Politics · June 3, 2021

Connecticut Governor: Expansion of Youth Employment Program

Additional COVID-19 Relief Funding Brings Total Investment to $7.7 Million

HARTFORD, CT (STL.News) Governor Ned Lamont announced that additional youths this year will be able to benefit from the expansion of the Connecticut Youth Employment Program, which provides year-round employment opportunities for youths across Connecticut with community-based agencies.  The additional $2 million will bring its total investment to $7.7 million and will be spent to support the program with services like transportation, food support, and other items that will decrease barriers to participation.

The investment comes from Connecticut’s portion of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act – also known as the CARES Act – and is in addition to the $5 million the state previously allocated for the program, which is administered by the Connecticut Department of Labor.  The Youth Employment and Training Collaboration, a partnership between the Connecticut Department of Labor and the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, is also funded at $710,000, giving the program a total of $7.7 million this year.

“The Youth Employment Program helps our young people gain employment during this difficult time and experience the working world,” Governor Lamont said.  “That’s a win, not only for our economy but our future workforce, young jobseekers, and businesses, as well.  Each year through this program, hundreds of businesses in our state get thousands of hours of subsidized work and the chance to mentor or coach tomorrow’s leaders.  Our youth employment programs are an excellent way to start the next generation of workers on a meaningful career path, while also putting dollars in their pockets.  I want to thank Connecticut’s Congressional Delegation for their support of this funding to states during this critical time, particularly for young people.”

“Now more than ever, it is crucial to help support the youth of Connecticut as they look to join the workforce,” Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz said.  “These programs will provide the tools our young people need to succeed by increasing youth leadership and improving both job readiness and economic stability.”

“This program offers meaningful job opportunities to young people, helping them build networks, gain experience, and improve their resumes,” Connecticut Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby said.  “It is our hope that this program will also introduce young people to the important work being done on the ground by our community health partners, and open new career opportunities for them. I applaud Governor Lamont for expanding funding during a vital time.”

Governor Lamont announced the expansion of the program during a news conference this morning in Hartford at Our Piece of the Pie, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering youth with key competencies needed to overcome barriers and succeed in education and employment.

“This expanded investment in the Connecticut Youth Employment program couldn’t come at a more crucial time,” Hector Rivera, CEO of Our Piece of the Pie, said.  “Young people are a critical resource toward strengthening our communities and they will need additional support to process and move forward after the challenges of the last year.  These programs allow organizations like Our Piece of the Pie to become change agents – supporting youth with wage-earning opportunities to develop the skills for successful employment and careers today and become the successful adults and community members of tomorrow.”

The Connecticut Youth Employment program runs year-round and is implemented by the state’s five Workforce Development Boards to increase youth leadership, improve job readiness, and improve economic stability.  The 2020 program year was funded at just over $7.6 million and served more than 2,300 young people through December of 2020.  The initiative will support the state’s reopening efforts.

The additional funding will provide mental health trainings for youth workers and case managers;  and expand support services like transportation and food assistance.  The program will expand youth peer mentors, youth outreach, and employer engagement specialists to remove barriers to participation – especially for marginalized youth – and build in equity and inclusion.

Some opportunities include:

  • Virtual outreach through social media to promote safer health practices;
  • Delivery of educational materials to community and other organizations;
  • Outreach and assistance to homebound families; and
  • Fostering youth-to-youth connections and acting as social distancing ambassadors.