Talbot Hall Residential Reentry Center focuses on vocational services

Vocational training is a critical element of successful reentry. Talbot Hall in Kearny, New Jersey, is a residential reentry center that proudly carries on its tradition of providing vocational training to residents with the introduction of two new resident seminars that took place this summer. The assessment and treatment center accommodates up to 500 male residents referred from the New Jersey Department of Corrections. GEO Reentry Services provides a full program of evidence-based reentry treatment services at Talbot Hall through its contract with Education and Health Centers of America.

Sheila Leonardo, EHCA’s director of Talbot Hall, is always on the lookout for ideas that will increase residents’ chances for a successful return to the community. Ms. Leonardo supports vocational training as an important element in a successful transition, believing that having a means to employment is a key tool to combat a return to criminality.

“We have seen many residents take the vocational training that began at Talbot Hall and continue to build on those skills upon release, resulting in employment and lifelong careers,” she said.

Two new peer-facilitated seminars have recently joined the curriculum of vocational training: Floor Waxing/Buffing and Introduction to Pesticides. Peer-facilitated seminars are taught by residents who are licensed or certified in the field they plan to teach or volunteers from outside professional services. These seminars have been very successful at Talbot Hall to introduce residents to career options and provide basic knowledge of a trade.

Floor Waxing and Buffing is taught by a representative from a vendor who commits to volunteer hours. The class introduces residents to using buffing equipment, use of chemicals and safety practices. Fifteen residents successfully completed the seminar, receiving a certificate of completion. An added bonus of the seminar is a contact that will help secure employment upon release for individuals willing to work.

The Introduction to Pesticides seminar was taught by a resident licensed to work in the field, who submitted a request to share his knowledge to help fellow residents. Ten residents completed the class that took place one hour per day that taught pest control, state regulations, laws, toxicity, safety, storage and disposal and record keeping.

The center will or has offered a number of other vocational programs, such as a Commercial Driver’s License class, Introduction to Kitchen Work class and a Boiler Operator’s class, which resulted in 73 former residents attending educational classes in the community to attain licensure.

Talbot Hall is extremely proud to continue to provide vocational training as part of their comprehensive reentry programming that is helping make a difference in reducing recidivism by releasing individuals with viable skills for sustainable employment.