YWP is advocating to increase the accessibility, diversity, and availability of youth employment programs so that more youth can be enrolled in part-time and full time employment throughout the year. In December 2015, YWP released A Field-Based Review of DOES Office of Youth Programs and Recommendations for Change, which documents several limitations of youth access and program delivery and includes recommendations for improving services. Since then, YWP youth and adult staff have presented several testimonies and met with leaders in the Mayor’s Office and the DC Council to advocate for improvements.
Recommendations: YWP is advocating to increase the accessibility, diversity, and availability of youth employment programs so that more youth can be enrolled in part-time and full time employment throughout the year. We have10 recommendations, as follows:
- Convene a Youth Workforce System Taskforce to assess youth employment needs, assets, and resources and develop recommendations for increasing OYP effectiveness.
- Develop a strategic and operational plan that includes youth employment targets, participation targets This plan will serve as a vision document as well as road map for the operation of a successful youth and young adult workforce system. Multiple stakeholders need to be at the table during the creation process – including WIC members, Youth Committee, sister agencies, CBOs and youth workers and prospective workers.
- Develop a strategic plan that includes youth employment and capacity benchmarks, tiered programming, strategies for outreach, business engagement, and community and youth engagement, support services, and funding.
- Conduct a youth-accessibility audit; make immediate changes to DOES-OYP communications and outreach infrastructure that include website updates, accurate program descriptions, enrollment information and opportunities, deadlines, and direct email and phone contact information for program point people.
- Allocate $2 million of local funding to expand and streamline in-school programs to create immediate year-round paid work opportunities for 1,000 in-school youth. There are a number of high quality programs that already employ hundreds of in-school youth.
- Develop a comprehensive and tiered program design for out of school youth (OSY) that addresses the needs of a broad range of youth including those who are work ready as well as the most vulnerable and those with the most intense need.
- Restructure and Strengthen the Work Investment Council so that it can meet its mandate to develop workforce policies, provide oversight to the workforce system including the youth system, establish performance standards and facilitate collaboration across sectors-government, CBO and private businesses.
- Establish a Youth Employment Council, co-chaired by DOES and a community-based partner, whose aim is to ensure that the DOES Office of Youth Programs designs and delivers effective programming, that community based organizations and businesses are doing their job, and that funds are allocated responsibly.
- Develop a clear funding plan that leverages multiple funding streams, focuses on employment interventions, mandates youth pay and benefits, and balances federal WIOA program requirements; expand budget transparency.
- Transfer employment programs to a new office of youth development and engagement that would handle programming and contracting for youth employment programs, after school programming including community schools, homeless youth, youth transitioning out of foster care and rehabilitative services.