Community Action Agency addresses chamber

Published 10:31 am Friday, March 17, 2023

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During a recent meeting, the Harlan County Chamber of Commerce was informed about some of the programs available at the Harlan County Community Action Agency (HCCAA).

HCCAA’s Workforce Director, Jill Blevins, provided the update.

“I work with WIOA, that’s Workforce Innovations Opportunity Act,” Blevins said. “When I found out about the program 13 years ago, I thought that’s the best kept secret in Harlan County.”

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According to Blevins, the program has been in operation since the 1980s.

“One of the things we do is provide services to those who’ve been laid off from their job, dislocated workers or adults who are looking to go back to school,” Blevins said. “We can provide tuition assistance and support services to help ensure they make it through.”

Blevins mentioned the existence of the program usually spreads through word of mouth.

“One of the things we provide is a youth program,” Blevins said. “We work with 18- to 24-year-olds…We provide them with work experience. We try to place them somewhere with what they want to do. We do an entrance assessment with them and work with employers throughout the county, and they get to work for 480 hours.”

Blevins said the participants in the work program earn $10 per hour.

“Sometimes, it turns into a full-time position,” Blevins said. “Other times they come back to us after the work experience is over, and hopefully, we can provide some training for them and help them further their education.”

Blevins said the program also serves individuals with disabilities, who are homeless, have no high school diploma or GED, or may have criminal offenses in their past.

“We provide wraparound services too. We can assist with that housing,” Blevins said. “We can help with transportation. A lot of our clients don’t have transportation, so we pay for our transportation department to transport them to a job.”

Blevins said the HCCAA services are free to the participants.

“We provide resume writing, job search, we have soft skills training, mock interviews, and we have workshops that we provide,” Blevins said. “Our goal is to help.”

Blevins said the HCCAA also provides things such as ethics training.

“Our goal is to help them be self-sufficient,” Blevins said. “We have provided tuition assistance for a countless number of nurses…Last year, we had six coal miners who became nurses. We assisted them for two years.”

Blevins also talked about the HCCAA’s on-the-job training programs.

“Those are for youth or adults,” Blevins said.

Blevins explained the HCCAA also works with employers in some cases.

“The employer has to submit an application to EKCEP (Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program),” Blevins said. “It depends on the position.”

Blevins also mentioned other services such as the incumbent worker training program, an insurance adjuster training program, and other services.

For more information on the Harlan County Community Action Agency and its available programs, call 606-573-5335 or visit its website at