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Poverty & Equity Thought Leadership

Joining Forces to Get Our Neighbors Employment Ready

Businesswoman Interviewing Male Job Candidate In Seating Area Of Modern Office

In tandem with finding stable employment, many caregivers and heads of household are dealing with trauma and other socioemotional challenges. That is where Families First comes in. We have developed a screening tool to assess resiliency, a person’s ability to get back out there and their readiness to face life’s challenges. For some it is an immediate transition to work; however, for others there may be a need for coaching, mentoring or behavioral health services from Families First, Georgia Center for Opportunity, Impact46, Crisis to Career or other participating organizations to be successful in a new job.  

“The biggest challenge for our clients is getting to the starting point where they understand that there is hope, that their situation can change. In the past, we thought family members were resilient or not. Now we understand, based out of scientific discoveries, that resiliency is something that we can develop,” said Dr. Edward M. Valentin, Ph.D., LCSW, Families First, Director of Clinical Services.

Connecting our neighbors with the right job opportunities is a key component of building resilient communities and Families First is partnering with organizations including Crisis to Career and Bettter Work Gwinnett to help our families find meaningful employment. According to the Georgia Department of Labor, EmployGeorgia.com, the total number of job listings has nearly tripled since the beginning of the pandemic from 73,000 jobs in April 2020 to more than 200,000 jobs listed with over half of them advertising annual salaries of more than $40,000.

Crisis to Career Gwinnett is a collective impact partnership, focused on helping families in crisis find resources to help with their immediate needs such as safe housing and food. The program then helps the family locate employment with sustainable wages. This initiative has served approximately 300 Gwinnett families living in poverty, representing 800 family members. The goal of Crisis to Career over the next three years is to help 6,000 families living in Gwinnett find employment. Families First is pleased to join with Impact46 and Georgia Center for Opportunity to implement this transformational program focused on increasing each family’s resiliency and ability to overcome barriers to achieve success. Families First will provide our Navigator program to help guide families toward employment that fits their skill level and economic need while making sure each family has housing, food, and supportive services. Families First has a strong history of program evaluation and will also provide continuous quality improvement (CQI) evaluation services, ensuring Crisis to Career performs to the highest level of quality.

In addition, Families First recently joined forces with Better Work Gwinnett, a project of Hiring Well Doing Well and Georgia Center for Opportunity to host a free Drive-Thru Job Fair. Working with partners including The Community Foundation for Northeast GeorgiaUnited WayGwinnett Chamber of CommerceGoodwill of North Georgia, the job fair helped connect job seekers with job opportunities in Gwinnett from more than 50 companies ready to hire including Gwinnett County Public Schools – Transportation, Chick-fil-a, Randstad USA, Northside Hospital, Americas Banks, Waffle House and CEFGA (Construction Education Foundation of GA). “

“The global pandemic is impacting our neighbors,” said Director of GCO’s Gwinnett Workforce Initiative, Jace Brooks. “When the pandemic started, Gwinnett County saw thousands of residents out of work, many of them faced housing and food insecurity. The drive-thru job fair allowed job seekers the ability to connect with potential employers while still practicing social distancing and safe health regulations. It has been great to see local groups working together in such harmony for the good of the community. The job fair is beneficial to our local residents, businesses, and economy.”

The job fair was also the launch of Better Work Gwinnett, a collaborative initiative designed to connect job seekers more effectively to local available jobs. Services also include employment mentoring, job preparation skills, and connection to counseling and support services.

At Families First, we want employment for our families to be long term. Your support allows us to provide aftercare and follow up 12 to 18 months after they return to work. As you know, life’s problems never go away, but with our resilience-based services, our families learn how to adapt and maintain their employment letting them earn more, build a stronger family, and put their children on a path to thrive in the future. 


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