February 7, 2000                                                                                                      Lisa Gallon at (615) 313-4728 or
                                                                                                                                   Steve Sparks at (615) 313-4760

DHS Presents Families First Employer of the Year

NASHVILLE Earlier today, the Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS) recognized 16 Tennessee employers who have demonstrated outstanding support of the Families First program by helping participants make successful transitions into their companies and remain on their jobs.

Families First is the state's welfare reform program that emphasizes work, job training and education for able-bodied adults receiving public assistance. State Human Services Commissioner Natasha Metcalf and the Governor's Chief Administrative Officer Eleanor Yoakum presented the two statewide Employers of the Year Awards and 16 regional awards during a special luncheon held in Nashville on Monday.

"With the tremendous support of these employers and others in the business community, Tennessee has been recognized as one of the nation's most successful welfare reform programs. Many businesses have come forward to help us develop job specific training programs for Families First participants. Many companies are not just hiring participants, they are taking the extra steps to make sure the people hired will be successful in their companies," Metcalf said.

The top two state Employer of the Year Award recipients are Convergys of Clarksville and The Peabody Hotel of Memphis.

Convergys, named the 1999 Large Employer of the Year, has hired more than 30 Families First customers. The company has demonstrated its commitment to the program by working with the local transit system to address transportation needs of participants.

The famous Peabody Hotel, named the 1999 Small Employer of the Year, is the first company to participate in the new Families First Leadership Development Training Pilot program offered by the Work Place and DHS. This training is designed to help supervisors and managers strengthen their ability to improve the retention rates and productivity of hourly employees, particularly Families First participants. The Peabody has approximately 10 participants who are currently employed.

Several other Tennessee companies received district awards that went to the top large and small employers in an area. The district awards represent the eight DHS districts or regions across the state. The businesses receiving these awards included: Sears, Roebuck & Co. (Oak Ridge); Norrell Services (Johnson City); Goody's Family Clothing (Knoxville); Interim Personnel (Knoxville); Hutchinson FTS, Inc. (Livingston); Hobbs Staffing Services, Inc. (Dayton); Cigna (Chattanooga); Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel (Chattanooga); Convergys (Clarksville); General Care Convalescent Center (Clarksville); V.A. Medical Center (Nashville); Express Personnel (Nashville); Corrections Corporation of America (Whiteville); Forest Cove Nursing Home (Jackson); Baptist Memorial Health Care (Memphis); and The Peabody Hotel (Memphis).

The statewide winners, Convergys and The Peabody Hotel, also received the top district awards.

Local Families First Advisory Councils nominated approximately 120 companies for their outstanding practices within their counties.

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