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Nonprofits Seek to Restore Funds

Services: Community groups CHARO and PACE say a job training site certification process was inconsistent.

January 12, 2002|LEE ROMNEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Los Angeles City Council recommended Friday that the Workforce Investment Board reconsider its decision to cut funding to two long-standing community organizations that provide job training.

The nonprofit groups--CHARO Community Development Corp. and Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment--failed a rigorous certification process implemented by the WIB to improve service and consistency across the city-wide system.

But four groups that failed the process allege it was inconsistently applied and did not take their performance records into account. Council members Friday expressed concern over those issues and asked the WIB to reconsider its actions.

"Both CHARO and PACE are community-based organizations of long standing with records of excellence," Councilwoman Jan Perry said in support of the motion. "I'm quite dismayed and greatly disturbed by the outcome of this process."

The motion was introduced by Councilman Nick Pacheco on behalf of CHARO but amended Friday by Councilman Ed Reyes to include PACE, which serves the Westlake district. Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, whose Westside district includes Casa de Hermandad--another organization that failed the process--said she would review the matter and consider a further amendment.

Twelve organizations that provide work force services under city contract were certified under the process, which was based on a model favored by the private sector. But CHARO, PACE, and Casa de Hermandad were not. The decision, which the groups will appeal next week to a board of city and WIB officials, means the organizations are no longer eligible for at least $1.6 million each in annual city funding.

City and WIB officials stress that service will not be interrupted to the tens of thousands of clients who use those centers, as other organizations will be selected to take over.

Advanced Computing Institute--a satellite center that does not have a full city contract but had hoped to win one--also failed. But city officials said it can pursue a separate certification to continue offering limited services.

Rather than focusing on numerical results--such as the number of clients placed in jobs--the process selected by the WIB emphasizes the restructuring of organizations to ensure continuous improvement.

"Do placement numbers say how long [the client] had to wait in the lobby, or how many times they had to come back to the center, or whether they were placed in a dead-end job?" WIB Executive Director Michelle Douglas said in support of the standards.

Friday's council action sets the stage for a debate between elected officials and the city-appointed work force board, which share equal power as the result of recent changes in federal law. The WIB's executive committee must now decide whether to comply with the council's request. If it opts not to, mediation could result.

Under previous law, the council and mayor could overrule the board. WIB members and private sector volunteers who spend countless hours reviewing the applications opposed the council's effort to intercede and say it is unfair to the dozen groups that passed.

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