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New Probation Dept. Program Promotes Job Preparedness

Putnam County has launched a new job preparedness initiative within its probation department.

The “Ready, Set, Work!” program is an initiative aimed at empowering probationers with essential job readiness and retention skills. The inaugural class, facilitated by Senior Probation Officer Charleen Effinger, recently graduated from the program, marking a significant step forward in providing those on probation with the tools they need for successful reintegration into the workforce.

“Ready, Set, Work!”, comprising 10 modules and totaling 20 hours of comprehensive training, addresses various aspects of job preparedness such as applications, interviews, understanding employer expectations and overcoming employment barriers. The program is strategically designed to enhance the job prospects and long-term employability of those who have gone through the criminal justice system, recognizing the pivotal role employment plays in reducing recidivism.

“Empowering these individuals with job readiness skills is a crucial step toward their successful reintegration into society,” said Putnam County Executive Kevin Byrne. “This program not only offers practical skills, but also instills confidence and a sense of purpose in individuals who are striving to rebuild their lives. I commend Director (John) Osterhout and everyone in the Putnam County Probation Department for their commitment to fostering positive change in our community.”

Osterhout said the “Ready, Set, Work!” program exemplifies the county’s dedication to giving people the tools they need to break the cycle of recidivism. “We are committed to continuing this program and expanding its reach, making a positive impact on the lives of more individuals seeking a second chance,” he said.

Effinger, a dedicated 15-year veteran of the department, spearheaded the program. Her certification as a workforce development specialist from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services Office of Probation & Correctional Alternatives in February 2023 positioned her as a catalyst for positive change in the lives of probationers.

The first cohort of graduates praised the program’s impact, describing it as life-changing.

By helping participants recognize their strengths, interests and talents, the program fosters a sense of self-discovery and personal growth. Collaborations with local entities – including Key Bank, a local attorney for mock job interviews and the Putnam County Workforce Partnership – enhance the program’s effectiveness and offer participants additional resources for success.

The Putnam County Probation Department plans to build on the success of the “Ready, Set, Work!” program and offer it on an ongoing basis. With the aim of starting the next session in the coming months, the county said it remains steadfast in its commitment to providing justice-involved individuals with opportunities for growth, self-improvement and successful reintegration into the workforce.

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