Tuesday, April 19, 2016


We are pleased to announce the roll-out of a genuinely innovative job-assistance model harnessing the federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), a process that has been in development in Ohio since 2011, beginning with the efforts of Dr. Ed Rhine and former APA Director Sara Andrews. Getting to this point has been something of a tortuous process. But, we think the results will prove well worth the time and effort we have all spent in reaching this juncture.

Simply put, TNS/WS has worked together with re-entry professionals from the ODRC to create a database of “felon-friendly” employers across Ohio.  (Think of it as “Match.com” for those with a felony on their record and employers who have demonstrated a willingness to consider hiring felons.)  The felons’ individual credentials and backgrounds are matched to what the employers captured in the database are seeking in employees using sophisticated proprietary matching software technology.  

This offering is unique for numerous reasons including being able to serve the many thousands of felons Ohio must deal with every year--in fact, this model can potentially serve every one, something no other re-entry employment model can even begin to approach.  And, we’ve figured out how to do this at no cost to the offender seeking work, or the corrections system.  We utilize the badly underused tool of the federal WOTC--those employers who choose to hire us to assist them in actually obtaining the credit underwrite the costs of the service to the benefit of every Ohioan.

One of the reasons for the delayed implementation is the fact that Congress has repeatedly used this law as a political football, allowing it to lapse and then renewing it and back-dating it.  While the way they’ve mismanaged it might be inconsequential to the Wal-Marts of the world, it has made utilizing it in the way our service model was designed cumbersome and difficult.  Thankfully, as part of the federal budget “deal”, in December 2015 President Obama signed the latest renewal into law through the end of 2019, giving this tool the stability needed to do what we are now doing with it under our partnership with the ODRC.  

We are now in the process of coordinating this service with the new case management system called the OCSS which is now being rolled out across Ohio, which will make the delivery of this unique and much-needed service to all Ohio felons and re-entry professionals  far more efficient.

We have the members of the powerful Ohio Congressional delegation to thank for the improvement in the law, many of whom are in attendance, as well as ODRC Director Gary Mohr to thank for that agency’s cooperation.  We also have your Business Re-Entry Summit Coordinator, Ms. Jennifer Boswell, to particularly thank for her many efforts toward reaching this point.    

Finally, we are also pleased to brag that this model is garnering interest from corrections systems across our country.  This interest comes from the breadth of our service in terms of the numbers we can serve, and, from the fact that it comes without cost to the job seekers or the budget-strapped re-entry systems trying to help them reintegrate into society.

We welcome your interest, input and your questions.  Also, we welcome the opportunity to work together to make this good idea a reality for all Ohioans.


Your friends at The Next Step and WOTC Solutions.

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