Pima County, Tucson Agencies Reconvene to Discuss Recent Updates in Workforce Development Strategies

Following last year’s series of co-convenings, held in partnership with Old Pueblo Community Services, Primavera Foundation hosted agencies from Tucson and Pima County on February 12 to share information about their services, build an understanding of their roles and the referral process, and identify gaps to better serve the community.

Primavera Foundation CEO Tisha Tallman led the discussion and was joined by more than 20 representatives from nine other organizations, including Old Pueblo Community Services (OPCS) and the Pima County Community and Workforce Development (CWD) department. This was the first co-convening of 2024 with three more to come this year addressing housing, homeownership and restorative justice.

After acknowledging that housing is consistently the biggest barrier and agreeing that it is usually the first priority, the group began identifying challenges, opportunities and action items, as well as identifying the populations that each organization focuses on and collaborating on how to fill gaps.

“We want to be thinking from a place of abundance rather than scarcity when it comes to overlapping services,” Tallman said.

Some of the consistent themes throughout the discussion were the importance of addressing the needs of participants with criminal histories, mental health challenges and a lack of reliable transportation, and ensuring they have access to a wide range of services.

Emmanuelle Fahey, Restorative Justice Coordinator with Pima County Attorney’s Office, discussed re-entry simulators hosted by Pima County’s Department of Justice Services, formerly known as the Criminal Justice Reform Unit. These re-entry simulators are free-of-charge and available to be hosted at different offices.

“They give you a name and a criminal check and then you get to navigate probation officers, mental health professionals, etc.,” Fahey said. “These are realistic challenges that someone faces when they get out of prison.”

Another major challenge emphasized by Chris McNamara, Vice President of Rehabilitation Services at Beacon Group, was data management and the need to streamline the registration process and cut down on the amount of time and data management tools needed to keep track of participants.

“We reach about 12,000 people with our weekly email blasts,” said David Balderrama and Celina Santana from the Pima County One-Stop program. The One-Stop program is a system connecting employers to services, resources, and programs available in the community to assist workers and/or training participants.

Moving forward, the group was able to identify next steps, such as reaching out to both employers and participants and getting feedback from those on both sides of the process. While there is some existing feedback from Pima County, the group agreed to develop strategies for gathering information in order to form a more comprehensive plan.

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