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Public, private collaboration leads to creation of work program at AJATC

Date: 10/24/2017

The Division of Youth Services (DYS) by way of the Arkansas Juvenile Assessment and Treatment Center (AJATC) has implemented a program that teaches youth the importance of responsibility and having a good work ethic.     

In cooperation with Goodwill Industries of Arkansas and Arkansas Rehabilitation Services (ARS), AJATC – operated by Rite of Passage (ROP) – is providing students with on-campus employment opportunities via a special work program.

The work program began in August and offers opportunities in gardening, janitorial, clerical work, culinary arts, maintenance, and various other duties made available by AJATC staff.

There are 10 students in the first program, all of whom are at least 16 years of age and have a developmental disability.

“This program paves the way for our students to transition back into their home environment with employable skills,” said DYS Vocational Manager Antoinette Thomas. “They receive an idea of what it takes to report to a job punctually and arrive immediately prepared to work. They’re also learning invaluable life skills by participating in this program.

“Most of all, when these students transition out of DYS they can potentially maintain their status with Goodwill. They can already have a job when they’re released. This is a huge opportunity for the participants.”

Goodwill representatives are excited to work with DYS students.

“This program is about preparing these young men for employment once they depart AJATC. We are pre-employment specialists at Goodwill,” said Goodwill Job Coach and Air Force veteran Vivian Bolden.  “Therefore, we are going to teach them how to fill out applications and how to interview (for a job). We’re also teaching them about attitude, motivation and how to interact with others.

“Basically, we want them to know how to fit into society without going through any of the previous ordeals they’ve already had in their lives.”

This work-program also showcases the importance of public and private entities working together to provide an innovative service.

“Arkansas Rehabilitation Services and Goodwill approached ROP about using a restoration grant to help provide opportunities for youth that will help them gain employment and an understanding of the real world,” Morrow said. “We agreed to it. Everyone is excited about this. It’s the first program of its kind offered at this secured facility.”

“We’re working to provide other job opportunities,” said AJATC Program Director Marlon Morrow. “Everything is basic level, but the students are paid for the services.

“Our ultimate goal is to expose the students to the normalcy of society as much as we can,” Morrow said. “What we’re aiming for is that they acquire various skills that will help with their overall transition.”

 

Cutline: In the photo above, students who are part of the AJATC Work Program, wash a window at the Alexander facility.

Arkansas Department
of Human Services
(501) 682-1001

TTY: 1-800-285-1131 or dial 711 for Arkansas Relay Service

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