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Guide to Workforce Services Programs

The Chicago Department of Family & Support Services (DFSS) designates resources for workforce development initiatives to meet the unique needs of disadvantaged Chicago residents. As the City agency that focuses on meeting the needs of Chicago’s most vulnerable residents, this is an important function for DFSS.

DFSS invests in workforce programs for the hardest to serve individuals who are low-income and have limited work skills, with a special focus on three target populations:

  1. Persons with criminal records
  2. Persons who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness
  3. Persons with limited English proficiency

DFSS supports four workforce training models:

  1. Employment preparation and placement
  2. Industry-Specific training
  3. Subsidized work experience
  4. Community re-entry centers

Employment Preparation and Placement Program: Agencies implementing Employment Preparation and Placement programs aim to recruit clients that are out of work or under-employed, provide them with the necessary job readiness training to prepare them to obtain and retain the job, and then support them on their journey from placement to and through at least 180 days of employment. 

Industry Specific Training Program: In an effort to increase responsiveness to Chicago’s businesses, the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS) is providing industry-specific training and placement services.  This approach will focus on specific industries that offer employment opportunities at various skill levels, and clear pathways to progressively higher skill and wage levels within the industry. Programs should be developed in tandem with employers or groups of employers, to address their specific workforce needs.

Our Industry Specific Training Programs offer job seekers a unique training experience in various high-industry areas, like Hospitality, Transportation, Healthcare, Manufacturing and Information Technology.  Job-seekers go through an intensive training program that will better prepare them for the specific industry and then agencies assist them with obtaining and retaining employment through case management services to both the client and the employer. 

Transitional Jobs Program: Transitional Jobs (TJ) programs provide time-limited, subsidized employment opportunities coupled with intensive wraparound services and skills development to eligible job seekers who lack a competitive work history and/or knowledge of the workplace necessary to obtain employment. The subsidized component or the Transitional Jobs (TJ) Program combines real work experience, skill development and support services to help participants overcome substantial barriers to employment. 

Community Re-Entry Support Centers: The goal of the Community Re-entry Support Centers is to provide ex-offenders with a central location where they can receive services and support that are specific to their needs. The Re-entry Support Centers foster the successful re-entry of offenders into communities by providing the tools needed to help individuals avoid engagement in criminal activities and succeed in life. Services will include, but are not limited to, housing including emergency housing, assistance with employment and strategies for presenting a criminal record to future employers, substance use and mental health counseling, information on sealing or expungement of criminal records, family reunification & child support assistance, mentoring including support groups, and education and training.  Services are rendered directly by the contractor or through existing partnerships with other community-based organizations.

Click below to see a listing of currently funded workforce programs for:

  • Returning Citizens/Ex-Offenders
  • People Who Are Homeless or At-Risk of Being Homeless
  • Individuals with Limited English Proficiency
  • Individuals who are Low Skilled/Low Income

Current Funded Workforce Program listing

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Family & Support Services