OJPC & Cincinnati Works
Cincinnati Works has an in-house legal advocate provided by the Ohio Justice & Policy Center (OJPC), James Delaney. His work includes assisting Members who want to have their criminal record sealed and to earn their Certificate for Qualification for Employment (CQE), which lifts a sanction barring those with previous misdemeanor or felony convictions from being considered for employment in a number of fields.
One of many Members who has benefited from the partnership between Cincinnati Works and the OJPC is Christina Watkins. Christina came to Cincinnati Works in 2015 because she was having difficulty finding employment in her previous field of work as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) due to a criminal record. She says, “I’d get offered the job and then called back stating that they couldn’t give me the job because I had something on my record. It was really hard.”
Christina’s passion is in the healthcare field. She says, “I love helping people. I love keeping a smile on people’s face and it makes me feel good.” But after repeatedly being turned away because of her record, she ended up working a series of temporary warehouse jobs and allowed her CNA certificate to lapse. She was unable to make ends meet and required food stamps to support her family.
Upon coming to Cincinnati Works and learning about the legal services offered, Christina applied for her CQE. She enrolled in school to have her CNA reinstated so she could get back into the field. She also felt that she needed to brush up on her interview skills, and our Job Readiness Workshop helped her to do so. She says, “I learned to watch my posture and what I do with my hands. I learned how to greet the interviewer, and also to dress for the interview. Even though sometimes I would wear a suit and feel like I’m overdressed when sitting in a room full of people in jeans and polo shirts, that’s ok because that actually shows them that you went the furthest for the job.”
After graduating from our workshop, Christina began working with James. She says, “James was real down to Earth. I liked working with him. He came to court with me. He was there when I got there.” She continues, “I was really nervous, but the judge granted my CQE.”
Christina accepted a job offer as a CNA just two days after being granted her CQE. She says, “Cincinnati Works helped me get the job by putting in a good word in for me. When I walked in, the interviewer mentioned that I come highly recommended.”
Christina says, “Getting my CQE and this job makes a huge difference in my kids’ lives. I’m their role model. They look at me and everything I do. They even notice if I haven’t been to work in a couple days. So I have to make sure whatever I’m doing is a positive impact in their lives.” She continues, “Getting back into the healthcare field allowed me to show them that you can always get back on that road and go for what you want to do. I have all boys, and I definitely want to make sure they stay on the right track.”