WIRED Final Products Memo
Facilitated Employment Program for Offenders (FEPO)
The product user will be community based private or non-profit organizations desiring to
implement job readiness programs targeting those with a criminal background. Additional users
could include corrections staff located inside prisons, jails, work release centers or half-way
houses, as well as probation and parole agents; workforce development/job service centers; faith-
based organizations; prison or urban ministries; or various government entities.
The target audience is those interested in reviewing and/or replicating WIRED Funded Offender
The outcome for using this product will vary based on the viewer’s needs, and will fall
into one of the following situations: program replication, program modification, or simply
utilizing resources or elements of the program.
Program replication or duplication can be accomplished quite easily due to the fact that
the “model” has a simplistic designis simple – find candidates, assess them, offer orientations
and enrollment into program, fill out paperwork, put a plan together to meet participant goals,
create job opportunities and placements, and follow up. The other elements of the program can
be pieced together based on an organization’s needs, resources, and community relationships.
FEPO will make available any needed documents or resources to assist others in replicating this
program in their area.
As was mentioned above, the FEPO model is a replicable modelrelatively simple. Any
aspect of it can be modified to suit a particular organization’s needs, resources, interest, and
Utilizing Resources or Key Elements of FEPO
There may be organizations or entities out there that do not wish to replicate or modify
FEPO, but rather, would be interested in utilizing key resources developed by FEPO staff. Again,
FEPO will make available any needed documents, resources, or information to assist others in
better serving those with a criminal background.
WIRED Final Products Report
PROGRAM CONTEXT, PURPOSE, AND FUNCTION
History and Context
In July and August of 2007, Kaiser Group, Inc. and WDI successfully facilitated a seven-
week case management and employment pilot for Huber inmates. During the pilot, intensive
one-on-one case management and business services were offered to assist Huber inmates with
job preparation skills and guided efforts to secure employment. Services included intensive case
management, resume and application completion, mock interviewing, job seeking skills and
facilitated connections with area employers. In summary, 75% of those who were offered case
management services became employed, and one-third of those individuals were still employed
one year later.
In an effort to continue this innovative approach, Kaiser Group, Inc. and WDI proposed a
one-year demonstration project designed to facilitate employment for the offender population
(FEPO). We proposed to continue the work with Huber inmates and to expand case management
and business services program to include anyone with a criminal background. By combining
intensive case management services such as one-on-one counseling, job preparedness
workshops, basic education and training opportunities with business services such as
individualized job marketing and development, employer linkages, and retention services, we
expected to see effective job placements and reduced recidivism rates.
Based on our research of similar programs throughout the state of Wisconsin, and from
experience in the Huber Pilot Program, our realistic industry targets were the manufacturing and
food service industry. Other industries such as hospitality would also be targeted. Our hope was
that through intensive case management and business services support, we could place customers
into employment and discuss the key elements that can move them up the career ladder. We
planned to capitalize on the career pathway model that Technical Colleges had already begun,
and intended to work closely with Waukesha County Technical College in an effort to get our
participants on the career ladder to gainful manufacturing jobs.
This workforce innovation targeted the offender population in Waukesha County. We
planned to have discussions and work with Ozaukee and Washington Counties to explore their
interest and capabilities in delivering this project. Our goal was to not only to assist the offender
population in Waukesha County but across the Southeastern Wisconsin region as well.
Waukesha County Huber Facility
In order to work effectively with the Huber population, orientation sessions would be
held at Huber following work search orientation meetings with the Huber correctional counselor.
At this session, the Case Manager would give a comprehensive overview of the facilitated
employment program. Interested inmates would receive an assessment/intake form to complete
and then enroll in the program.
Immediately following selection to the program, participants would work with a Case
Manager and later a Business Services Representative to develop an Individual Employability
Plan. They then would begin to acquire job readiness skills and employer connections.
Supportive service needs would be evaluated and referrals and linkages made in order to ensure
success. Participants securing employment would receive follow-up and retention services for a
one-year period. These services would include one-on-one reviews to discuss goals and
supportive services necessary for job retention. Employers would be encouraged to participate in
these reviews. The main goal would be for Huber inmates to secure employment within a 30-day
period and remain in Huber with work release privileges.
Waukesha County Jail
In an effort to work effectively with the Waukesha County Jail inmates, we determined
that an orientation session should be held approximately six months prior to the inmate’s release.
The orientation would allow attendees to sign up for workshops and case management services
designed to make a successful transition into Waukesha County communities. If already
assigned a probation/parole officer, the officer would be contacted to keep him/her informed of
the inmate’s involvement and progress during the pre and post-release program period.
Workshops would be conducted on a monthly basis with a focus on job readiness skills including
resume and job application preparation; interviewing skills; occupational interest assessments;
labor market information; job availability; and career path information. Inmates who
successfully participated in the workshops would be offered case management; business services
connections, and retention services for the purpose of securing and maintaining employment.
Department of Corrections – Probation and Parole
In an effort to work effectively with individuals who are on probation and parole, job
readiness workshops similar to those offered to the jail inmates would be offered. These
workshops would be conducted at the Department of Corrections, Pewaukee Road facility. Case
management and business services staff would work with the facility to support the
establishment of a Day Reporting Center, including providing a computer dedicated to job search
websites (i.e. State of Wisconsin JobNet).
Where appropriate, enrollment in the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) program would
be considered. Enrollment in this program could include funding for occupational training. We
also planned to avail all of the services of the Pewaukee Workforce Development Center to
participants when appropriate.
Employer Education, Recruitment, and Retention
In light of the projected tight labor market, the Business Services Representative would
educate employers on the benefits of expanding recruiting efforts to include ex-offenders.
Employers would receive information and education on tax incentives available (i.e. Work
Opportunity Tax Credit); the availability of free bonding services associated with hiring ex-
offenders; and the potential for on-the-job training wage subsidy incentives. Employment fairs
would be hosted at the Workforce Development Center to provide hiring managers and human
resources professionals the opportunity to interview a pool of participants who have participated
in an interview workshop offered in the program.
Peer-to-peer mentoring would be facilitated between businesses that actively and
successfully employ ex-offenders and businesses that have been reluctant to expand recruiting
efforts to this unique population. Other resource connections would be identified within the
community and offered to participants on an as-needed basis during the program to ensure job
attainment and retention. These resources could include obtaining work clothing; financial
literacy training and budgeting assistance; involvement in a child support program; childcare
assistance; housing (rent assistance, securing housing); ongoing AODA support; mental health
services; transportation assistance (bus passes, bikes, car purchase loan programs, driver’s
Partnering and Structure
In order to accomplish this workforce innovation, Kaiser Group, Inc. and WDI
coordinated efforts with the Department of Health and Human Services, Huber staff and
Corrections Officers, Waukesha County Sheriff and Jail staff, State of Wisconsin Department of
Corrections, Probation and Parole Officers, and Waukesha County Technical College.
Kaiser Group, Inc would be the lead agency responsible for ensuring that the goals
related to the WIRED Implementation Plan Goal Matrix are being accomplished and that the
“RSTI” Principles are clearly reflected in the project. Kaiser Group, Inc. would also maintain
and manage the program budget in an effort to accomplish the measurable outcomes set forth in
this demonstration project proposal. Kaiser Group, Inc. would provide the Case Manager
position (1 FTE). As the major partner in this project, WDI would be providing the necessary
collaboration and linkages with the employment community by providing a Business Services
Representative (1 FTE). This position would work in concert with the Case Manager to provide
seamless services to the offender population. WDI would also help to create the database system
for tracking successful outcomes of this project.
Both partners would share the responsibility for meeting, exceeding, and tracking
performance outcomes. WDI would help to create a database system for collecting important
outcome and performance information related to intake and enrollment numbers, employer
tracking, supportive services utilized, workshop participation, case management/customer
activities, job placement data, and retention/follow-up services.
In order to sustain and grow this project, we will seek continued financial support
through the Community Development Block Grant program, the Criminal Justice Collaborating
Council, as well as WIA program funding. We also hope to seek additional money through the
Department of Corrections and from competitive grants through the Department of Justice.
Our main goal in this project would be to offer case management and business services
support including any necessary wraparound services to meet other needs, in an effort to assist
those with a criminal background in finding gainful employment. To that end we determined
other supporting goals for this project, which included the following:
• find gainful employment, have their wages increase, and will remain employed or earn
• have their employers contacted approximately once each month to check progress and
• be referred and linked to area resources
• be connected to employment services
• acquire skills, training, and education in order to be more marketable in today’s
• acquire and/or improve soft skills
• recidivate less
• maintain stable housing or improve their housing situation
The program will be
The program will also
• find employers who will hire people with criminal records
• educate employers about the benefits of hiring people with criminal backgrounds
• connect those with a criminal background to potential employers
• facilitate employer/employee relationships
• place 100 participants in jobs
The key staff that will be working on this workforce innovation will be the Case Manager
and Business Services Representative who have yet to be hired. The project will also be
supported by the management infrastructure of both Kaiser Group, Inc. and Workforce
Development, Inc. (see attached resumes).
The Case Manager will be responsible for developing relationships with staff from the
Huber Facility, Waukesha County Jail, and Probation and Parole. The Case Manager’s roles and
responsibilities will include: Orientation sessions, intake and enrollment, employment
preparation workshops, employment placement, retention services, education and training
resource and referral, supportive service linkages, and intensive & ongoing case management.
The Business Services Representative will be responsible for making the necessary
employer linkages that will lead to successful hires for the offender population. The Business
Services Representative’s roles and responsibilities will include: Orientation sessions,
employment preparation workshops, employer tracking, retention services, job development, and
job marketing. The Case Manager and Business Services Representative will work together to
provide the necessary wraparound services that will lead to gainful employment for the offender
OFFENDER EMPLOYMENT SPECIALIST (OES) we call this the Case Manager previous to
this and now the “OES” I’m not familiar with this term but we have to be consistent in our use
of terminology, so you should mention it somewhere earlier.
The main role of the offender employment specialist would be to prepare those with a
criminal background to find work, to understand their criminal background and how it affected
their ability to become employed, and to ensure they had all the resources they needed to be
productive citizens. This preparation included orientation, enrollment, preparation of an
employability plan, coaching, and follow up.
• Introductions/orientations were given at multiple facilities such as Huber orientations,
group orientation meetings at WFDC and P&P, and at workshops at the jail.
• Local agencies were notified about FEPO through one-on-one contact, meetings, or
• Were given with an opportunity to either enroll at that time or set up a time to enroll later
• Included introduction of FEPO staff, and explanation of the program and how it worked,
benefits of enrollment, expectations, and length of involvement
• People were enrolled if they appeared to be motivated and willing to do whatever it takes
to improve and to find employment.
• Enrollment involved filling out paperwork and meeting with the OES for an intake, to set
goals, and get to work on implementing the goals.
• Enrollment paperwork included:
o Participant agreement
o WIRED SE WI Participant Form for WIRED-funded Employment and Training
o FEPO Assessment/Interview Form Supplement
o Consent and Release of Information (WOW, Inc.)
o General Release of Information (services and providers)
o Acknowledgement (WOW, Inc.)
o Additionally, participants were given the following as needed:
To Do List
Goal Setting Form
• Not all those that completed this step were formally enrolled. Only those that appeared to
be motivated and engaged were enrolled.
• This plan included
o Preparation of a resume, references, and cover letter
o Completion of a Letter of Explanation
o Ensuring the participant was ready for a job interview and necessary follow up
o Following up with referrals for supportive services to address other needs, such as
taking care of outstanding child support, acquiring economic assistance, or
planning to enroll in further education
o Strong encouragement to volunteer, network, and perform informational
o Attending workshops at the Workforce Development Center
Coaching mature workers (if appropriate)
Coaching and Follow Up
Participants were routinely coached and offered encouragement, support, and assistance
with handling issues related to finding employment, staying motivated, and overcoming
cognitive (and other) barriers in their lives. Additionally, job leads and job coaching advice was
e-mailed out to all participants on a near daily basis. Follow up was done at one-on-one
meetings with the OES, by phone, or through e-mail contact to ascertain the client’s status on a
Participants met with the OES as often as needed for coaching, guidance, information,
research, referrals, brain-storming, job leads, resume and LOE assistance, other intensive case
management, and homework assignments, etc. Frequency of contact varied based on participant
interest, need, and motivation.
Trainings and Workshops
Trainings in the form of workshops were provided to all program participants and to
anyone else in the area with a criminal background. Three trainings became the focus during this
Understanding Your Criminal Background and the Letter of Explanation
Resumes, References, and Cover Letters
Understanding Employer Expectations
These workshops were selected based on participant need and the fact that these workshops
were not offered elsewhere.
Understanding Your Criminal Background and the Letter of Explanation
This interactive workshop educated participants on their arrest and court records; how to
access them, read and understand them; how to communicate the information to a potential
employer; how to clean up these records where possible; and how to explain them in a positive
way to an employer. Additionally, it reviewed the importance of knowing what is on an FBI
report, accessing records from other states if needed, reviewing and cleaning up one’s credit
report, and driving records. Other issues covered were the concept of “substantially related”,
discrimination and what to do about it, and how to let go of the past. This workshop was offered
at the Waukesha County Huber Facility, the Waukesha County Jail, the Probation and Parole
Office, and the Workforce Development Center.
Resumes, References, and Cover Letters
Changes in the Workforce Development Center staff prompted changes to their
workshops offered. Once there was a dedicated class for this topic, but later was changed to a lab
setting. Whereas once those coming into the center could sit in a class and be taught by a
facilitator how to do these things, they now had to sit at a computer and be more self-directed.
This presented challenges for some of the FEPO participants.
This class utilized the power point presentation prepared by WCTC staff, along with
worksheets and examples to assist participants with completion of their own marketing packages.
Class was set up in a traditional fashion and attendees asked questions throughout the
presentation. Additionally, they had an opportunity to prepare pieces of their resumes and
receive feedback on them before they left class. Finally, they were informed they could e-mail
their paperwork to the OES for review and feedback.
Understanding Employer Expectations
Many FEPO participants had a limited work history and an understanding of how to be
successful in today’s job market. The BSR put together a power point presentation covering:
What employers expect from YOU
What YOU can expect from an employer
Once you secure the interview
Closing the interview
After the interview
You got an offer
Learning the Culture
Why you didn’t get the job…
Do not get discouraged
Participants were referred to the Business Services Representative (BSR) when
considered “job ready”. This meant the participant had completed a resume and letter of
explanation, knew what kind of work they wanted to do, had worked out their transportation
issues, knew how to look for work, interview, follow up, etc.
BUSINESS SERVICES REPRESENTATIVE
The Facilitated Employment Process for Offenders (FEPO) Business Services
Representative (BSR) worked closely with the FEPO Case Manager along with the Business
Services Team to assist the offender clients in their job search with the end goal being a job
The Business Services Representative (BSR) develops and maintains relationships with
local HR professionals or in smaller companies the hiring manager or person who wears the HR
hat. The goal of the FEPO BSR was to educate/inform employers about the FEPO program
through employer outreach, work closely with employers with job openings, work closely with
the client to match their skills/experiences with job openings and advocate for the offender job
seeker client with the end goal being a job placement.
Educate/Inform Employers about the Program through Employer Outreach
BSR Introduction Letter targeted to Waukesha area businesses on record in the BSU
contact database (ACT). This area was targeted because of the availability of bus transportation
and that they were within reasonable walking distance for many of our clients, including those
clients in Huber. Letters were sent and in-person meetings were generated. As the current
Business Services Unit (BSU) representatives found opportunities for FEPO program
introductions, the FEPO BSR was invited along on employer visits with the WIA BSR.
The FEPO BSR gave presentations on the FEPO program, handed out the FEPO
brochure, their business card, bonding and tax credit materials to employers at events held at
Workforce Development and also in the community. Some examples of this type of employer
outreach are: Workforce Development Employer Open House events, Employment Guide Job
Fair, Workforce Development Autumn Recruitment Fair, Project Return Dinner, and a
Manufacturing Conference at Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC).
The FEPO BSR along with a WIA BSR also targeted the Grandview, Silvernail and
Sunset retail areas by foot, personally dropping off a packet of information including: program
brochure, business card, Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), Bonding information and
upcoming employer events at Workforce Development. The FEPO BSR went into greater detail
if manager was available and had time to meet. Follow up meetings were arranged where
possible. Follow up calls were made after the visit. These retail areas were also targeted
because of the availability of transportation and reasonable walking distance for our FEPO
clients. From our partners in this grant and feedback from employer visits, it was also shared
that many of these retail establishments hire offenders.
Challenges at the local retailers
The hiring manager is not always on site, some require online applications, some retail
hiring is centralized (gas station in Waukesha, HR recruiter’s home base is in a different part of
the state, in town a couple random days per month), retailer had a bad experience with an
offender employee or the offender employee quit without notice (usually because they were
released from Huber & relocated to another city.)
Response to challenges
The following was implemented to respond to retailer concerns:
• Employer expectations presentation was developed by the BSR
• Employer feedback shared with the FEPO Case Manager (CM) on a daily/weekly basis
• Job seeker client progress shared with FEPO BSR on a daily/weekly basis
• FEPO BSR has better accessibility to online opportunities and would share these job
openings with FEPO job seeker clients.
• FEPO BSR was able to contact HR in a centralized system through established and new
• Employers were very positive about having the FEPO BSR as a business resource at
Workforce Development, especially if they had questions or problems with their new
offender hire. The employers also liked the 30, 60, 90 day follow up. There was also this
same follow up for the FEPO job seeker client as the BSR advocated & followed up with
Work closely with employers with job openings (not always posted due to economy)
The FEPO BSR worked closely with the WIA BSRs. Job openings are typically found in
local newspapers, business journals, Job Center of WI and other online postings. Based on the
recent economy, the number of postings in printed newspapers had decreased substantially. This
made it difficult for offenders without computer access to find job ads. Based on the
relationships the current WIA BSR team has built with local HR professionals, the WIA BSRs
would share job openings with the FEPO BSR. Some of these job openings had not been posted
yet. Employers have had good first response from the clients being served at Workforce
Development. Workforce is not a placement agency and may not be able to serve all their
recruitment needs, but would help the employer get some qualified candidates to start their
process and sometimes resulted in a hire/placement.
Challenge I’m not hip on these challenges but I do like the narrative in the “response to
challenges.” You could just incorporate this data without using “challenge and response”
Not all jobs are posted, especially in this economy where it is an employer job market.
Response to challenge
Constant Contact with the employers is done via phone, email, mailings and employer
events to maintain that relationship with employers and find out about their job openings for our
Work closely with the client to match skills/experiences of the clients with job openings
The FEPO BSR would search for open positions that the current FEPO caseload clients
would qualify for and follow up with via email or give to them as a part of their follow up
meeting. Employers expected the job seeker clients being sent to them or being advocated for to
be “job ready”. Job ready candidates are offender job seekers who are enrolled in program, have
a resume, have practiced answers to the ‘gap in employment’ question, are motivated to work
and understand employer expectations. The range of this expectation varies by the type of job,
amount of supervision available and the employer’s HR policies and procedures.
The FEPO staff wanted to assist as many offenders as possible to find jobs.
Response to Challenge
No matter how much a person wants to help another person find a job and even be
willing to use a favor with an employer, if they cannot represent themselves well at an interview
and/or do not have the skills required by the job, these efforts will not end up in a job.
Employers are in a position, especially in this economy, to “help someone out”, “do the right
thing” & take advantage of offered tax credits when the job seeker client is a fit for the skills &
experience needed and can communicate that at an interview.
Advocate for the offender job seeker client
Calls were made on behalf of the FEPO client prior to and after hire. Some of the FEPO
BSR services available were: calling an employer to find out more information on open posted
positions and how to apply, some applications were picked up for clients (due to limited access),
follow-up calls after an application was turned in and after interview follow up. Upon being
hired, there was also a 30, 60, 90 day follow with the employer to gain perspective on the
progress of the employee/client. This intensive follow-up gave the employer a chance to learn
more about the FEPO program, tax credit information, follow services and resources available.
Employers expected updated resumes, being able to explain their in gaps in employment,
and being motivated and job ready.
Response to Challenges
The FEPO BSR & CM did a great job of developing workshops catered to the FEPO
client’s needs such as “Understanding Employer Expectations” and “Letter of Explanation”
along with informing clients about the other services available to them in the Workforce
Development Center, such as: Resume Writing, Mock Interviews, Computer Skill Lab, and the
WCTC Career Center. The FEPO Team, along with center partners planned and held a half day
workshop called “Pathways to Success”. This workshop was well-organized and provided
resources and motivation for the FEPO clients at the Workforce Development Center.
Success of FEPO was largely dependent on establishing and maintaining relationships
with various agencies and entities within Waukesha County. Because FEPO was a demonstration
project operating on a limited budget, partnering with programs and agencies like Arbor
Education and Training’s FSET or Children First programs assisted participants with receiving
needed economic support. Additional benefits from these relationships were a “value added”
situation for clients in that they had extra job coaches and cheerleaders, as well as accountability.
Partnering with the Waukesha County Jail and Huber Facility staff enabled FEPO staff to
seamlessly enter facilities and follow participants no matter where they might be. Free and
routine access to both, as well as the ability to receive and transfer information in a timely
manner allowed participants a continued flow of service.
The Department of Corrections Division of Community Corrections Probation and Parole
staff were also key partners in FEPO. Having an on site office allowed the FEPO OES to meet
with their clients as a “piggy-back” to their agent appointments. This allowed the participant to
not have to make extra trips out into the community, to have facilitated communication between
them, their agent, and the OES, and both a cost and time savings to them. Additionally, the
access to a computer in this office allowed the OES to provide maximum services to participants
Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC) was an important player in FEPO in that
WCTC operated the career center at the Workforce Development Center and routinely came into
contact with FEPO participants. WCTC staff was very open to working with this clientele and
providing any needed services. In addition, WCTC routinely offers free or low cost trainings or
assistance on applications, resume preparation, resume review and critique, interviewing (with an
opportunity for mock interviewing), and others.
WCTC was instrumental in the success of FEPO participants because many were referred
to the WCTC retention specialist in order to complete financial aid forms; learn about, register,
and enroll in programs and classes; and about all the items needed to be successful in school. The
retention specialist understood working with this group of people, and as a result, a large number
of participants have successful enrolled in, and are completing programs.
When FEPO began we did not realize the full extent of the needs that existed in
Waukesha County. Program referrals came in very quickly and continued to do so. In order to
assist as many referrals as possible, participants were sometimes referred to James Place, a local
faith-based organization providing various resources to county residents. At James Place
participants could receive a great deal of one-on-one attention to complete a resume, learn how
to use the computer or to do a job search. Participants routinely indicated this was an invaluable
resource to them. James Place also offered a “Holistic Hardware” program to assist those with
barriers in becoming successful in their job search, along with other community resource
Other organizations and entities that have been important to the creation and success of
FEPO through providing funds include:
Community Development Block Grant
Criminal Justice Collaborating Council
Department of Labor - WIRED
Finally, another element of success for FEPO includes the partnership of both WOW
Workforce Development, Inc. and Kaiser Group, Inc. The unique expertise that each company
brought to the table provided FEPO participants access to highly qualified staff that were quickly
and easily assimilated into each of their roles.
CLOSING STATEMENTS Is this even necessary?
“This workforce solution was funded by a grant awarded under Workforce Innovation in Regional
Economic Development (WIRED) as implemented by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and
Training Administration. The solution was created by the grantee and does not necessarily reflect the
official position of the U.S. Department of Labor. The Department of Labor makes no guarantees,
warranties, or assurances of any kind, express or implied, with respect to such information, including any
information on linked sites and including, but not limited to, accuracy of the information or its
completeness, timeliness, usefulness, adequacy, continued availability, or ownership. This solution is
copyrighted by the institution that created it. Internal use by an organization and/or personal use by an
individual for non-commercial purposes is permissible. All other uses require the prior authorization of
the copyright owner.”