Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays from all of us at The Next Step, Inc. Our offices will be closed the afternoon of Tuesday, December 24 and Christmas Day. Have a safe and happy holiday!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Over the last past year, our staff has been working toward automating processes and making use of technology as the CoFFE! database grows and improves.  To that end, we will no longer be processing paper enrollment forms.  This includes both forms that are mailed to our office and forms sent digitally, via email or fax.

Starting now and moving forward, please direct all individuals interested in enrolling in The Next Step to our online enrollment forms, located here.  Enrolling using the online enrollment forms means that these Candidates will be immediately entered into the CoFFE! database and can be matched using geo-coding technology at the touch of a button.  Another benefit of online enrollment is that many of our digital forms are customized to fit the re-entry trends within different agencies in different regions in the United States.  In addition, failure to successfully enroll applicants due to incorrect or incomplete forms will be a thing of the past.  The online enrollment forms require that each applicant provide the necessary information needed for TNS to create job lead matches upon release.

Thank you in advance for your patience and participation during this time of change.  We believe that this change in methodology will benefit everyone at all levels within the re-entry continuum.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

The offices of The Next Step/WOTC Solutions will be closed Thursday, November 28 and Friday, November 29 for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

New corrections systems are gaining access to CoFFE!, our Cooperative of Felon Friendly Employers every day!

And why wouldn't they?  The Work Opportunity Tax Credit is the only effective tool applicable to all recently released felons finding work, and it's the tool we use to convince employers to give felons from participating agencies/facilities a better chance at finding work.  (Fyi, we have found the federal bonding incentive applicable to all felons in 2013 to actually be a disincentive to hiring a felon.)  The sad truth is that currently very few employers who do hire a felon are successful in obtaining the credit--the best data puts that at less than 1%.  This means the in practical terms the WOTC incentive is badly underutilized toward its goal of helping felons find work.

The good news is we correct that underutilization in areas where corrections systems who join us are working to help their populations find work.  We are proud of this win-win-win-win situation we have developed:

  • Felons seeking work WIN by getting some much needed help:
  • Corrections/reentry staff WIN by getting an innovative, free, and much and needed tool to help them with one of the hardest problems they have to contend with;
  • Employers willing to give a felon a chance WIN by actually getting the financial reward they've earned by being willing to hire that felon;
  • Society at large WINS by motivated workers with a felony on their record more efficiently find employment and begin meeting their financial and familial obligations and staying out of jail! 
If you know of an agency that could use this tool just tell them to check out our website and we will show them how easily they can WIN by joining in!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Is Your Previous Work History Really An Issue?

Every application these days requests information regarding your previous work history. What exactly is this information used for? We think it is to show employers whether or not we have performed specific tasks in the past which we could in turn perform in the open position. But how likely is it that an employer will find a candidate who has had the exact same job description before?

The Next Step encourages employers to not view someone's previous work history in such a narrow manner. Jeff Fluhr, CEO of social video platform Spreecast, has the right idea when it comes to viewing a candidate's previous work history. He looks beyond what the candidate has done and sees the candidate for what they are capable of. During the interviewing process it is important to help employer's see your potential. 

Showing employers you can be adaptable and are self-assured in your abilities to think is what helps break this barrier. Work on growing your confidence one application and interview at a time. 

Leads from CoFFE! are to be worked in person, remember--you may not get hired right away--keep your chin up, have faith in yourself and always remember to be encouraged.

Read more here.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


The Next Step would like to welcome the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction's Adult Parole Authority to CoFFE! As our newest participating member, all of Ohio's releasing felons reporting to Parole are now able to enroll and be matched with employers interested in WOTC eligible labor. This also means the CoFFE! database will be expanding by the day for the use and benefit of any other agencies in Ohio assisting ex-offenders with employment challenges.

As Ohio's employers become more successful obtaining the WOTC credit they will be:

  1. Keeping millions of dollars in the state.
  2. Creating  more jobs by lowering labor costs with WOTC savings.
  3. Creating more tax payers and reducing Ohio's costs for custody and supervision of offenders.
Ohio will see the benefits of The Next Step /WOTC Solutions in every corner of the state and we are pleased to be providing this valuable and useful service.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Welcome U.S. Probation Western District of North Carolina

The Next Step is proud to introduce our newest participating member-- U.S. Probation Western District of North Carolina!

Now all federal probationers in the state of North Carolina will be afforded the opportunity to receive employer leads from CoFFE! our nationwide Cooperative of Felon-Friendly Employers.

During our partnership with U.S. Probation Western District of North Carolina, The Next Step will be actively expanding the CoFFE! employer and Job Candidate database in North Carolina. What does this mean for North Carolina? All Residential Reentry Centers, Transitional Treatment Centers and releasing offenders from Correctional Institutions stand to benefit from our active relationships with thousands of employers who are willing to hire ex-offenders.

Call us today to learn more at 1-888-998-7227.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Closed for Labor Day

The Next Step will be closed Monday September 2nd 2013 in observance of Labor Day. All requests for employer leads from CoFFE! our nationwide Cooperative of Felon-Friendly Employers will be issued starting Tuesday September 2nd 2013. If you have any questions please contact us at 888.998.7227 or visit our website at

Friday, August 23, 2013

Enrolling Online- Save Time!

Have you ever stopped to think about how long it takes to complete paperwork the 'old-fashioned" way? First you have to print out the form, then fill it out, then find a fax number or an envelope and send. Why not streamline your process and save time and energy by enrolling online?

Online enrollment through The Next Step is fast, easy and efficient. With online enrollment you can provide detailed information regarding an offender's job set skills, training/apprenticeship certifications, previous work history and most importantly information regarding what geographical areas they are eligible to seek employment in.

Enrolling online allows The Next Step to quickly match candidates to employers from CoFFE! our nationwide Cooperative of Felon-Friendly Employers. Don't wait for a paper enrollment to be received when you can submit online and receive leads from CoFFE! within 24-48 hours!

Questions regarding enrollments please contact us at 888.998.7227 or by email to [email protected]

Monday, August 12, 2013

Reentry Continuum Success in Arizona

The Next Step's effective and efficient model for reentry success starts during federal incarceration and continues through to supervisory and post release custody. While incarcerated, felony offenders are given the opportunity to enroll for FREE services from The Next Step and upon release to their Residential Reentry Center or to U.S. Probation District, these individuals are eligible to receive free employer leads from CoFFE! The Next Step's nationwide Cooperative of Felon-Friendly Employers. 

With special thanks to our participating Reentry Affairs Coordinators within the Federal Bureau of Prisons Western Region, highly motivated Residential Reentry Center staff from Behavioral Systems Southwest Inc, and now U.S. Probation District of Arizona's Chief Mario Moreno and his team of Officers; The Next Step has brought the "reentry continuum" to life for the use of Arizona's federal offender population. 

The CoFFE! database has significantly grown in the few short weeks this continuum has been in effect. With over 1500 employers within CoFFE! who have hired and/or are willing to hire offenders within the state of Arizona, the community stands to benefit.

We are rapidly developing these continuum  models in other states based upon the current participation of RACs enrolling Job Candidates across the country. If you  would like to see successful results like these in your area, please contact us here and get started today!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Meeting CoFFE! Employers- Dress to Impress

August 7th 2013

For the formerly incarcerated, reentering society can be more than overwhelming. The Next Step can offer our candidates a quick helpful guide to success- especially when it comes to meeting CoFFE! Employers and trying to secure employment. With or without resources, dressing successfully for an interview can stress anyone out. Don't have a suit and tie? No worries! You can still dress to impress and present yourself in a positive manner.

No one says you need to dress like a model to make a good impression. Start with the basics:

1. Take a Shower- Hygiene is important to ALL employers

Whether or not you are applying for an office position or a construction project no employer is going to hire someone who couldn't take the time to bathe before their interview.

If your circumstances do not permit this here is a tip: sprinkling your hair with baby powder and brushing/combing through will significantly diminish the look of oily, greasy hair.

2. Dress Accordingly- Business Casual for any interview

Dressing business casual is always the most casual attire you should attend an interview in. Never wear any item of clothing that is too revealing (you are not going to the gym, hanging out with friends, or going to a night club).

Ladies, never wear shorts and keep skirts at or only SLIGHTLY above knee length.

Gentlemen, leave your muscle shirts at home and exchange it for a button up with a collar that you can tuck in to a pair of slacks.

3. Present Yourself- Confidence and Poise 

You've done your time and now it is time to shine, leave your self-doubt at home! Keep in mind it takes more muscles in your face to frown then it does to smile.

When you are called in for your interview make sure you shake the hand of your future employer and introduce yourself clearly and confidently. Once the interview is compete, if appropriate, shake the employer's hand again and ALWAYS say thank you for their time.


Monday, July 29, 2013

How employers save by hiring from your caseload.

July 29th 2013

Given the current economy, employers today are facing operational and financial worries. From overhead, to employment taxes, to the cost of hiring and training new employees, employers are actively seeking to bring down their cost of doing business. One of the most effective ways to lower a business budget is to cut down on labor costs. WOTC Solution markets to employers all over the country directly to teach them how to save on their tax liabilities. It's a simple solution--hire more!

Obtaining labor at a more cost effective rate by marketing WOTC eligible labor appeals directly to employers' bottom lines. This tax incentive can bring the cost of an hourly employee hired at $10.00/hour down to $7.00/hour at the most expensive time of employment. To calculate hourly labor cost savings with the WOTC credit CLICK HERE to use our labor savings calculator.

The ex-felon WOTC target category qualifiers are anyone within 12 months of conviction or release from supervision of a felony. That includes Probation, Parole, community release centers, federal and state institutions and halfway houses. These job seekers are WOTC- eligible candidates and are a great untapped resource of cost effective labor. By enrolling felony offenders at The Next Step, employers have the opportunity and access to money saving job candidates, up to $2400.00 per qualified employee, and can make smarter bottom line hiring decisions.

What are you waiting for? Enroll your caseload today!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Technology Update!

The Next Step is proud to share with you the latest technological advance for the Cooperative of Felon-Friendly Employers database. By using a customized  Geo-coding technology, CoFFE! can quickly and easily match candidates to potential employers based upon a travel radius (in miles) of any zip code! This opens the opportunity for candidates to choose how far they are able/willing to travel to find gainful employment. Please try out our new enrollment forms at The Next Step Enrollment.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Welcome U.S. Probation District of Arizona

July 15th 2013 
Arizona Enrollment
The Next Step is proud to introduce our newest participating member-- U.S. Probation District of Arizona!

Now all federal probationers in the state of Arizona will be afforded the opportunity to receive employer leads from CoFFE! our nationwide Cooperative of Felon-Friendly Employers.

During this exciting partnership with U.S. Probation District of Arizona, The Next Step will be actively expanding the CoFFE! employer and Job Candidate data base in Arizona. What does this mean for Arizona? All Residential Reentry Centers, Transitional Treatment Centers and releasing offenders from Correctional Institutions stand to benefit from our active relationships with thousands of employers who are willing to hire ex-offenders.

Call us today to learn more at 1-888-998-7227.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Obstacles During Reentry- A Potential Solution?

Source: Navigating The Hidden Obstacles to Ex-Offender Reentry

It comes as no shock to the reentry world that there are many obstacles ex-offenders face on their path to reintegration. From dramatic rates of incarceration to equally staggering numbers of releases each year, there is simply not enough specialization to adequately assist ex-offenders. Author and Law Professor Anthony C. Thompson recently expressed the hidden obstacles to offender reentry. In this unique approach he proposes utilizing the role of the public defender in a more holistic way.

Not only do ex-offenders face hurdles with housing and employment, they have social challenges, family issues and often substance abuse problems. It is from these "collateral consequences" that public defenders have opportunity to help."One possible way to reduce the chaos (during reentry)...would be to have one legal entity serve as the entry point for the offender. That office could then help map a strategy for the offender that might involve working with separate legal and social entities. The offender would thus have a point person from whom he or she could obtain some guidance in the process" (Thompson, pg. 292).

We believe that the best solution to this problem is simple. Employment. When ex-offenders are afforded the opportunity to find gainful employment, they have a greater chance of a full integration to society.With employment, ex-offenders can feel confident in being a productive member of society. They contribute to federal and state tax systems, as well as have the ability to provide for their family and get their affairs in order.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Happy Independence Day from TNS!

         Have a safe and happy holiday!
The Next Step offices will be closed  Thursday, July 4th and Friday, July 5th for the holiday and will reopen on Monday, July 8th.  

Monday, July 1, 2013

WOTC Verification

July 1st, 2013

One of the things we work diligently on at The Next Step is ensuring that the number one tool for assisting ex-offenders with finding employment opportunities is secure. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit is an extremely valuable incentive to employers and enables employers to offer employment.

The letter below is a proposal to the Department of Labor to amend regulations to improve and expedite State WOTC Units processing of Federal ex-offenders.

Introducing The Next Step Blog!

July 1st, 2013


The Next Step (TNS) is proud to introduce our new blog! We invite everyone to subscribe including offenders, their families, and any person in the corrections, social work or reentry fields and  follow along. Please subscribe to start receiving weekly educational information.

The Next Step will offer a wide range of information including employment trends for ex-offenders, statistics, up-to-date legislation, and perspective on developments for the reentry continuum.

We encourage your suggestions for topics and look forward to your  feedback.