STAR program helps clients shine with skill training

Jan 15, 2011

STAR-2010-1.jpgA grant award from the Community Foundation of Johnson County is helping chronically unemployed and homeless persons gain new skills to employment and helping them rebuild their lives. The local grant award was part of a match for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding.

Crissy Canganelli, Shelter House executive director, says local partnerships are instrumental to helping our clients realize successes. "We greatly appreciate the Community Foundation's financial support. Shelter House programs reach out to those in the community who have the most needs."

Now in its 12 year, the Supported Training and Access to Resources (STAR) program has a laudable record of service aiding persons achieve their highest level of self-sufficiency through employment.

Kafi Dixon, Supportive Services director, who manages the STAR program along with six full-time case managers, says the program is custom-fit for each client. "We try to connect people with services that best fit their needs. We do an assessment and goal planning so we look at their specific situation to address their individual needs.

"Our disabled clients' program works a little differently. Clients are connected with supported employment through Goodwill where they have opportunities to work with specialists, and we search for workplace accommodations for intern appointments."

In the new Shelter House location case managers have facilities to provide skill-building workshops and space to offer partner training. A collaboration with the University of Iowa counseling and psychology program provides instructional programs for Shelter House clients encompassing healthy living; skills for success, housing and self empowerment; and anger and money management.

The new facility also has a commercial-grade kitchen, which provides clients opportunities for foodservice training. "Those who complete the training will be certified to work in culinary fields and employed in restaurants, hotels and other locations," Kafi says.

STAR clients have access to program resources for up to two years including intern placements. The majority of clients who exit the STAR program gain entry-level positions in several industries including foodservice, healthcare, maintenance and factory work.

Shelter House works with local nonprofits to provide clients intern assignments at Crowded Closet, Old Brick Church, Table to Table, Busy Bee Child Care, Hometie Child Care and Crisis Center.

In the last reporting period, STAR served 181 adults (including 29 adults with families consisting of 103 children); of those 114 clients completed individualized training and:

• 92 percent maintain a source of income
• 82 percent attain more permanent housing including transitional housing
• 53 percent participate in the workforce

Category: Partners Project