Law enforcement, judges, area employers and service providers met recently to discuss a pilot project in the works targeting local youth in the court system.
The Lunch-N-Lunch, organized by Workforce Development Board 83, was held at the Cotton Museum in Lake Providence in September to bring awareness to the newly constructed program, the Alternative to Prosecution Project (APP). The goal of the program is to promote the effective use of the resources available in the community to fight the problem of drug and alcohol addiction, and to divert sentencing and create sustainable employment for participants.
"We are delighted for the opportunity to partner with 6th Judicial Court Judge Laurie Brister and the Delta Recovery Program to launch a new initiative in East Carroll Parish that will help put people to work while building a stronger community," Workforce Development Board 83 executive director Terri Mitchell said.
The project is designed to give judges, district attorneys and sheriffs an alternative for youth (16 -24 y/o) they feel could benefit from a highly structured program which follows the youth down a career pathway beginning with a high school equivalency diploma, if not already a high school graduate.
While attending basic skills/adult education class provided by Louisiana Delta Community College’s DeltaLINC program for 12 hours a week, the young adult will be required to participate in a Work Experience activity. Work Experience is a WIOA-paid 12-week activity that places the participant in the world of work. In some cases, it could take multiple 12-week Work Experience placements before the youth is skillful enough to gain unsubsidized employment or to enter an occupational skills training program, which is the project’s goal. While in the Work Experience activity, young adults are paid entry-level wages for the job they are performing. With this activity being no cost to employers, WDB83 has many employers who have already used this program with a successful number resulting in full-time, unsubsidized employment.
Other opportunities for monetary benefits could include stipends and incentives. When working with a judge who orders this program, a district attorney who demands it prior to sentencing or a sheriff who feels charges for a crime are not warranted if the participant completes this alternative program, many young people can be diverted from a permanent criminal record and/or have an opportunity to change their future. The agency that refers a youth will receive a monthly progress report, while the young adult is receiving another layer of support and guidance to becoming a contributing member of society.
"The “Lunch-N-Learn” was a true collaborative effort to provide local businesses and industry, as well as community support partners with the basic framework of the program and its potential impact on the parish," Mitchell said. "By utilizing all of our resources, the project partners believe we can develop a model program in East Carroll for economic growth that can be duplicated across the state."
For more information about the project or any other of WDB83's many programs available to local residents visit the East Carroll Business & Career Solution Center at 409 2nd Street, Monday through Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or call LaTisa Keys at 559-1618. You can learn more at WDB83.com