By Ron VandenBoom
A lot of new terms will soon be heard floating around the Havre area as local agencies work to provide one-stop aid to people seeking employment and/or related assistance.
Terms such as "no wrong door," "Havre Area Work Force System," and "Job Link," will be common, said Pam Harada, manager of the Havre Job Service and Tom Bolan, executive director of District IV HRDC.
Harada and Bolan addressed a meeting of the North Central Montana Pachyderm Club Friday to explain what is meant by Montana Job Link.
"There's not going to be a runaround," Harada said about the new program. "Every door you enter, even if it isn't exactly the right door, will be able to get you the assistance you need."
Harada explained that do to a work force and labor training bill, known as the Workforce Adjustment Act, Montana has received a grant from the Federal Government to coordinate the activities of a variety of different agencies that up to now have operated independently of one another. The act will formalize coordination between these agencies into a one-stop work force system.
The new system, or Job Link, as it will be known, will be composed of about 9 area agencies including District IV HRDC, Montana Vocational Rehabilitation, Green Thumb, Job Corps, Project Challenge, Small Business Development Center, Rural Employment Opportunities, Inc. Office of Public Assistance, and the Havre Job Service Workforce Center.
Many of these agencies offer a variety of services ranging from the Food Stamp Program, Medicaid, and FAIM program from the Office of Public Assistance, to Northern Montana Head Start, Housing Assistance, and the Domestic Abuse Program from HRDC.
The idea behind a one-stop work force system is to eliminate duplication of effort on the part of many agencies and insure that every agency, no matter what its specific function, provides the best and most efficient customer service possible. Agencies will know what programs exist and how best to utilize them.
The program is not just an employment plan, even though employment is the ultimate goal.
The program takes into account that many entering the job market have needs that are barriers to employment. Child care, lack of housing, and a lack of quality job training are just a few examples of needs people looking for work might have. The goal is to meet all of the client's needs by effectively utilizing the services that remove barriers to employment.
Making the agencies more effective in answering client's questions and avoiding clients being shuffled from one agency to another where they answer the same questions, and fill out duplicate applications only to find they are at the wrong place or need more help than that agency provides, is central to the program's goal.
"It is to assure that there is really no wrong door for the client," Harada said.
A CMT (Community Management Team) consisting of representatives from each of the agencies has been created to oversee the implementation of the program. Harada was elected chairwoman of the committee and Bolan vice chairman.
The CMT works by consensus, Harada said, and has already started work improving agency networking within a several county area.
Bolen described the program as an attempt to ensure that clients have a "maximum opportunity to access meaningful employment and have the skills to be a good employee."
Bolen told the Pachyderms that the rural economy of the Havre area offers particular challenges to job seekers and employers and that CMT is "really trying to design a system that is responsive to all local needs."
The Havre Area Work force System will be having an open house on Thursday, May 3, from noon to 4 p.m.
The open house will start at noon at the Havre Job Service with a light lunch. All agencies connected to the Work Force System and Job Link, including the Adult Learning Center at Robin's School, HRDC, and the Courthouse Annex will also be open to the public and offer cookies and coffee.
"It's an opportunity for the general public to come see what we're doing," Bolen said. "Specifically to see what we're doing to help people gain employment."