The TRICOR Experience – A Workforce Development Model in Correctional Industries

By Susan Cunningham, OWDS, Director of Offender Development & Transitional Services and Molly McIntosh, OWDS, Manager of Field Services

TRICOR has established a workforce development model that guides the training and development of our offender workforce. This model has evolved over the last few years to utilize evidence based practices to ensure the most current and comprehensive training is provided. The TRAILS (Transitional Readiness and Improving Life Skills) Program encompasses the entire TRICOR experience.

The program has several objectives:
• To instill in offenders the value of work through supervision, training, and coaching
• To promote rehabilitation through meaningful occupational skills training and work
• To train offenders in the performance of daily tasks in order to optimize industry,
service, and farm operations
• To prepare offenders for post-release job placement and continued employment in
the community
• To assist with career development
• To promote successful living
• To make communities safer
• To reduce recidivism

TRAILS ~ an 18 month pre-release and one year post release program that supports systematic learning and development for each offender.

Phase One:
Recruitment and Intake Screening for TRAILS Program Participation (Recruiting process is ongoing.)

Phase Two:
Assessment, Evaluation, Continued Screening & Preparation for TRAILS Program

Phase Three:
Participation in Occupational and Life Skills development for improved knowledge, skills, and abilities

Phase Four:
Referrals, Coordination, & Collaboration of Post Release Services for Successful Reentry

Offenders who complete the program become eligible to receive full post-release services.

TRAILS ~ the program components

Orientation introduces the offender to the overall TRICOR experience and how to become a successful member of a workforce through a career development focus. During this six hour class, TRICOR’s mission and programs are discussed along with workplace behavior, practice, and safety. In addition, the importance of work in people’s lives is reviewed. Offenders’ occupational interests are identified and the TRICOR Successful Living Plan is unveiled. TRICOR’s Transitional Team teaches this class. The Orientation curriculum was developed by TRICOR staff and is based on the offender career development model taught by the National Institute of Corrections.

Successful Living Plan
The Successful Living Plan teaches offenders to develop and evaluate both personal and professional goals. The entire process can be used for career development, release planning, and other case management concerns. The plan gives offenders the opportunity to strive for successful living while incarcerated and to continue on this path after release.

Occupational Skills Training
TRICOR’s occupational skills training (OST) is the program component that gives offenders the opportunity to learn useful job skills and good work habits through demonstration, instruction, and practice in an actual work setting.

OST emphasizes three types of skills which transfer to a variety of jobs in the community after an offender returns home:

Basic Universal Occupational Skills – Participants learn listening and oral communication skills, on the job safety, how to use tools, occupational terminology, and other behaviors required to keep a job, such as creative thinking, decision-making, and

Specific Occupational Skills – These are the specific activities, tasks, operations,
experiences and technical skills required to perform a particular job.

Job Readiness Skills – These are the skills, attitudes, and understandings essential for
success in the world of work. Job readiness training addresses the attitudes and
behaviors that employers seek in their employees, such as integrity, dependability,
teamwork, responsibility, and self management.

Performance Evaluations
Performance evaluations are conducted every six months by the worksite staff. This gives offenders the opportunity to review their progress in mastering the activities, tasks, and transferable skills associated with their jobs.

Life Skills Curriculum
Unit One of the Life Skills curriculum is TRICOR’s 18 hour Pre-Release Life Skills class on finding and keeping employment along with reentry and successful living. Included in the employment readiness components of the curriculum are:
• Job seeking skills
• Job interviewing skills designed for former felony offenders
• Resume writing skills
• Strategies for overcoming employment barriers
• Job retention skills

The additional chapters are devoted to reentry and successful living and emphasize actions and behaviors needed to enter the job market and manage reentry barriers. All class members receive a TRICOR Life Skills Manual which was developed by TRICOR in partnership with the National Institute of Corrections.

Unit Two of the Life Skills Curriculum is the National Institute of Corrections’ “Thinking for a
Change” class. The goal of this 22 session course is to effect change in thinking in order to impact behavior positively. Putting it simply: Thinking controls behavior and if people can take charge of their thinking they can take control of their lives. The course is divided into three parts: social skills, cognitive self-change, and problem solving.

TRICOR Offender Preparedness Services
Funded by a JAG/Byrne AARA Grant, offenders are provided with enhanced personal and career development skills through the delivery of Life Skills modules and access to a worksite career center where Participants explore their occupational interests while improving their computer skills. Enhanced post-release follow-up is provided.

Transition Assessments
Transitional assessments are performed for eligible participants who are returning home. The assessments underscore strengths and identify areas that may still need special attention.

Other Transitional and Post-Release Services
The TRICOR Transitional Team collaborates with the offender to map out a plan for a successful return to the community. With the aid of the offender’s Successful Living Plan, performance and transition assessment, appropriate job leads and additional career development resources are identified. The staff also provides information about support groups, social services, health care, and housing resources, making any appropriate referrals for other services. After release, the staff stays in contact with the offender for at least one year offering support and other case management services.

Last year TRICOR served over 1,500 men and women who participated in the TRAILS Program. If you would like further information about the TRICOR TRAILS program, please contact Susan Cunningham at (615)741-5705.