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Governor Brownback applauds workforce specialists who assist offenders

by KDOC News — last modified Nov 09, 2017 11:48 AM
Governor Sam Brownback shared his appreciation for Kansans who help offenders gain employment at a training program for workforce specialists on Nov. 8 at the State Capitol.


Brownback congratulated 32 graduates of an Offender Workforce Development Specialist (OWDS) course, which concluded with a graduation ceremony at the Statehouse.

“Research shows employment has such an impact on the success of people as they leave prison,” Brownback told the group. “It helps them not return to prison, it helps them stand on their own and feel good about themselves.

“When you can see that you’ve touched someone, helped them overcome, that’s what makes the job you do worthwhile.”

Brownback met with the group at the culmination of the 4-month long course. OWDS trains staff from various entities who help the thousands released from incarceration in need of employment. Participants gain helpful strategies to address the barriers faced by offenders attempting to reenter the labor market.

“The course equips corrections professionals and their community partners in their mission helping offenders to become self sufficient and to contribute positively to society,” OWDS Program Manager Jim Chastain said. “Knowing the link between recidivism and employment status, these professionals are critical in helping keep their clients from reoffending.”

Participants in OWDS attend 10 classroom sessions, and do about 160 hours of coursework over a 4-month period. The class culminates with each making a presentation of an “action plan” that they could put to use in their positions to create employment opportunities for offenders.

OWDS also serves to build connections between agencies who work with offenders. Participants in OWDS often include staff from the Kansas Department of Corrections, Department of Children and Family, and Department of Commerce, as well as local workforce investment boards, community colleges, and vocational/technical schools. Private agencies and businesses, faith-based organizations, mentors and private individuals have all taken part in this training in the past.

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