Funding for a state program that provides summer jobs to low income youth is on the table in the Massachusetts legislature. Governor Deval Patrick’s administration is seeking extra funding for this summer and next year.
The YouthWorks program subsidizes summer jobs for young people in government, non-profits, and the private sector. It employed over 4,700 low-income youth aged 14 to 21 last summer. For many participants, it’s their first ever job experience. Joanne Goldstein is the state secretary of Labor and Workforce Development. She says testimonials of past participantS have demonstrated the program’s benefits.
“The wages they earned over the summer made a difference in their family’s ability to eat, to pay the rent, not just to buy things that teenagers love to buy. And we have found that it does provide skills for young people to learn how to work in the workplace, and obviously it keeps them busy all summer, which is a good thing too.”
Goldstein says the program currently has $1.4 million in the bank, but Governor Patrick has requested an additional $11 million in this year’s supplemental budget to fund the program this summer. Senator Stephen Brewer, Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, says he supports YouthWorks. He says the supplemental budget should pass in time for the program’s early July start date.
“I would hope that we can get this money out and get these young people working prior to summer vacation.”
Both the house and senate voted to fund YouthWorks in their respective budgets for the next fiscal year. The house gave it $5 million, while the senate proposed $9 million. The budget is headed to conference committee, where lawmakers will likely work out a compromise.