It is no secret that those hit hardest by the economic fallout from COVID-19 had low-paying jobs in service industries.
And those are the kinds of jobs most at-risk youths ages 16 to 24 were working in Illinois. Until suddenly they were not.
To help provide income, training — and something to do in the long, hot summer — the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) partnered with some 30 private-and public-sector agencies and businesses to employ at-risk youth throughout the state. The Illinois COVID-19 Summer Youth Employment Program will run through Aug. 31.
“Significant numbers of youths have lost jobs,” said Karrie Reuter, program director at DHS’s Division of Family and Community Services Bureau of Youth Intervention Services. DHS said that youths ages 16 to 24 made up nearly a quarter of the jobs in industries most hurt by the pandemic.
Young people “usually are hired in part-time or temporary kinds of positions,” Reuters said. “So even in those establishments maybe that have been able to continue with employment, you, unfortunately, have lost those jobs.”
Through the program, youths are working and will work for everything from community agencies to, for example, doctors’ offices that need people to take the temperatures of people coming in. The young people will be paid for their work.
In addition, Jason Stamps said, they will learn skills that can help them become more employable in the future. Stamps is the acting executive director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. He tsaid his agency helped fund the program because having something to do, having an income, and having training for a future job all contribute to keeping young people out of the criminal justice system.
“Employment is a great way to limit criminal activity or to reduce violence specifically, by giving at risk-youths in communities that are marginalized resources that they can avail themselves (of).”
For information, visit the DHS website.