Supporting Summer Youth Work

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Publication Date
June 9, 2016

Ed note: This post originally appeared in the ACF Family Room Blog. View the original post here.

As summer approaches, we want to highlight the importance of community summer jobs programs, and share a set of resources that may be helpful to community efforts.

A well-structured summer jobs program can provide important benefits to its participants and the community as a whole. First, it may provide the first opportunity for a young person to get a job, learn about the world of work, develop work readiness skills and get a reference for future employment. Second, it may provide a young person with their first opportunity to learn about how it’s possible to save, and why it’s a good thing to do so. Third, it can provide young people and their families with much-needed income. And, fourth, there is evidence that participation in a summer jobs program reduces the likelihood of a young person engaging in risky behaviors, including drug and alcohol use and violence.

At ACF, we’ve emphasized the potential virtues of summer jobs programs throughout this Administration. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, states used TANF funds to create the largest subsidized jobs effort since the 1970s, including a significant youth employment component, and TANF agencies and workforce agencies successfully partnered for summer jobs efforts.

Since that time, we’ve encouraged state and local efforts through a set of letters, technical assistance, webinars, and other initiatives. We emphasize that states, localities, and tribes can use TANF funds to fund their summer efforts; that there can be valuable partnerships with community action agencies; and that young people in foster care can be a particularly important group to prioritize for summer jobs programs.

This year, ACF is encouraging participation in the Administration’s Summer Opportunity Project. This project is a multi-agency effort to provide opportunities and supports to youth across the country, with commitments from businesses, federal agencies, and cities. 

As part of this project, the White House has selected 16 communities as “Summer Impact Hubs” – points of coordinated summer youth employment support from both federal and local agencies. ACF staff are working with federal colleagues assigned as “Summer Ambassadors”, serving as coordinators between the federal government and local community leaders to help facilitate joint resource support.

Summer jobs efforts could be strengthened with additional funding from Congress. The President’s FY 2017 Budget includes proposals for additional resources to connect young people to jobs over the summer and year-round, including repurposing part of the TANF Contingency Fund for such an effort. The $473 million Pathways to Jobs initiative would support work opportunities through subsidized employment for low-income parents, guardians, and youth, including summer jobs for youth.

And, while there is still much to be done this summer, early fall is a good time to begin the planning for next summer. As communities proceed with local implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, we encourage incorporating summer jobs as one component of an overall strategy for helping youth get early experience and succeed in the labor force.

Further resources:
ACF - Using TANF Funds to Support Subsidized Youth Employment: The 2010 Summer Youth Employment Initiative (2011)
Office of Family Assistance - HHS, DOL and HUD Issue Joint Letter Encouraging Summer Youth Employment Efforts (2014)
Peer TA - Investing in Youth and the Community: Summer Youth Employment Programs
The White House - FACT SHEET: White House Announces New Summer Opportunity Project (February 2016)
The White House - FACT SHEET: White House and Department Of Labor Announce $21 Million for Summer and Year-Round Jobs For Young Americans And Launch Of 16 Summer Impact Hubs (May 2016)

Mark Greenberg, Acting Assistant Secretary, Administration for Children and Families

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