County's mobile career center to help ex-convicts

March 29, 2010|By By Mary Gail Hare | The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore County has put the job search on wheels with a $330,000 mobile career center focused on serving ex-convicts as they return to the community.

A federal grant helped the county's Office of Workforce Development purchase and outfit the 29-foot-long Ford truck with six computer stations, telephones and fax machines.

At least three jobs counselors will be available at all times as the truck makes its rounds to the Baltimore County Detention Center, the four locations of the Division of Parole and Probation and several areas with high crime rates. The center will operate on weekends as well as during the week, so that it may appear at job fairs.

"We will go wherever we are requested," said Neishall K. Schuyler, county spokeswoman for workforce development.

The van will bring job search assistance and professional counseling to ex-offenders, said Barry Williams, county director of workforce development. He said the service means people with a criminal record will not be left out of the economic recovery in the region.

The county expects at least 700 people will use the service in the next 18 months. About 200 current detainees, many of them on work release, are already taking advantage of the program as they prepare to leave the prison system, Schuyler said.

Other county agencies might also make use of the center. The Health Department has made it a weekend mobile clinic for its H1N1 inoculations program.

Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. said the center will help ex-offenders find work. "When ex-offenders are employed, they are less likely to re-offend," he said in a statement.

The center, which began operating in February, will be formally dedicated at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Randallstown Community Center.

More information is available at baltimorecountymd.gov/agencies/jobtraining or 410-887-3714.

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