As members of the Utah Defendant/Offender Workforce Development Task Force (UDOWD), we unite to facilitate collaboration between Federal, State, County, and Local Agencies in an effort to eliminate commonly perceived historical informational and procedural barriers between agencies. The focus of this united effort is to lower recidivism by assisting offenders in gaining and maintaining meaningful long term employment. This effort will increase community awareness regarding offender employment, educate employers about the economic benefit of hiring an offender, and provide job readiness courses and case management to offenders in need of assistance.
The UDOWD task force was established in 2009 subsequent to the collaborative efforts between Community Partners (Federal, State, County Correctional Agencies, local Religious and Non Profit Organizations) seeking the successful preparation and employment of the defendant/offender population. The noted Mission and Vision were created and unanimously agreed upon. The UDOWD Task Force has been very successful at reducing redundancies and duplication of services amongst agencies. The task force has focused on the standardization of things such as the creation of a universal employability workshop, job development, and agency referral pathways have taken place and are now in effect. The Employability Workshop addresses the specific challenges of this population, was jointly created, and is currently being taught in County Correctional Facilities, Jails, Prisons, federal half-way house, and within the communities on a weekly basis throughout Utah. A specialized referral known as the UDOWD Referral has also been formalized whereby the defendant/offender is referred to partnering agencies and works with trained and specialized practitioners who have been trained as Offender Employment Specialists. The Task Force continues to grow and is proving to be a valued resource to the offender, agency practitioners, community members, and employers.
Who Can Utilize UDOWD as a Resource?
- Anyone in a Residential Re -Entry Center (Halfway House) or under active supervision.
- Anyone with a criminal record, a desire to learn, and a willingness to put forth effort to find employment.
Advisory Group: This group is currently chaired by an administrator of the U.S. Probation Office and consists of partnering agency directors and administrators. This group meets quarterly or as needed for updates from Working and County Group Chairs to address identified barriers/problems that need attention. This group has the authority to manifest change through the review of their individual policy and procedures and to affect change as agreed upon or needed.
Working Group: UDOWD Liaisons include practitioners from partnering agencies that have been trained as Offender Employment Specialists (OES) and Offender Workforce Development Specialists (OWDS). This group meets monthly to receive reports from County Group Chairs to discuss/review progress, implement approved changes by the Advisory Group, Oversee UDOWD related trainings, manage and facilitate public and employer outreach, and create agenda items needed to be addressed by the Advisory Group.
County Groups: Groups are formed by geographic location. This group meets up to 2 times per month to identify and share local UDOWD related resources, conduct job development opportunities within the community, plan training and educational events, and conduct case staffing to include educational/vocational opportunities and job placement.