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Thursday September 9

Hatboro Auto Body Training Center Helps Those In Need

The Hatboro Auto Body Technology Center (HABTC) is a first of its kind welfare-to-career training program that offers free auto body training and guaranteed employment to the TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) population within Bucks, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties in Pennsylvania. HABTC has graduated 26 students into full time employment since it began in 2002. The program graduates another class of students on September 30, 2004 and begins a new session on October 8, 2004.

The graduating class is made up of eight men and women who have spent the last four months in a 5,000 square feet training center located in Hatboro, PA. The forty-hour per week program offers a progressive curriculum with state-of-the-art tools and equipment. The staff of four engages students in a variety of skills vital to the auto body industry such as: welding, painting, assembly, disassembly, collision repair, refinishing, detailing and life skills. Mimicking a real auto body shop, HABTC has easily and rapidly facilitated graduates into full time employment.

Strong case management provides weekly intensive counseling during training and up to one year into employment, which helps clients to overcome any obstacles and maintain self-sufficiency.

There is a definite need for this program. The Census Bureau released data on August 26, 2004 that indicates the number and percentage of Americans living below the poverty line increased for the third consecutive year in 2003. The data reports that more then one in every three poor people in 2003 were children. Poor families are defined as those with yearly cash incomes of less than $14,680 for a family of three.

A 2004 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study reveals that 32 percent of poor households with children experienced food insecurity at one point of the four-month survey. In a year’s time, 15 percent of poor families had their phone disconnected, 29 percent did not pay a gas, oil or electric bill, and 18 percent missed one or more rent or mortgage payments. Finally, in the first seven months of 2004, 2.2 million jobless workers exhausted their regular unemployment benefits without qualifying for further financial aid. This is the largest statistic for any seven-month period on record.

Responding to segments of area communities hit hard with economic hardship like those described above, HABTC has chosen to give back by reducing public assistance claims, improving quality of life for low-income families, and raising the bar for welfare training.

Developed to meet the needs of men and women in need of skilled training, an industry that is in constant search of qualified employees and a welfare system that is looking for programs that have a track record of client self sufficiency, HABTC has tapped into and delivered successes to all three components.

HABTC has results that include 100 percent placement into full time employment for all graduates with a minimum wage at $10.50/hr with benefits. The program provides training and employment to men and women with minor children. Past students have included high school dropouts, ex-offenders, and those in homeless shelters or transitional housing.

Postgraduate success stories include paying off debt, securing a car, affording a down payment on a first home, and most importantly, getting off welfare.

Case Manager Michele Soncini says, “One student has even said that after graduating from this program and beginning employment, he finally earned respect from his children.”

For more information, call the Case Manager, Michele Soncini, or Executive Director, Mindy Shoengold at 215-956-3866.

©2004 Collision Repair Industry INSIGHT
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