What is the Peer Counselor Program?
Unemployed workers are often in a state of emotional upheaval, and contact with someone familiar, such as a respected coworker or former coworker, can be reassuring. Apprehension over choosing from available services, filling out forms, taking assessment and placement tests, and meeting time deadlines can be minimized by providing dislocated workers with one of their peers to assist them in accessing available programs.
One of the key ingredients in assisting unemployed people is participation from the group that has been laid off. Using federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funds, the Peer Counselor Program was developed by the Illinois AFL-CIO to maximize participation and provide assistance to the affected local union in identifying and selecting appropriate "Peer Counselor" candidates.
Peer Advisors are hired by the Illinois AFL-CIO Peer Outreach Program, and ideally have familiarity and credibility with the affected workers (such as a union steward). They serve in full-time, temporary positions and appointed for three months, with the option of extension depending on the layoff status and participation level.
The Illinois AFL-CIO works with DCEO and the local Local Workforce Investment Areas (LWIAs) in implementing a consistent yet flexible, statewide system of hiring and utilizing Peer Counselors in most closings or layoffs affecting 100 people or more. The overall goal of the Peer Counselor is to assist dislocated workers and to make the transition to meaningful employment as smoothly as possible.
Duties of Peer Counselors
- Maintain working knowledge of all programs and services provided by the LWIA and its service deliverers.
- Compile and maintain lists of all workers including name, address, social security number, and other appropriate information.
- Track each worker after termination utilizing a tracking method compatible with LWIA information requirements and information forms.
- Advise and motivate affected workers to utilize Workforce Investment Act programs and services.
- Assist workers enrolling in programs by helping to fill out forms and obtaining requested information.
- Assess progress of workers, watch for signs of stress, and make referrals to appropriate services to ensure program completion. Monitor program attendance and remedy poor attendance.
- Function as the worker advocate to ensure all appropriate services are available to them
- Complete training on the local WIA Delivery System so as to understand and be able to explain to their coworkers how it functions.
- Gain a working knowledge of the various local social service agencies so that they may make appropriate referrals to those agencies.
For More Information
For more information regarding the AFL-CIO Peer Counselor Program call (217) 544-4014.