A recent Gallup study found that feelings of self-esteem and self-worth closely align with successful employment, with 16.6% of unemployed Americans reporting feelings of depression as compared to 5.6% of those who work full time. While not everyone has the ability to work, for those who can, a job can provide financial security, structure, and an enhanced sense of worth and belonging.

This week the Board passed a motion brought by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Hilda Solis to create a pathway towards employment for LA County residents already involved in the County system. The motion directs the Los Angeles County Department of Human Resources to work with County departments in a coordinated effort to establish the Countywide Career Pathways Plan. This plan aims to recruit, hire, and train people involved in the county’s safety net programs who often face high barriers to employment.

The program will include a particular focus on residents who are currently receiving or have recently received services, including:

  • Single mothers participating in CalWORKs/GAIN
  • Young adults transitioning out of the foster care and juvenile justice systems,
  • Women and men coming out of detention facilities
  • Residents receiving homeless services
  • Others receiving safety net services.

These residents tend to have fewer job opportunities than most, leading to further reliance on County programs. These services play an essential role in helping these populations, but they cannot, by themselves, lift families and individuals out of poverty. The Countywide Career Pathways Program will couple county services and programs with strategies to connect to employment opportunities.

“LA County is the largest employer in the region — providing good quality, family-supporting wage jobs that offer a ladder to the middle class. This Board has worked to increase economic opportunity and advance employment equity for all residents of Los Angeles County. By implementing the Countywide Career Pathways Program, we’ll provide even more realistic opportunities for life-changing careers — empowering and uplifting some of our most vulnerable residents.” Kuehl said after the vote.