BILOXI, Miss. (July 17, 2017) -- The Women in Construction Program at Moore Community House celebrated the launch of its Strengthening Working Families Initiative and the expansion of the Women in Construction training center at a ribbon cutting on Friday, July 14. The event also highlighted the resilience of the graduates of the Women in Construction program and the dedication of the many partners who have helped make this expansion possible.
The Strengthening Working Families Initiative (SWFI) is a program of the U.S. Department of Labor intended to bridge the gap between the workforce development and child care delivery systems. Among its goals are addressing education and training barriers for low- to middle-skilled parents; increasing access to child care resources; and addressing the child care needs of parents seeking education and training.
Moore Community House, which has been committed to quality child care for more than 90 years and has nearly 10 years of experience in workforce training, was a perfect fit for this initiative. In 2016, Moore Community House’s Women in Construction program was awarded a $3.5 million, four-year grant by the Department of Labor to expand both the services provided and the number of women the program serves each year.
“We have long believed that child care is a critical part of economic and workforce development, and this initiative allows us to put this into practice,” said Carol Burnett, executive director of Moore Community House. “This will change the lives of hundreds of women in our community, while also helping address Mississippi’s continuous need for middle-skilled workers.”
About 400 graduates have completed the Women in Construction program since the first class was held in 2008. The eight-week, full-time course helps train women for careers in apprenticeship and nontraditional occupations, work that typically offers higher pay and more opportunity for advancement than the minimum-wage jobs held by many low-income women in Mississippi.
This grant will allow the Women in Construction program to triple its number of graduates annually, as well as offer new types of classes – such as the program’s first evening class, which starts later this month. And, while the program has always offered case management and support services, it is now able to address the biggest obstacle for women entering into job training and employment: child care.
“During the past nine years, we have seen that child care can be a barrier for many students,” said Julie Kuklinski, Women in Construction’s program director. “Through this initiative, we can now provide child care stipends, along with other supportive services, to our students. These stipends are also available during the job search process, meaning students can study and look for work with the comfort that their child care needs will be met.”
Crucial to the success of this initiative is the support of a number of public, private and nonprofit partners, including the Mississippi Department of Human Services, Mississippi Department of Employment Security, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Ingalls Shipbuilding, Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative, State Workforce Investment Board and the Gulf States Shipbuilders Consortium.
"MDHS is pleased to partner with Moore Community House,” said John Davis, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services. “This initiative lines up with our mission to help families as a whole, and we look forward to seeing the positive impact they will continue to have on the community."
“Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is a long-term partner of the Women in Construction Program, and we look forward to the new Strengthening Working Families Initiative,” said Dr. Jason Pugh, MGCCC executive vice president of Teaching & Learning/Community Campus. “The Women in Construction program and the new initiative share MGCCC’s workforce training and economic development goal of helping coastal residents gain the skills they need for employment in high-demand, high-paying careers. This project is sure to generate successes towards the achievement of that goal.”
“Women in Construction and Moore Community House has a program second to none in preparing women for career success in the trades,” said Mark E. Scott, Manager of Resource Development for Training at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula. “Ingalls Shipbuilding has hired several of their graduates and certainly will continue. They are a valuable strategic partner.”
The Women in Construction program is currently recruiting for upcoming classes. For more information, please visit www.moorecommunityhouse.org/winc.