The Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS)  announced $2.7 million in funding to expand the 2015 youth employment program to include 14- and 15-year-olds.

“Our children are the future, and this small investment reflects that reality by expanding the opportunity to develop a strong work ethic and important life skills while earning a paycheck,” said House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn (D-Dayton).

ODJFS will provide additional funding to well-established programs in Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton and Montgomery counties; the programs in Cuyahoga County will receive approximately $900,000 in additional funding. These programs have a proven history of serving 14- and 15-year-olds.

“We are pleased to partner on this funded initiative. This employment initiative is one of the key elements of OLBC’s action agenda. Investing in our 14- and 15-year olds while giving them work experience is critical at a time when our state is filled with teen suicide, poverty and crime reduction efforts,” said Ohio State Representative and OLBC President Alicia Reece (D-Cincinnati).

In the fall, ODJFS will transition from a summer youth employment program to a year-round employment program targeting older teens and young adults, specifically 16- to 24-year-olds. The new program will bring together multiple state and local assistance programs to provide comprehensive case management services to low-income teens and young adults. This early intervention will prioritize education and job training in order to break the cycle of poverty.

“This summer program brings together two of the issues I’m most passionate about: youth development and workforce training. Young adults are often unoccupied during the summer months, and this program not only ensures they remain engaged, but that they are developing the skills and experience they need to be competitive in the job market,” added Rep. Stephanie Howse (D-Cleveland).

Last summer, nearly 13,000 16- to 24-year-olds earned an average of $8.49 per hour working for nearly 3,000 employers in 71 counties.

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