Clark County leaders concerned summer youth jobs program may end

A $512,000 summer employment program that provides jobs to about 100 youth could end after this year.

The state has replaced it with a year-round program, but some Clark County leaders are concerned that not as many people will qualify under the new rules.

The Opportunities for Individual Change Summer Youth Employment Program received a contract from the Clark County commissioners. It was funded from May 1 through Aug. 31 and the participants ages 16 to 24 will be placed in a wide range of jobs, including clerical, customer service, culinary, information technology, gardening and labor positions later this month.

The goal for participants is “for them to be able to earn a wage, to learn expectations from employers, continue to build their resumes and also to help identify a career path for them,” said Angela Maroney, OIC director of youth employment services.

But Clark County Department of Job and Family Services Director Ginny Martycz said the summer youth program may be phased out.

Shelly Hoffman, a spokeswoman for the Office of Human Services Innovation with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, said a new year-round program will help young people overcome barriers to employment and position them for long-term success.

“Youth who have been enrolled in the summer program are eligible for and may continue to receive services through the new program at the conclusion of this year’s summer youth program,” Hoffman said.

In fiscal year 2016, the state provided $45 million for youth summer employment programs.

The funding comes from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

In fiscal year 2017, Hoffman said the new program will use both TANF summer youth dollars and Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act funding and integrates those into one program that began in January. Many of the youth that participated in the summer youth program can participate in the new year-round program.

“This was done with the idea that prioritizing resources to better serve the young people with the most barriers to employment. Summer Youth is a valuable program, this gives this population year-round service so they can stabilize their life issues and ensure they get the education and training. That way they not only get a job, but succeed at work,” Hoffman said.

Not all of the current summer youth participants will qualify for the program, but Hoffman said many will.

Lehan Peters, deputy director of OhioMeansJobs Clark County, said Clark County has offered the summer youth program for at least nine or 10 years and OIC has been the primary provider of the program.

It’s unknown how many local participants will qualify for the year-round program, Peters said, or how many people it will able serve.

“There’s an unknown. There’s uncharted waters,” she said, adding that officials are still learning about the new program. “It’s not open for just everyone. They definitely have to eligible to meet our income eligibility guidelines.”

OIC currently works with 35 employers, Maroney said, including Clark State Community College, Sodexo at Wittenberg University, National Trail Parks And Recreation District and Promise Neighborhood.

Maroney doesn’t know how the changes will affect its program.

“They’re combining different funding sources so who knows what changes will come about,” Maroney said.

The current summer youth program has been success, she said. Last year OIC received more than $531,000 from Clark County commissioners for the summer program.

Several participants obtained jobs afterward and continue to work for local businesses, Maroney said.

“They’ve secured year-round unsubsidized employment and not needed the program (anymore). That’s the ultimate goal,” Maroney said.

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