Ready to Work (RTW) is a partnership between the Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS) and the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (KCHFS), Department for Community Based Services (DCBS). RTW is designed to assist low-income parents participating in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)/Kentucky Transitional Assistance Program (KTAP) to enroll and be successful students in Kentucky’s community and technical colleges. The KCTCS/DCBS Ready to Work Program has received several state and national awards and recognitions including: The American Association of Women in Community College's Model Program Award for 2001, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary's Quality of Life Award, the Department for Community Based Services 2007 Community Partner Award and in 2012 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Family Assistance Promising Pathways Recognition.
What began in 1998 as an effort to make additional work-study resources available to TANF (Transitional Assistance for Needy Families)/KTAP students in the community and technical colleges has evolved into a statewide network of 38 Ready to Work and Work and Learn campus-based Coordinators/case managers at 16 KCTCS colleges with more than 70 campuses and a KCTCS statewide Coordinator. These coordinators provide and/or facilitate a comprehensive network of support services including outreach and recruitment, education and career planning and retention strategies, tutoring, case management, advocacy, career coaching, and work study job development, placement and post-placement services. They also assist the RTW participants to access all supportive services (such as transportation and child care) and other resources available through KCHFS/DCBS and other agencies. The Coordinators serve as liaisons between and among the student, the college system and the KCHFS/DCBS local offices and case managers. In 2003, Ready-to-Work services were expanded to include adult basic education students who are working toward their GEDs and high school graduates who are brushing up on some basic skills before entering college. In 2018 RTW incorporated an Essential Skills Training (EST) component to assist former RTW students in their transition to employment and students working to clear a past due balance to continue their education.
The development and support of work-study opportunities remains a major component of Ready to Work. A RTW work study student may work up to 30 hours per week in a TANF/KTAP funded work study placement without impacting her/his KTAP check. The opportunity to place work study students on or off campus with both private sector and non-profit employers helps prepare them for the workplace with experience in their field of study. The student gains resume building work experience and job coaching and retention skills as well as extra income while employers have an opportunity to provide job training and recruit and hire KCTCS students and graduates. RTW Coordinators work closely with students and TANF case managers to assist students in meeting their TANF core participation requirements through work study and expanding their opportunity to remain in college pursing their academic credentials.