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c. 2. Describe the strategies the State will use to achieve improved outcomes for out-of-school youth as described in 129(a)(1)(B), including how it will leverage and align the core programs, any Combined State Plan partner programs included in this Plan, required and optional one-stop partner programs, and any other resources available.

Current Narrative:

The purpose of WIOA youth services is to assist low-income youth, (ages 14-21 if in-school youth; ages 16-24 if out-of-school youth), who face significant barriers to education and/or employment by providing resources and support to overcome those barriers and successfully transition to self-sufficient adulthood. This is accomplished by assessing a participant’s skills, interests, needs and goals, creating customized service plans in collaboration with the participant, and expanding the participant’s connection to educational opportunities, the local economy, and community services. All youth metrics are linked together, there are no specific metrics for out-of-school youth.  All of the strategies below are designed to increase participation of and outcome achievement of Indiana's youth population, including in- and out-of-school youth. 

For out-of-school youth, WIOA services can be the primary connection point for these individuals with both the workforce development and social services systems. By leveraging WIOA Youth services for these Hoosiers, they can attain success in gaining access to occupational opportunities within the local economy.

This process is coordinated around 14 Youth Program Elements, which must be made available to every participant. The 14 youth program elements are:

  1. Tutoring, study skills training, and dropout prevention strategies:
  • Indiana utilizes its statewide Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) program as its dropout prevention strategy for in-school youth.
  • Local programs may utilize their own strategies for individual tutoring or study skills training as appropriate and necessary. For example, Indiana’s Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology operates the AskRose a homework help hotline for students statewide, a resource which is publicized and may be utilized by local areas. 
  • Additionally, Indiana’s Adult Education system may also be utilized by out-of-school youth for academic remediation.

2. Alternative secondary school services, or dropout recovery services as appropriate:

  • Indiana utilizes the Jobs for America’s Graduates out-of-school program model in one, high poverty local area to provide dropout recovery services.
  • Additionally, all local areas partner with their adult education providers, operated by the Department of Workforce Development for dropout recovery/ high school equivalency classes for youth participants. In local areas where other adult education providers exist, such as Goodwill’s Excel Center (a re-engagement center), youth are enrolled, as appropriate.
  • The Indiana Department of Education also oversees alternative education programs, otherwise known as credit recovery schools, in local school corporations. In-school youth participants have access to these programs when appropriate. In several such examples, JAG alternative education models operate in these schools providing wraparound supports with a focus on graduation and future employment, education, or enlistment outcomes. 

3. Paid and unpaid work experiences, including summer employment and other opportunities throughout the year, pre-apprenticeship programs, internships and job shadowing, and on-the-job training opportunities:

  • Indiana’s local areas offer numerous work experiences (including summer employment, job shadowing, internships, and on-the-job training) at local employers for out-of-school youth. These work experiences range in length, but are typically short-term and can last up to twelve weeks. Many work experiences include a “boot camp” or training prior to the start, as well as milestone trainings regarding the jobsite, industry, or individual’s onsite performance. All work experiences include some form of academic and occupational education aligned with their placement and/or career pathway.
  • As a promising practice, many local areas also provide training to employers and supervisors before and during the onsite work experience. Topics range from understanding youth culture, barriers, and activities designed to import strategies to make the experience successful for both parties.
    4.  Occupational skills training:
  • Indiana offers multiple access points for out-of-school youth participants to seek occupational skills training that will result in an industry-recognized credential. These could include a specific training program selected by the youth based on their career interest and aptitude results and/or the state’s sponsored short-term, in-demand industry training occupations accessed through Next Level Jobs.
  • Additionally, the state also includes apprenticeship programs, JobCorps, and YouthBuild in this program element.
    5. Education offered concurrently with and in the same context as workforce preparation activities:
  • Local areas offer this program element, as appropriate, for youth who are enrolled in a postsecondary education opportunity (including those in credential programs) and may need a short-term work experience or employability skills training, such as those found in the Jobs for America’s Graduates program models. This also includes local “boot-camp” programs offered prior to short-term work experience, on-the job training, internships, or Adult Education’s Integrated Education and Training (IET) program.
  • The JAG program, including the out-of-school youth model, specifically identifies 37 core employability skills to align with workforce preparation activities. 
  • Legislation passed in 2018 required employability skill standards be taught in Indiana’s schools. DWD has partnered with the Indiana Department of Education and a variety of stakeholders to align employability skills across the K-12 and workforce system, creating a comprehensive list of employer derived skills that can be taught in any K-12 grade band or discipline. Skills are also matched to social-emotional learning requirements to create well-rounded instruction and students. These standards have since been approved by the Indiana State Board of Education.
  1. Leadership development opportunities, including community service and peer-centered activities encouraging responsibility and other positive social and civic behaviors:
  • Local areas offer this program element, as appropriate, through local partnerships with colleges and other leadership training programs or providers. Some such examples include the Boys and Girls Club, Junior Achievement, Shafer Leadership Academy, the Indiana National Guard, and more.
  • All Jobs for America’s Graduates students participate in leadership development through the application of the Career Association (ISY) or Professional Association (OOSY and CSP). Activities include teambuilding, service learning projects, regional Leadership Development Conferences, and participation in the National Student Leadership Academy (hosted in Washington, D.C. by the JAG National organization).

7. Supportive Services:

  • Local areas offer this program element, as appropriate, to assist ISY and OSY meet goals developed through the objective assessment, through the following examples of assistance:
    •  Clothing assistance (potentially used for interviews, work experience, job placement, etc.),
    • Transportation assistance (potentially used to participate in work experience, interviews, education or job placement, etc.),
    • Child and dependent care assistance (connected to CCDF or On My PreK, when feasible),
    • Referrals to medical services,
    • Assistance with training materials such as books and equipment, and
    • Incentives for completion of participant goals.
      Providers vary in each local area but could include gas cards for and/or clothing assistance.

8. Adult mentoring:

  • Local areas offer this program element, as appropriate, through connections with partner organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, Starfish Initiative, local postsecondary college and university students, or other organizations that specialize in mentoring teens and young adults.

9. Comprehensive guidance and counseling:

  • Often, this program element is provided by the on-site youth case manager, especially for career and education counseling.
  • However, if a youth, including an out-of-school youth, has a specific need for specialized counseling, local areas refer participants to drug and alcohol treatment facilities, mental health counselors and other organizations when appropriate.
  1.  Financial literacy education:
    • Local areas have developed partnerships with individual financial institutions and local banks to provide financial literacy training to participants, including out-of-school youth. These include, but are not limited to, InvestEd, Regions Bank, Old National Bank, PNC Bank, and more. 
    • Local areas also utilize online curriculum and tools to provide digital financial literacy education; examples include materials through EverFi, Allison.com, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and FDIC Youth Guide to Financial Literacy.
  2.  Entrepreneurial skills training:
    • Local areas have established partnerships with their Small Business Administrations, Small Business Development Centers, state and local Chambers of Commerce, Ivy Tech’s Cook Center for Entrepreneurship, and Junior Achievement as sources of curriculum, guest speakers, and mentors to youth participants, including out-of-school youth.
    • Several local service providers have developed curriculum for this program element that focuses on the awareness and understanding of entrepreneurship and the steps to create a detailed business plan.
    • Through the Jobs for America’s Graduates program, students utilize EverFi online curriculum and have the opportunity to present a business plan utilizing skills learned through the Entrepreneurial Skills Training service at their annual Career Development Conference in a “shark tank-like” competition.
  3.  Services that provide labor market and employment information:
    • Indiana operates a statewide career interest and work values website, Indiana Career Explorer, which provides all youth, including out-of-school youth, participants access to labor market information related to career pathways and Indiana specific in-demand occupations that align with their interests.
    • Indiana also operates Indiana Career Ready, which provides Indiana specific workforce data that can be broken down by regional and local areas.
    • Local areas have the ability to provide additional information and resources for this program element as appropriate.
  4. Activities that help youth prepare for and transition to post-secondary education and training: 
  • The Jobs for America’s Graduates program model, including the out-of-school youth model, integrates curriculum and activities such as scholarship, application and financial aid assistance, entrance exam preparation, and other independent living skills that would ensure success in the youth’s post-secondary experience. One hundred percent of JAG students are required to complete the FAFSA, take the SAT and ACT, and apply to at least one college. Demonstrations of the students’ academic foundation sets the student up for potential enrollment into a postsecondary education institution. Should the student chose to pursue this pathway, even if pursuit is not immediate, the student has practiced and hopefully mastered the process. 
  • Local areas employ other tactics that are regionally specific. They include, but are not limited to, college fairs and visits, Financial Aid application nights, or college bridge programs.
  • Statewide partnerships with organizations such as the Commission for Higher Education and InvestEd help inform youth, their case managers, JAG Specialists, parents and mentors understand and navigate the financial aid and state scholarship application processes (such as 21st Century Scholars and Frank O’Bannon Scholarship).
  • The Indianapolis-based YES (Youth Employability Skills) program is a statewide promising practice designed to recruit out-of-school youth through open hours at the Boys and Girls Club; youth are then matched with a REF (re-employment facilitator) to assess career interests, academic and employment goals, and then process through a mind-setting boot camp, with goals focused in student attainment of their high school equivalency diploma and/or entrance into training or employment. 

14. Follow-up services for not less than 12 months after the completion of participation:

  • Indiana requires follow-up services for all participants to occur at least once every 90 days after exit. In addition, Jobs for America’s Graduates participants are contacted, at minimum once a month after exit, with student-specific goals to track the follow-up contact and services provided during the contact.
    The types and duration of services provided may vary based on the needs of the individual, but may include leadership development and supportive services; regular contact with a youth’s employer including assistance in addressing work-related problems; assistance in securing better paying jobs, career pathway development and further education or training; work-related peer support groups; adult mentoring; or services necessary to ensure success in post-secondary training. 
    The state’s major focus for recruiting out-of-school youth and assisting them in achieving their goals is a partnership with Title II Adult Education programs. In the past two years, youth between the ages of 16-24 make up nearly 35% of the state’s Adult Education enrollments, nearly all are drop-out students working on achieving their high school equivalency diploma. This partnership increases participation (enrollment and attendance) in both programs, as well as assisting in educating the out-of-school youth for preparation in career pathways and bridge short-term training programs with direct linkages to post-training employment. Indiana intends on using Perkins as an instructional fulcrum connecting CTE instruction at the secondary level with that at the postsecondary level. Through Perkins, we can also build greater articulation between adult and postsecondary education, as well as secondary and postsecondary education, in the CTE space. Combining career pathways and programs of study into one concept allows Indiana to serve both adults and high school students through coordinated, aligned, and structured pathways leading towards recognized postsecondary credentials.
    Joint statewide Youth and Adult Education Director meetings have been ongoing since 2014, as well as a focus for WorkOne youth providers to serve as members of regional Adult Education consortium meetings. At the state level, an ongoing partnership between department leadership has continued since 2014, where staff meet jointly on a bi-monthly basis, participate in monthly and annual training events, including the Adult Education Conference, JAG State Training Seminar and Young Adult Services Summit.  Local WorkOne staff participate in Adult Education program participant onboarding or welcome meetings and vice a versa to ensure all participants are aware of the array of services available to them in both programs. Adult Education partners serve on local standing youth committees.
    In addition to partnership with Title II Adult Education programs, recruiting and referral to Vocational Rehabilitation has been a statewide focus since the implementation of WIOA. This partnership allows out-of-school youth with significant barriers to employment to access funding for both intensive and basic services to assist them in their pursuits. Joint statewide training, local staff meetings, and specific referral forms/personal hand-offs are just some of the strategies VR and the statewide WorkOne system have implemented in order to ensure out-of-school youth participant access to programming. VR partners serve on local youth standing committees and on the statewide Youth Committee under the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet. In 2019, Vocational Rehabilitation and JAG Indiana formed a mutually beneficial partnership utilizing Pre-Employment Transition Services funds to expand JAG and supplement services to youth with disabilities. 

Additional partnerships with the statewide community college system, foster care system, Commission for Higher Education, Department of Child Services, Department of Education, and Department of Correction assist in helping local areas recruit potentially eligible out-of-school youth or provide them access to education or training funding and resources to assist them in completing goals related to education, training, and employment. State leadership serve on a variety of cross-agency committees and taskforces focused on bridging the gaps between agency programs designed to serve the state’s most vulnerable youth populations, including youth in foster care, juvenile offenders, homeless youth, those with mental health issues, and/or economically disadvantaged.