Senator Durbin Calls On Labor Department To Continue Funding Youth Job Training Programs In High Poverty, High Crime Areas

“The Best Anti-Poverty, Anti-Crime, Anti-Violence Program Is A Job”

Youth jobs
Source: onesummerchicago.org

WASHINGTON—(ENEWSPF)–July 10, 2017. In response to drastic cuts to federal job training programs proposed in the President’s fiscal year 2018 budget, U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor calling for strong investment for youth training programs in communities with high levels of poverty and violence. Durbin argued that these programs help keep at-risk youth safe, improve their future employment outcomes, and make them less likely to engage in crime.

“Chronic unemployment at a young age decreases potential for employment later in life and increases the likelihood that youth will become involved in the criminal justice system.  In Chicago, and in communities all across Illinois, high rates of poverty and unemployment correlate with higher rates of violent crime,” Senator Durbin wrote Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta.  “Youth job training programs offer an opportunity for young people to escape a vicious cycle of poverty, unemployment, and violence.  The One Summer Chicago Plus youth employment program, which reduced violence by 43 percent among youth participants in 2012, is a clear example of this.  The federal government must continue to build on this success and be an engaged partner in addressing youth unemployment, especially in high-poverty, high-crime communities.”

At a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies last month, Durbin questioned Secretary Acosta about the forty-percent cut to job training programs proposed in the President’s fiscal year 2018 budget. He invited Secretary Acosta to visit Chicago and see firsthand what the Trump budget cuts would mean for the city’s efforts to reduce gun violence.

Durbin recently introduced two bills with Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) that would expand employment opportunities for young people. The HERO for At-Risk Youth Act would provide a tax credit of up to $2,400 for businesses that hire and train youth aged 16-24 who are out of school and out of work and youth aged 16-21 that are currently in foster care or have aged out of the system. The Creating Pathways for Youth Employment Act would establish a five-year, $1.5 billion competitive grant program for youth summer employment and a five-year, $2 billion competitive grant program for youth year-round employment, with fifty percent of funding going to out-of-school youth.

Full text of the letter is available here and below:

July 10, 2017

The Honorable R. Alexander Acosta

Secretary of Labor

United States Department of Labor

200 Constitution Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20210

Dear Secretary Acosta,

As Secretary of Labor, you have spoken about the need to invest in on-the-job training programs.  However, the President’s Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Request significantly cuts federal job training programs, including the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) formula funding that supports youth workforce development.  I urge you to prioritize funding for youth job training programs in areas experiencing high levels of poverty and community violence and that provide our nation’s most at-risk youth with meaningful pathways to long-term employment.

In June, the President signed an Executive Order to strengthen apprenticeship programs that at the same time asked agencies for recommendations to eliminate workforce development programs that are “ineffective, redundant, or unnecessary”.  Notwithstanding the inconsistencies in the administration’s articulation of its workforce priorities, I am deeply concerned about the impacts these cuts will have on youth across the country, in particular youth in underserved communities that rely on federally funded employment programs for economic opportunity.

Chronic unemployment at a young age decreases potential for employment later in life and increases the likelihood that youth will become involved in the criminal justice system.  In Chicago, and in communities all across Illinois, high rates of poverty and unemployment correlate with higher rates of violent crime.  Youth job training programs offer an opportunity for young people to escape a vicious cycle of poverty, unemployment, and violence.  The One Summer Chicago Plus youth employment program, which reduced violence by 43 percent among youth participants in 2012, is a clear example of this.  The federal government must continue to build on this success and be an engaged partner in addressing youth unemployment, especially in high-poverty, high-crime communities.

I support robust investments in apprenticeship programs, but these investments should not come at the expense of other skills development programs that keep youth safe and engaged.  The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Summer Jobs and Beyond Grant program, for example, allowed the City of Chicago to expand its One Summer Chicago program to provide year-round work and skills development opportunities for 300 of the most-at risk youth in Chicago.  I urge you to continue supporting programs like Summer Jobs and Beyond that aim to reduce the number of youth experiencing violence, connect disadvantaged youth to evidence-based job training, and allow at-risk youth to establish long-term career pathways.

Last month, I invited you to come to Chicago to see how the President’s proposed budget cuts will impact job training programs that help youth escape a vicious cycle of poverty and violence.  I encourage you to learn about these programs first hand and meet with youth whose lives have been changed because they were given an opportunity to prove themselves through a job.  I look forward to discussing how DOL can be a strong federal partner in efforts to reduce gun violence.

The best anti-poverty, anti-crime, anti-violence program is a job.  I urge you to ensure the Department’s resources are directed to the urgent problem of youth unemployment, especially in communities with high violent crime rates.

Thank you for your consideration of this important request.

Sincerely,

Source: http://durbin.senate.gov