the people we work with don't have to get up at a certain time. They don't have to be anywhere at a certain time," Social Services Director Judy Pelt told the DSS board Monday.

Strive, a New York-based nonprofit organization, emphasizes job-seeking skills and job readiness, including workplace behavior, appearance and attitude. It has had extraordinary success in other locations in training people for jobs, she added.

The program would also give judges another sentencing option when dealing with parents who cannot make child support payments.

"It's something else we can do besides send people to jail," said Mary Worrell, supervisor in child support enforcement.

Mrs. Pelt first heard about Strive from another Social Services director, who lent her a videotape of a "60 Minutes" story. The CBS show profiled Strive in May 1997 and then did a follow-up in October 1999.

Strive is based on the idea that a positive attitude and good communication skills are a requisite for seeking and maintaining employment, according to information from a Baltimore, Md., program. Participants have to go through three weeks of "attitudinal training," which requires self-examination, critical thinking, relationship building, affirmation, learning and teaching with practical skill development.

The program tracks graduates for at least two years, trying to ensure they don't have relapses of behavior that would cost them their jobs.

Many other job-training programs are not as successful perhaps, because they don't do as much follow-up, Mrs. Pelt said.