Since 1973, Clackamas County Children’s Commission has been proud to provide services to families living in poverty. Currently 628 Head Start and 86 Early Head Start children participate in classroom and home visiting services in 11 locations throughout Clackamas County. Our mission is to support the growth of healthy children and families, positive parenting and school readiness.
One effort we are particularly excited about is a program called Job Smart.
In 2014, partner organizations from around Clackamas County met to discuss sustainable strategies to move working families out of poverty; strategies that will support long term individual and family well-being, strong communities and healthy children who are kindergarten-ready. These meetings resulted in a collaboration between Clackamas County Children’s Commission (CCCC), Clackamas Workforce Partnership and WorkSource Clackamas to form a new project called Job Smart.
The project is designed to break the cycle of poverty for low-income working parents enrolled in Head Start, Early Head Start and/or Healthy Families programs by helping them attain full time jobs with better pay and benefits through training and networking support. Many working parents receiving CCCC services are working minimum-wage jobs with changing schedules and often lack the opportunities and education needed for other options and advancement.
Job Smart parents receive 1-1 support from a workforce advisor employed by Clackamas Community College’s (CCC) Workforce Development Department to help parents assess their needs, supports, strengths and skills. The advisor then develops realistic employment plans with parents that may include education, training and placement into On The Job Training positions with employers. Job placement services are also offered. To assist with progress, motivation and retention, the advisor maintains communication with CCCC’s home visit staff who are already focused on parent relationships and partnerships.
Enrolled families also meet monthly as a cohort to network, share resources, challenges and success and to hear employment-related and parenting presentations from CCC staff and community members. Childcare and pizza are provided and parents have formed supportive relationships.
In 2016, the Clackamas Workforce Partnership applied to CareOregon for funds to assist with childcare for Job Smart participants and were awarded $94,000 from its community benefits grants program.
Current participants are working toward career-related certificates in a variety of areas, including computer networking, welding, health care, accounting and early childhood education, all while continuing to work and parent young children. They are determined to succeed and to be role models for their children.