In the State

The Youth Take To The Capitol: Call On Legislators To Protect Summer Jobs Program For High Risk Students

According to Rafael Santiago, a youth leader representing the Hartford Promise Zone, students are already being prepared for summer jobs that may not exist anymore — that’s why a group of 19 through 21-year-olds took to the capitol on Thursday, in a bid to save thousands of youth summer jobs that may be on the chopping block.

“It’s very important that we keep this program funded,” said Santiago. “We spoke to several representatives who quoted that they are working to keep our budget safe… but we’re still not satisfied with what we need to hear”

The Summer Youth Program provides state funding for jobs and job training for economically disadvantaged young people.

While state leaders seemed to agree that these programs are important, they were also non-committal. Which is a big problem because programs in many towns were either about to begin or already began when they got the news. Even if the state acts in the eleventh hour, it will be difficult for providers.

Vicent Hatten, who went through one of the summer jobs programs in Hartford, says the program is important because it helps keeps kids off the streets.”We have an issue with violence in our community,” said Hatten. “Kids need to find a way to make money because if not, they’re going to find other ways.”

He said part of the reason he came out was that he was worried that the program won’t be around for his brother, who was supposed to start this year.

The budget (and summer jobs) are currently in limbo

Right now, the state budget is in limbo. The fiscal year ends on July 1st, and while state Democrats have come up with a budget plan, they’re not set to vote on it until July 18th. This leaves programs like the Summer Youth Jobs program unfunded.

According to legislators who spoke with Santiago, Hatten and others, they’re still not sure if the Youth Employment program will be saved as budget negotiations are still underway — if you’d like to check out the discussion, here’s a video of Representatives Bruce Morris, Chris Rosario and Ezekiel Santiago speaking with young people yesterday on the program:

What do you think?

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