Clark County youth jobs program that faced elimination to continue

By the numbers

$530,000: OIC funding for fiscal year 2017 year-round employment program

$512,000: OIC funding for TANF Summer Youth Employment Program for 2016

100: Approximate number of participants in the Summer Youth Employment Program in Clark County

Sources: Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Clark County

Staying with the story

The Springfield News-Sun has written extensively about changes to the summer youth employment program since it was first announced earlier this year.

A $45 million Clark County summer youth employment program that faced possible elimination will continue next year as part of a new, $100 million Ohio program.

The annual three-month summer youth jobs program — which employed 14,000 youth statewide and about 100 in Clark County — was expected to be eliminated as part of the creation of a new year-round, comprehensive case management program, Ohio Job and Family Services Directors’ Association Joel Potts said.

>> MORE COVERAGE: $500K-plus Clark County jobs program changing

However, the youth program will be coming back as a component of the new initiative, Potts said.

“It was a big loss in real work experience,” he said. “We’re thrilled.”

Earlier this year, Opportunities for Individual Change of Clark County received four contracts to provide services for the new program, which will affect 16- to 24-year-olds who qualify for assistance, Clark County Department of Job and Family Services Director Virginia Martycz said.

The new youth component will likely be competitively bid, Martycz said. She’s hopeful the program will receive the same amount of money it has in the past.

“We’re excited to see any funds come back that will help support our youth,” Martycz said. “It helps build a good skill set for youth at an early age and provide them motivation to continue.”

>>RELATED: Clark County leaders concerned summer youth jobs program may end

The state’s Comprehensive Case Management Program was proposed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich as part of the most recent state budget process and began July 1. It allows youth who are finishing or have completed high school and need more skills to apply for quality jobs, Martycz said. Some of the services include tutoring, mental health services or post-secondary training.

Since it was announced earlier this year, local counties have been working with Statehouse officials to move forward with both the case management and summer youth programs, Potts said.

Last month, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Director Cynthia Dungey announced the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Summer Youth program would continue as part of the new initiative. It will now be year-round and serve teenagers as young as 14, according to an e-mail Dungey sent to county job and family services directors in Ohio.

The expanded program will allow youth to begin receiving services earlier and year-round, which will allow them to become job-ready once their finished with school, Potts said. It’s more of a career development program that will include assessments, mentoring and tutoring.

“It’s a really big deal, especially in metropolitan communities,” Potts said. “It makes it a better program, but it will be different. Some people will benefit more and others will decided it’s not for them.”

The youth employment program has been in place for a decade, Potts said. Companies are always asking for employees who are work ready, he said, and often ask for some students to return after a successful experience. Local DJFS agencies were concerned about losing connections with employers, Potts said.

“It’s been very, very successful,” he said. “It’s successful for the youth and businesses of the community. It’s a great way to build resumes and provide job experience.”

The new case management program still has some kinks to be worked out, OIC Director Mike Calabrese said, including meeting performance standards and matching youth with proper employment. They’re currently working with about 40 people, he said.

“It can drill into all the challenges in their life so they can be dealt with and fixed before they go into employment or a career,” Calabrese said.

OIC expects to re-bid on the for youth beginning at age 14, he said. The organization has had success mentoring students at Hayward Middle School, he said.

“You can’t have enough programs for kids who are left on the fringes,” Calabrese said. “The more programming available, the better served they are.”

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