Shares strategies Linking to Employment Activities Pre-release grantees used to expedite the planning and launch of jail-based American Job Centers, such as leveraging existing staff and resources and engaging in concrete planning during the proposal process.

“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).

“…LEAP…grantees were permitted to spend the first 9 months of the 24-month project period on planning and start-up activities before enrolling participants into their jail-based…AJCs…This brief uses data from site visits to 8 of the 20…LEAP…sites to explore the factors that enabled them to complete these activities more quickly than the time allotted. While an expedited launch does not necessarily imply that a grantee will have stronger overall performance, an analysis of grantees that began enrollment quickly provides insight into the conditions present and the strategies used to achieve faster, and perhaps more efficient, implementation” (p.1).

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

Overall, the authors found that “Jail-based AJCs that began serving participants early on in the planning period were able to leverage existing staff, curricula, knowledge, and partner experience to roll out services quickly” (p.1). Specifically, “Jail-based AJCs that started serving participants before the end of the nine-month planning period reported that existing partnerships between workforce development agencies, jails, and criminal justice organizations were an important factor in their expedited launch. Three grantees had managed employment services programs in their jails or operated jail-based AJCs for over five years, and had already completed many key start-up activities. Two of the three were among the earliest to enroll participants, in August and October 2015. For these grantees, LEAP represented an opportunity to strengthen an existing program rather than create something new. However, the other grantees interviewed for this topic still achieved an expedited launch despite having to secure space for the jail-based AJC, achieve buy-in for the development of the AJC, and complete other required start-up activities” (p.1). “Using the proposal and early planning phases of the grant to solidify the service structure and key relationships helped to expedite the launch of jail-based AJC services” (p.1). “Many grantees used the LEAP proposal process to (1) solidify partner commitments and (2) gather information they would need to operate the jail-based AJC effectively. To facilitate start-up, they used several techniques: • Target influential champions” (p.2). • “Collaborate on the proposal and obtain detailed commitments from jail and provider partners” (p.2). • “Gather relevant data on the jail population, including convictions, eligibility, and education” (p.2). • Emphasize planning and working in the AJC early—some grantees began preparations before the LEAP grant was awarded. (p.2) • “Hold structured, in-person meetings… [with] key decision-makers, such as the project manager, jail reentry coordinator, and manager of contractor staff; and…all partners and senior administrators, such as the [Workforce Investment Board] executive director and jail director” (p.3). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)