Contact: Connie Watson 512-943-1663 (office) 512-844-3542 (cell) FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SUMMER VOCATIONAL TRAINING OFFERED April 7, 2014 (Williamson County, TX) – While some teens will spend this summer at the pool or watching television, 24 youth starting at age 16 will be offered a unique opportunity to learn a vocational skill through Williamson County Juvenile Services. This summer will mark the third year Williamson County Juvenile Services has teamed up with Skillpoint Alliance – Gateway to offer vocational training for the youth they serve. Youth are selected based on a competitive process that includes interviews, their progress and behavior with the Juvenile Services programs and services, and individual circumstances. Two vocational training programs will be offered to aide and strengthen their ability to obtain and sustain gainful employment. The first program, Culinary Arts, is a 160-hour course which provides students with the training to obtain necessary skills for employment in the food service and restaurant industry. Throughout the course, students are planning and cooking meals while gaining an understanding of the intricacies of restaurant operations and management. Students will display their proficiency at the end of the course by opening up the “Wilco Way Café” (for a day) for the WCJS staff and invited guests. Participating students will obtain a variety of hands on cooking skills in a fully functioning commercial kitchen offered in a partnership with the Georgetown Independent School District. Students who successfully complete the program will earn a variety of certifications; Food Handlers Course, OSHA 10-Hour, First Aid, CPR, and AED. The second program offered is Plumbing which prepares students for entry-level work in the plumbing field within the 240-hour specialty program that also familiarizes students with basic construction skills. Students learn the plumbing theory, code, pipe fittings, DWV systems and water

distribution systems which upon completion can guide them to entry level positions. Upon completion of the plumbing course the students will have obtained an OSHA 10-Hour Certification, First Aid, CPR & AED Certification, NCCER Certification in Introductory Craft Skills and Level One Plumbing, PHCC Certificate of Completion, and a Plumbing Apprentice License. Juvenile Services receives a grant through the Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) that provides funding to support agencies like Skillpoint Alliance – Gateway to develop and facilitate the summer vocational education courses. These courses teach the youth marketable job skills and uncover opportunities that will benefit them far beyond their connection to the juvenile services department. At the end of the program, a small but jubilant graduation is held recognizing all the students’ achievements during the summer program. Last year, Precinct #4 Commissioner Ron Morrison was the graduation guest speaker. Commissioner Morrison spoke about his days as a vocational teacher before becoming a commissioner. Commissioner Morrison gave a loud and clear message to the students that people who work with their hands are who drive our economy. Juvenile Services Director Scott Matthew points out that providing this valuable resource to youth is in alignment with the organization’s service philosophy of building assets in the lives of yout h and families that will benefit them well beyond their contact with the organization. Matthew also states that this program aligns with their organization’s mission of Making a difference in their community; by creating opportunities for positive change through hope, empowerment, prevention and accountability. “Kids get a chance to develop a skill that can translate directly to helping provide for their family. I wish we could do more in this regard,” states Matthew. “Our goal is to continue to collect evidence of the effectiveness of this program and then collaborate with other youth serving agencies to provide this on a much larger scale in the future.”

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