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January 30, 2014

The San Diego Workforce Partnership funds more than 20 organizations that provide work readiness training throughout San Diego County, including New Haven Youth and Family Services (New Haven). A new pilot program run by New Haven, called Community Connections, serves out-of-school youth ages 18-21 with documented disabilities in North County and is seeing great success. 

Community Connections is a program tailored to meet the needs of the participant, whether it is completing their GED or high school diploma, increasing job readiness skills, assistance with job placement, or applying to post-secondary or vocational programs. New Haven also provides hands-on training in construction, information technology and culinary arts. 

New Haven staff work with participants in small groups and one-on-one in order to help them achieve their personal goals. While the program focuses on career pathways, the goal is to prepare individuals for lifelong success. They also receive access to supportive services (money for childcare, transportation, etc.) that address barriers young adults may face. 

“Jeffrey” is one example of Community Connections’ progress. He entered the program at the age of 20. After high school graduation he struggled to maintain employment and plan for his future. Not only was he a parenting young adult, but his learning disability put him at risk for achieving success. When Jeffrey started Community Connections, he was hesitant and defensive. Through effective interaction and consistent guidance, Jeffrey began to trust and respond positively to staff. Gaining confidence each day, he was able to complete job applications, cover letters and résumés, and he was able to overcome anxiety through mock interviews and critique.

In addition, Jeffrey worked diligently to increase his work readiness skills. His hard work paid off when he received a seasonal position with UPS this past year. While working, he met regularly with his case manager to discuss his position, peer interactions and job performance. After the seasonal position ended, his focus turned to starting college. “Community Connections has done wonders for me,” Jeffrey shared. “The staff is friendly, and they helped me to land a job. I now have the support system I need to be successful. Also, I did not like math before I joined program. Now, I have confidence needed to sign up for a math class at the local college when I never thought I’d go to college.”

For more information about the Community Connections program, visit

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