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  COVID-19: Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services (WDACS) response to the pandemic

 

 

AAA Program Reframing: A Response to COVID-19


AAA Program Reframing: A Response to COVID-19

In response to COVID-19 and following the Governor’s executive order that urged older adults 65+ to stay at home, Los Angeles County Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services (WDACS) quickly reframed its Area Agency on Aging (AAA) programs to meet the changing needs of older adults.  These programs included Elderly Nutrition Program (ENP), Family Caregiver Support Program (FCSP), Supportive Service Program (SSP), Disease Prevention & Health Promotion (DPHP), Health Insurance Counseling & Advocacy Program (HICAP) and Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program (LTCOP).

WDACS waived and changed certain program requirements in consultation with the California Department of Aging, which is the funding agency.  WDACS was able to mobilize resources from these programs and leverage additional funding from the CARES Act, to provide critically needed services.  Accordingly, the number of meals delivered increased from 177,000 in February 2020 to 500,000 in June 2020.  SSP, FCSP, LTCOP, HICAP, DPHP and other services were provided through a remote (online, telephonic, or virtual workshops) service delivery format.  Total AAA program services expanded from 231,500 units in February 2020 to 582,300 units in June 2020.

 

 

Aging Mastery Program (Online Classes)


Aging Mastery Program

The Aging Mastery Program (AMP) is an innovative approach designed to help older adults manage their health, remain economically secure, and contribute actively in society.   AMP is an engagement and behavior change program designed to educate, encourage, and support baby boomers and older adults to take actions to improve their health, finances, and general well-being and to contribute more to their communities and society.

AMP is a ten (10) week program covering a specific topic of discussion each week.  AMP participants have expressed that they are more confident and prepared for the many obstacles that come with getting older.  AMP participants have given the program rave reviews and many have encouraged their friends and family members to participate in future classes.  This program can be promoted as a best practice that can be utilized by others.  The impact has been very positive in all the senior centers who have participated. Graduates of the program have requested additional classes to continue learning.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the classes have gone online with great success.  The first class had 30 participants.  Due to the overwhelming positive responses and requests, additional classes will resume again.

 

 

 

 

Business Town Hall


Business Town Hall

Workforce Development, Aging, and Community Services pivoted the Los Angeles County America’s Job Centers of California (AJCCs) workforce system to conduct business services outreach efforts through weekly virtual Business Town Halls effective March 26, 2020.  Business Services Representatives at our AJCCs conduct these town halls to accomplish two primary goals, which are 1) to make businesses aware of the services available to businesses through our Los Angeles County AJCC system and 2) make businesses aware of additional tools and resources available to them through partner agencies. 

These goals were specifically established to assist local businesses navigate and pivot to ensure business subsistence during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Topics of our Business Town Halls included information on work-sharing, available funding through loans and grants, commercial leases as it relates to the eviction moratorium, legal implications in returning your workforce, Department of Public Health (DPH) operating protocols, and establishing an online business presence.  Guest speakers presented on behalf of their agencies such as, State Employment Development Department, DPH, employment law firms, Small Business Administration, Consumer and Business Affairs, and Google.  WDACS has conducted a total of 21 Business Town Halls to date, with a total of 1,617 attendees.

 

 

 

Careers For A Cause


Careers For A Cause

Careers for a Cause is an 8-week pre-employment program offered by Los Angeles Southwest College to prepare South Los Angeles residents to compete for careers in the Social Services Industry.  Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services (WDACS) successfully trained and placed 23 students looking for career pathways serving individuals experiencing homelessness in December 2019.  Due to the success of the first cohort, in March 2020, WDACS was working with Supervisor Ridley-Thomas' Office, Southwest College, and St. Joseph's Center to offer this training in April 2020 at Southwest College.

However, with the COVID-19 Stay at Home orders, the training program was postponed.  Since then, we have been working to move the training into a virtual and safe environment.  Eighty-four different agency representatives registered and attended the virtual Employer Roundtable.  Over 300 potential participants attended the virtual information session and 201 people submitted applications through an online portal.  Seventy-three individuals were interviewed, and 40 individuals will start the virtual training program August 31, 2020. Through Southwest College and the Supervisor's Office, students will be provided with laptops to be able to successfully participate in the virtual training. 

 

 

Centers On The Front Line Supporting The Community


Centers On The Front Line Supporting The Community

To date the centers have distributed over one million pounds of emergency food to communities throughout the County of Los Angeles and made over 52,000 reassurance calls to the community informing everyone of available resources.  Center staff also assisted the community in applying for CalFresh – through the pandemic they assisted over 80 applicants with CalFresh. At select centers, Utility Assistance was available that helped residents apply for a grant to cover a portion or all their electric and/or gas bills. The centers distributed activity kits to older adults and children in the community.

Older adults’ kits contained a mask, Sudoku, and crossword puzzles; children received toys, board games and crafts.  Everyone eagerly accepted their kits as they adapted to new social distancing norms and stayed home. The centers developed partnerships with Critical Delivery Service, Wider Circles, and the Native American Indian Commission to deliver emergency food to Native American communities and/or home-bound individuals.  Additionally, a partnership with Baby2Baby resulted in a TikTok dance that safely brought the community together and provided toys, resources, and giveaways.  The centers have provided a wide range of essential services through the pandemic.

 

 

 

Disaster Help Center


Disaster Help Center

The Disaster Help Center launched on March 26, 2020, as a direct response to assist both employees and business owners navigate the devastating economic impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on Los Angeles County. Multiple departments came together to design and launch a virtual help center, including a comprehensive website, email response and 100% remotely operated call center.  The call center assists callers with many resources and information on available grants, loans, Unemployment Insurance, CARES Act, eviction moratorium, and various other available opportunities.

The Disaster Help Center is a collaboration between the Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services (WDACS) and the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA).  The Center is staffed by Disaster Service Workers from the LA County America’s Job Center of California, DCBA, WDACS, Treasurer & Tax Collector, Libraries, and Parks and Recreation.  To date, the Disaster Help Center has directly assisted over 15,500 callers.  https://lacountyhelpcenter.org/

 

 

 

Elderly Nutrition Program Expansion During COVID-19


Elderly Nutrition Program Expansion During COVID-19

The Area Agency on Aging (AAA) Elderly Nutrition Program (ENP) provides nutritious meals to Older Adults in 100 Congregate Meal (CM) settings and Home-Delivered Meals (HDM) for older adults who are frail and homebound.  On March 15, 2020, with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and with the State recommended stay-at-home orders for all older adults, the ENP transitioned to home delivery and a few drive-through pick up locations.  All congregate meal sites were closed to ensure older adults practiced “safer at home” orders.


The ENP began providing HDM meals in bulk, five to seven meals at a time, to help minimize risk of exposure to older adults.  Due to “safer at home” guidelines, the demand for HDM greatly increased pushing meal providers capacity to limitation; therefore, the AAA quickly procured additional meal vendors to expand HDM meals to meet the additional demand.  As the result, the number of meals increased from approximately 200,000 meals in February 2020 to over 500,000 a month by June 2020.  As the result of the tireless work of AAA and its contracted service providers consisting of cities, non-profits, and meal vendors, older adults were able to receive nutritious meals while being able to safely stay at home during the pandemic.



Employer Assistance Grant Fund


Employer Assistance Grant Fund

On April 9, 2020, the Los Angeles County Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services (WDACS) launched the Los Angeles County Employer Assistance Grant Fund to provide grants up to $10,000 to local businesses to help support them through the COVID-19 pandemic.  WDACS worked with the State of California and Federal Department of Labor to launch a first-in-the-state program to quickly meet the needs of our small businesses.


With grant funding received from the State Employment Development Department, and in partnership with the Roberts Enterprise Development Fund, WDACS awarded $500,000 to 59 local entities, ranging from local small businesses, non-profits, and social enterprises impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Thirty-nine of the businesses that received awards were minority-, women-, and/or Veteran-owned and a wide range of industries were represented, including Hospitality, Travel, Entertainment, Professional Services, Education, Technology, Legal, Environment, Healthcare and Non-profits. The fund disbursement averted 311 layoffs and retained over $1.5 million in revenue for awarded businesses.



Keep LA Working Initiative


Keep LA Working Initiative

In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, WDACS obtained a COVID-19 emergency additional assistance grant from the State, branded as Keep LA Working (KLAW) Initiative to immediately assist individuals financially impacted by COVID-19. KLAW emphasized supportive services to reduce the financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic by providing essential supports for the County’s most vulnerable households while simultaneously assisting impacted employees through re-employment services. Five hundred and five County residents received $1,800 each to help defray costs associated with necessities such as transportation and housing. Of the individuals served through KLAW, 299 were low income, 94 were basic skills deficient, and 46 were English language learners. In addition, 48 were veterans, 23 individuals with disabilities, and 13 are justice-involved.


Of all individuals served, 185 were older adults over the age of 45 and 316 were women. Overall, the data support the success of the program and validate the effort and dedication put forth by our America’s Job Center of California at the ground level to help their communities when they were most in need and the successful measures WDACS was able to implement to ensure efficiency of our system.



Los Angeles County Great Plates Delivered Program


Los Angeles County Great Plates Delivered Program

On May 7, 2020, Los Angeles County Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services (WDACS), in collaboration with Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Food Security and in partnership with 211 LA County, launched Great Plates Delivered (GPD) program to achieve two goals: (a) Help older adults stay home and healthy during th COVID-19 pandemic by delivering there (3) nutritious meals per day, (b) Stimulate the local economy by helping local restaurants, hospitality, and transportation community get back to work.  The program covers all areas of the County, except where cities choose to implement their own program.


These cities included City of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Pasadena, La Puente, Rosemead, Bell Gardens and Montebello. However, WDACS extended services to the cities that were at capacity for their GPD programs.  Over 5,000 older adults received 842,418 nutritious meals (3 meals per day).  Over 60 local restaurants served meals.  Program costs are reimbursed by the federal and State governments through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

 

Video links, photos and testimonials are attached.

WDACS A/Director Otto Solórzano talking about the Los Angeles County Great Plates Delivered Program:  

https://vimeo.com/428161503?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=

One of GPD restaurants providing testimony:

https://vimeo.com/434778688



New Freedom Transportation-Critical Delivery Services


New Freedom Transportation-Critical Delivery Services

In response to COVID-19 and the State and Federal Safer at Home Initiatives, the Los Angeles County workforce Development, Aging, and Community Services (WDACS) Department’s New Freedom Transportation (NFT) Program expanded its existing services to include the Critical Delivery Services (CDS) Program to provide the delivery of meals, medication, emergency food, and many other vital necessities to older adults 60 years and over, as well as to individuals with disabilities of all ages.


The NFT Critical Delivery Services Program provides FREE delivery throughout all of Los Angeles County 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.  To schedule a delivery, clients may call the NFT hotline at (888) 863-7411, Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. -to 5:00 p.m.  Since April 6, 2020, through a grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the NFT CDS program has provided over 2,000 older adults and individuals to benefit from CDS for their deliveries.  By enabling these vulnerable individuals to benefit from the delivery program, New Freedom Transportation has played an integral role in providing security and hope to these communities, while uplifting and protecting the lives of the entire Los Angeles County Community.


Northrop Grumman Virtual Recruitment


Northrop Grumman Virtual Recruitment

Los Angeles County Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services (WDACS) has enjoyed a very strong partnership with Northrop Grumman (NGC) over the last few years. This partnership has created opportunities for thousands of local residents to secure high-paying jobs in the Aerospace industry. Just as the COVID-19 pandemic struck, WDACS and Northrop were in the process of setting up several large recruitments to meet the immediate employment demands at NGC. With face-to-face meetings being off the table due to the statewide shutdown orders, the WDACS team had to pivot its approach to meet the needs of NGC.


In collaboration with NGC, LA County WDACS and the America’s Job Center of California (AJCC) system, the hiring process was shifted to a completely virtual system.  The AJCCs virtually pre-screened 1,742 people.  A total of 474 people were interviewed, with 362 being hired by NGC.  A total of 69 Veterans were hired through this process. The average starting wage for these new hires is $22.50 per hour.  The team at WDACS have since worked with the NGC and AJCC partners to execute a Veterans-focused recruitment the week of July 27, 2020 prescreening over 150 Veterans with a ultimate goal of hiring 100 applicants from this event. 



Returning Citizens Stimulus Program


Returning Citizens Stimulus Program

Los Angeles County Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services (WDACS) has partnered with the Center for Employment Opportunities, Inc. to connect individuals recently released from incarceration to workforce programs through the Returning Citizens Stimulus program. Participants receive financial support for achieving pre-defined milestones over a sixty (60) day period to improve employment outcomes. Participating individuals will benefit from establishing and maintaining a relationship with WDACS contracted America’s Job Centers of California to access additional resources to secure permanent unsubsidized employment during the COVID-19 pandemic.


To facilitate prompt distribution of resources, participants are issued a pay card and receive payments at enrollment, thirty (30) days and sixty (60) days of participation, for a total of $2,750.  Milestones options will consist of resume writing, interviewing skills development, financial literacy workshops and many others.  Within the first month of the program, 470 participants have been enrolled and have received $308,000 in financial support.




Virtual AJCC Resource Room


Virtual AJCC Resource Room

On April 1, 2020, the Virtual Resource Room (bit.ly/lac2work) was launched on our website, providing links to job search, online education, and community resources related to housing, transportation, and more for job seekers.  Businesses can also find items such as the Business Solutions Portfolio, a broad accounting of all business-related resources in the County. Additionally, a comprehensive list of all online training programs is provided, as well as referrals to technology resources such as computers and other information technology.


Customers can also find the mechanisms to connect directly to one of our America’s Job Centers of California (AJCCs), and a step-by-step guide on how to begin the application process to enroll into one of our workforce development programs.  Since its inception, the Virtual Resource Room has seen over 4,000 unique visitors.  The transition has been especially smooth – our AJCCs have been paperless for approximately two (2) years, using tools such as document imaging technology and electronic sign-in kiosks. Because of both new and existing avenues, our AJCCs have been able to continue providing the employment and training services to which residents have been accustomed to receiving.

https://vimeo.com/405150939

 



Worker Resiliency Fund


Worker Resiliency Fund

The Worker Resiliency Fund provided supportive services to workers in Los Angeles County that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  A total of $410,000 was distributed in the form of $800 prepaid debit cards to a total of 512 workers via a network of 16 trusted community-based organizations.  This program focused on serving the English-language learning immigrant population that may not have received any other assistance.  An additional $400,000 in supportive services were deployed through Los Angeles County’s network of America’s Job Centers of California, assisting an additional 611 workers for a total of over 1,100. 


This supportive services funding helped workers, who had lost most or all of their income due to the pandemic, pay for essentials like housing or transportation during these difficult times.  Support was also available if workers were looking for additional training or education to get a new job.  One recipient shared, “Receiving your supportive services has alleviated those pressures.  I utilized our debit card to catch up on bill payments which prevented our light and gas from being turned off, bought a week’s worth of groceries, made a car payment which saved me from losing my vehicle, made a partial payment to ensure internet services and was thankfully able to purchase a small tablet which my children are sharing to meet their educational needs.”



Worker Resiliency Fund - AJCC Effort


Worker Resiliency Fund

As the COVID-19 public health crisis disproportionately affected underserved populations, Los Angeles County Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services (WDACS) received a grant from the State to serve underserved dislocated workers and adults whose livelihood was impacted by COVID-19.  The funds were obligated only for supportive services to help mitigate potential barriers or provide emergency assistance.  


Focusing on English language learners and other priority populations such as justice-involved, homeless, low income, the funds were provided to Los Angeles County AJCCs to offer these populations with quick and easy emergency relief in the form of payments to essential service needs such as rental and utility assistance.  Participants were eligible to receive up to $800 to use for necessities during the pandemic.  Six hundred and eleven (611) individuals were reached through this program.  Of those served, 226 were immigrants, 233 were English language learners, and 413 low income.  In addition, 273 were basic skills deficient, 62 were veterans, 18 individuals with disabilities, 235 were older adults over the age of 45, and over 347 were women.  The data validates the effort and put forth by our AJCCs providing services to the most in need within our local communities.