Governor Andy Beshear announcing Unemployment insurance customer service expansion

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Feb. 19, 2020) — Today, at the state Capitol, Gov. Andy Beshear announced his administration is working to speed up unemployment insurance claims and is recovering thousands overpaid to deceased workers compensation fund beneficiaries. Both actions improve operations so that state government better serves Kentucky families.

Dedicated unemployment insurance staff at career centers
Gov. Beshear said, he and Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, who also serves as Education and Workforce Development secretary, had the state retrain current staff in the state’s 12 local Kentucky Career Centers (KCC) to help Kentuckians who need to obtain unemployment insurance assistance.

“In times of need, Kentuckians should be able to quickly talk with someone who can help them,” said Gov. Beshear. “Jacqueline and I knew more needed to be done to help families struggling so we took action. We have now trained current employees on how to process unemployment insurance claims, which has decreased wait times on the help line and is allowing us to provide the face-to-face customer service Kentuckians want and deserve. Since the change last week, staff has helped over 1,000 customers and call wait times have seen a 50% decrease.”

Lt. Gov. Coleman said, as our new administration took office, it became clear that Kentuckians were not getting the help they deserved and we took steps to begin improving services.

Wayne County Judge-Executive Mike Anderson and Cumberlands Workforce Development Board (CWDB) Chairman Sam Brown

Wayne County Judge-Executive Mike Anderson (left) and Cumberlands Workforce Development Board (CWDB) Chairman Sam Brown recently signed an agreement for Wayne County Detention Center's participation in the Pre-Release Employment Program.

Wayne County joins Russell and Pulaski counties in the regional effort to create pathways for inmates and low-income individuals to rebuild their lives by equipping them with knowledge and skills to gain employment and become successful members of the communities in which they live.

Working with dozens of community organizations and employers in a growing number of counties in the Cumberlands Workforce Development Area, the CWDB is leading the effort to knock down barriers that often block a person's successful reentry into their community. Barriers such as housing, food, transportation, documentation, and more.

Russell County Jailer Bobby Dunbar speaks to a group of soon-to-be released inmates at the Russell County Detention Center on January 10, 2020.

The Russell County Detention Center recently hosted its third Pre-Release class to inmates with upcoming release dates. Russell County’s Pre-Release Program aims to reduce recidivism among released prisoners. The Pre-Release initiative is a response to the Bureau of Justice Statistics found within five years of release, about 76% of released prisoners were rearrested. 

In an effort to break the cycle of criminal behavior, the Pre-Release program takes a comprehensive approach by offering tools to help individuals become productive members of the workforce. The education session at the Russell County Detention Center included information on healthy living, education, probation and parole, employment resources and much more.

Speakers included Cumberlands Workforce Development Board Director Myra Wilson, Health Benefits Assister Carol Johnson, and Lake Cumberland Area Development District Executive Director Darryl McGaha.

A number of agencies participated in the program, offering workshops and talks for the inmates:

Cumberlands Workforce Development
Russell County Department of Corrections
Goodwill Industries
Sky Hope Recovery Center
Oxford House
Rural Health Opioid Program
Lake Cumberland Area Development District
Russell County Attorney

Kelly Strunk puts the CDL simulator through its paces as program coordinator John Mitchell looked on.

SOMERSET, Ky. — A new four-week Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) program at Somerset Community College is steering students toward a career with huge demand and the potential for a steady paycheck.

Program instructor John Mitchell said that graduates could see immediate results. “There are very good employment possibilities for truck drivers in this area,” he said and notes that “a CDL is a guaranteed paycheck for the rest of your life.”

Classes are held on SCC’s Somerset campus for 10 hours a day, four days a week, for four weeks—160 hours. Forty of the hours are in the classroom and 120 hours are “in the trucks, driving and performing maneuvers,” Mitchell said.

The program, administered through Workforce Solutions, has three trucks. When the course is completed, students will have learned all the necessary skills to take the Class A CDL license test. The evaluation is administered by the Kentucky State Police, and Mitchell says the college is involved throughout the entire process.

Read the full story in The Lane Report

SPEDA’s Industrial Leaders Breakfast series

CRITICAL will provide soft-skills, technical training to inmates and help them navigate the job application process

The Somerset-Pulaski County Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) introduced industrial leaders to an evolving initiative Thursday to grow Pulaski County’s workforce while also helping incarcerated men and women gain a new start on life when they are released.

During the second installment of SPEDA’s Industrial Leaders Breakfast series, more than 50 leaders representing 26 Pulaski County businesses listened as those involved in implementing the CRITICAL program — Comprehensive Rehabilitation of Inmates Transforming Individuals, Community and Livelihoods — described its purpose and encouraged local businesses to participate.

This three-phase program will offer soft skills and technical training to inmates at the Pulaski County Detention Center, while also creating a transformational center inside the jail where employees can learn about job opportunities available and interview.

Read the full story on the SPEDA website.

Russell County Jailer Bobby Dunbar and Russell County Attorney Kevin Shearer

The Cumberlands Workforce Development Board October meeting featured an update from Russell County Jailer Bobby Dunbar and Russell County Attorney Kevin Shearer on Russell County's Pre-Release program’s initial inmate information session recently held at the Russell County Detention Center. The purpose of the pre-release program, or LEAP (Linking Employment to Activities Pre-Release), is to successfully bring those with felonies or misdemeanors, or who have extremely low income, into the workforce.

The pre-release program recently provided a group of Russell County inmates with comprehensive resources to help them access pre-employment necessities that many take for granted, such as locating birth certificates, social security cards, identification, etc. The pre-release program partners also provide resources to offer assistance with things like job search, resumes, interview skills, transportation, and even interview clothing. The program’s initial group of inmates have noted an overwhelming success rate with post-incarceration employment. 

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