Discusses the policies and operations of a tri-county education and employment support program aimed at improving outcomes for disconnected youth.

This report examines the implementation of the Linking Innovation, Knowledge, and Employment (“@LIKE”) program, a tri-county effort to improve the educational and employment outcomes of disconnected youth in Riverside, San Bernadino, and Imperial Counties in Southern California. As a Workforce Innovation Fund project, @LIKE had the primary goals “1) To help participants achieve educational and employment goals. 2) To create a network through which the three consortium counties can collaborate to better serve this hard-to-reach population. 3) To develop a service delivery model that can be replicated in other areas and used to improve the lives of other disconnected young adults throughout California and the United States” (p.1).

“This report comprehensively documents the @LIKE program operations, policies, and processes across the tri-county service area in Southern California. Additionally, it identifies lessons learned and best practices at the 2-year point of the program. The report is informed primarily by in-depth site visits to each of the three participating counties, which were completed in October 2014” (p.4).

“In documenting each component of the @LIKE program in detail, this report may also serve as a user’s guide for successfully implementing similar programs in other areas. The descriptions of the most effective and best practices observed at one or more of the nine individual service delivery sites are reported here and should serve as a valuable resource to institutions and workforce investment areas interested in serving disconnected young adults. In this way, the report will help inform the implementation and program delivery models of future efforts to provide effective services to disconnected young adults through the public workforce system” (p.4).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

The authors “identified the following accomplishments and challenges of the @LIKE program during its first year of operation: • The @LIKE program was successfully implemented across all program sites in the tri-county area” (p.2). • “A uniform data collection system was established across all @LIKE Sites” (p.2). • “Program staff developed a well-defined role for the Life Coach” (p.2). • “Program staff were concerned about meeting the recruitment and certification performance measure targets” (p.2). • “Staff found it difficult to engage and retain @LIKE participants” (p.2). • “The definition of disconnected young adults was constraining and lacked flexibility” (p.2). The authors had the following recommendations for other entities looking to implement similar programs: • “Plan Strategically and Use a Leadership System” (p.48). • “Include Young Adults in Strategic Planning” (p.48). • “Design and Use a Communication Structure” (p.49). • “Collect and Use Program Data Early and Often” (p.49). • “Hire and Train Life Coaches” (p.49). • “Use Two Separate Staff Positions for Life Coach and Case Manager” (p.49). • “Use Participant Cohorts” (p.50). • “Follow a Two-Pronged Approach to Recruit Participants—Go Where They Are and Use Participant “Referrals” (p. 50). • “Streamline Program Enrollment Process and Prioritize Participant Engagement” (p.50). • “Provide Participants with Customized Services” (p.50). • “Provide Inactive Participants with the Flexibility to Re-engage” (p.51). • “Devise Specialized Strategies for Serving and Retaining Participants Aged 22–24” (p.51). • “Employ Social/Psychological Assessments as Tools to Facilitate Life Coaching” (p.51). • “Include Mental Health and Disability Screening and Services” (p.51). • “Emphasize Professional Development and Lifelong Learning” (p.51). • “Provide Flexibility on Program Completion Procedures” (p.52). • “Forge Partnerships to Provide Services” (p.52). • “Cultivate and Nurture Employer Relationships” (p.52). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)