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Programs that Help Workers

Iowa Workforce Development, in partnership with the Iowa Department of Corrections, has implemented the Returning Citizens Initiative in six Iowa correctional facilities located in Mitchellville, Newton, Mount Pleasant, Rockwell City, Clarinda and Fort Dodge.

The Reentry Workforce Advisors assigned to this initiative network with employers to address the barriers they may have in hiring returning citizens. Each participant in the program completes the National Career Readiness Certification (NCRC) as well as job readiness training.

Thousands of incarcerated individuals are released from Iowa prisons each year. Many of them are eager to get a job and lead a productive life. Without a job, it is nearly impossible for these individuals to establish a new life and become productive citizens. Hiring a returning citizen can help them integrate into society so they can become self-sufficient.

Many employers experiencing labor shortages consider their number one challenge to be identifying, attracting, and retaining employees. To address these needs, employers are increasing their applicant pool by looking at individuals with criminal histories.  These workers can be some of the most dedicated and productive employees. They are overwhelmingly dependable and punctual, and the turnover rate is typically low.

To learn more about this initiative please contact:

Shelley Seitz, OWDS-I
Reentry Operations Manager
(515) 725-3891 or via our online Workforce Services Form



Both the federal and state governments offer tax credits for hiring individuals with a felony conviction. The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) offers a federal tax credit up to $2,400.00 for each new hire that has been convicted of a felony in the last 12 months, or released from incarceration of a felony conviction in the last 12 months.

In addition, the state of Iowa offers a state tax credit of 65% of the wages paid to an individual with a criminal conviction in the first 12 months of employment. The maximum deduction is $20,000.00 per employee. IowaWORKS profiles an employer to understand the specific business needs, which then helps determine the required knowledge, skills, abilities and aptitude when matching an employee successfully with an employer.


Employers who hire individuals with a criminal history may be eligible for the Federal Bonding Program. The Federal Bonding Program benefits the employer by offering fidelity bond coverage provided at no cost. The bond coverage is in effect the day the new employee begins working and continues for a six-month period. The employer profits from the worker’s skills and abilities without taking the risk of potential theft or dishonesty. There are no documents to sign or paperwork to complete. The bond has no deductible and reimburses the employer for any loss due to employee theft within the specified six-month period.


Most jobs require applicants to have a high school diploma or equivalent. The HiSET® exam can assist in achieving a state-issued high school equivalency credential. Many area community colleges offer HiSET. Find a test center near you.


Adult Basic Education is a program that serves students 16 years or older who are not enrolled in school but want to improve their basic skills. It is designed to provide educational opportunities leading to acquiring basic skills, college readiness skills, job readiness skills education, and computer literacy skills.  Iowa’s area community colleges offer Adult Basic Education programs.


Registered Apprenticeship offers opportunities to earn a salary while learning the skills necessary to succeed in high-demand careers. The "Earn and Learn" training model provides a unique combination of structured learning with on-the-job training from an assigned mentor. Related instruction, technical training or other certified training is provided by apprenticeship training centers, technical schools, community colleges and/or institutions employing distance and computer-based learning approaches.