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UC Workforce Connection Requests 100K From Cookeville For Specialists

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
UC Workforce Connection Requests 100K From Cookeville For Specialists

Upper Cumberland Workforce Connection wants $100,000 from the city of Cookeville to employ two workforce re-entry specialists.

Executive Director Becky Hull said the specialists would be tasked with helping people re-enter the workforce after being incarcerated. Specialists would work with individuals to get them employed. Hull said the specialists would also hold individuals accountable so they do not allow setbacks to curtail the search.

“I just want to be able to have the funding for the seed to start the program so that we can provide proof of concept here,” Hull said. “My ultimate goal is that the program works so well that we receive permanent funding.”

Hull said the program could then expand across the Upper Cumberland. Cookeville City Council heard a presentation on the program earlier this month and expressed interest in seeing if they could use opioid abatement money to assist the project.

The program started in Kentucky and has been so successful there, it has gained a position in the governor’s plan for dealing with drug rehabilitation.

Hull said the Putnam County Judicial System would refer individuals to the Workforce Board Re-entry Program staff for enrollment services. Once enrolled, specialists would connect individuals with community service organizations and offer employment-related assistance.

“They would be the connector for the employer, they’d be the connector for the parole officer, they would be the hub for everything this individual would need,” said Hull.

Tennessee’s recidivism rate has dropped below 30 percent, which is the lowest number in over a decade. Hull said that Putnam County’s rate is much higher but she’d like to see that number drop with the help of these specialists.

“We, as a community, have a choice,” Hull said. “We can either give them a hand up and work to help them be productive members of society, or we can continue to make them pay for a mistake they’ve made for the entirety of their life.”

Some 77 million Americans have some kind of criminal record.


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