Bridging Workforce Development and Corrections Cultures: Issue Brief—Early Lessons from LEAP
Author(s): Lewis-Charp, Heather
Organizational Author(s): Social Policy Research Associates and Mathematica Policy Research
U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration
Resource Availability: Publicly available
Describes how workforce development and jail staff members collaborated across their distinct organizational cultures in the early implementation of jail-based American Job Centers funded through Linking Employment Activities Pre-release grants.
“This issue brief…explores lessons from the planning phase of the Linking to Employment Activities Pre-release (LEAP) grants. Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, LEAP pilots the creation of jail-based American Job Centers (AJCs) to support the successful reentry of participants and directly link them to community-based AJCs upon release” (p.1). “The creation of specialized...AJCs…in jails requires that workforce development agencies and corrections agen¬cies learn about and adjust to each other’s organizational cultures, including priorities, rules, assumptions, and decision-making processes. Although 16 of the 20 local workforce investment boards that received…LEAP…grants had previously provided post-release services to transitioning offenders, only four had prior experience with provid¬ing pre-release services in jails. This brief draws on data from visits to all 20 LEAP sites and focuses on the strategies the grantees used during the early planning and implementation period to build common ground between jail and workforce staff in promoting successful reentry for participants” (p.1). The brief is divided into two short sections. The first section, “Context for Partnership and Collaboration,” describes workforce and jail staff’s “perceptions of the quality of their relationships” and suggests “factors that may have contributed to [those] perspective[s]” (p.1). The second section, “Bridging Jail and Workforce Cultures,” summarizes several organizational factors that affect the way in which workforce and jail staff interact (p.2).“ Note that this issue brief is one in a series of five briefs that explore lessons from the early stages of LEAP.(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)
Major Findings & Recommendations
The brief presents findings about the “context for partnership and collaboration” (p.1) and about “bridging jail and workforce cultures” (p.2).
“Context for Partnership and Collaboration
Workforce and jail staff generally had very positive perceptions of the quality of their relationships and saw the creation of a jail-based AJC as part of a longer-term effort to promote collaboration between workforce development and corrections partners” (p.1). The author identifies three factors that “may have contributed to this perspective:” previous collaboration, supportive policy environments, and resource limitations (p.1).
“Bridging Jail and Workforce Cultures
Workforce and jail staff at jail-based AJCs emphasized the importance of providing time and space for workforce and jail staff to adjust to one another’s organizational cultures. Both explicit and implicit assumptions and values that guided the work of each agency influenced staff members’ interactions and decision making, and set the rules for implementing the jail-based AJC” (p.2). According to the author, these assumptions and values include the distinct roles of jail and workforce staff members, strategies to help workforce staff adjust to the jail rules and setting and to orient jail staff to AJCs, identification of acceptable modifications to jail practices, and the structure of the jail (p.2).
Overall, the author highlights three key findings:
• “Bridging the different organizational cultures of workforce development and correctional systems required ongoing communication and support between key leaders and staff members from both systems.
• Although developing a jail-based AJC requires adjustment by both workforce development and jail partners, the level of accommodation and acculturation was generally higher for workforce staff who viewed themselves as ‘guests’ who needed to conform to jail guidelines and rules.
• Formal staff trainings and co-location of workforce staff at the jail during the planning phase helped to strengthen the jail-based AJCs and acclimate workforce staff into jail culture and norms” (p.1).
(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)