Yanina Manolova

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By Suzanne Ma
NEW YORK (AP) _ The hunt for a good job in the midst of the worst recession in a quarter century is difficult.

But when an ex-convict comes looking for work, securing a steady, permanent job is almost impossible, especially if you are a woman.

Female ex-convicts, fresh out of jail and with children to feed, face especially challenges barriers, according to advocates. Many come from chronically unemployed families and are unfamiliar with work and office protocol.

But there is help.

In New York City, there is just one organization that offers housing and support for these mothers and their children, including a job-training program to help them prepare for the job hunt and the work place.

Hour Children works with 50 families in Queens, N.Y.

Johanna Flores spent 4 years in different New York State jails and correctional facilities, starting with Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women. She now works with Hour Children, helping women ex-convicts find jobs with the Hour Working Women Program.

"Discrimination against these women is rampant," said Flores, a 29-year-old mother of 2. "I have been working here for six years and have built up a strong resume and strong skills but I'm still not assured of being employed outside of Hour Children with compensation that coincides with my worth."

New York State has the third largest female prison population in the United States with 6,000 incarcerated women. The great majority have more than one child and will return to their children as their primary caregiver.

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