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Youths not going wild, just to work

Summer program to connect participants with employers

May 23, 2009
By MICHAEL ANICH, The Leader-Herald

JOHNSTOWN - Hundreds of area youths from lower-income families will get real-life experience - with pay - through a Workforce Solutions System's program this summer.

Jennifer Swart, the agency's youth services coordinator, said Monday in a report to the Fulton County Youth Bureau that many youths throughout Fulton, Montgomery and Schoharie counties are expected to participate in the 2009 Summer Youth Employment Program.

To be eligible, applicants ages 14 through 17 must have working papers, and male applicants age 18 and older must be registered with the U.S. Selective Service. Every applicant has to have a Social Security Card.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich

Workforce Solutions Youth Services Coordinator Jennifer Swart addresses the Fulton County Youth Bureau Advisory Board on Monday in Johnstown.

"It's just a lot of fun," Swart said. "The kids enjoy it. We enjoy the kids."

She said the "general help" job sites include schools, city government offices, recreation departments, motels, clothing and pet stores and the county Department of Social Services' offices. Some youth have started at the sites and continue employment when they get older.

"We cannot place any kids in a place that has layoffs," Swart said.

The Workforce Solutions System asks that participating job sites provide "work experience and mentoring" to the teens from July 6 through Aug. 14.

Swart said the youth work anywhere from 15 to 40 hours per week - depending upon the viability of the program -from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Youth earn $7.25 per hour and workmen's comp is also paid. She said the youth are assisted by program counselors.

"The kids have to work while the counselors are working," Swart said. "We try to do everything we can to keep them working and keep money in their pockets."

Youth participants in the program, Swart said, have to undergo an employment interview and job readiness training featuring guest speakers. The young employees must learn how to acquaint themselves with such things as being on time for work and how to deal with difficult customers, she said.

"It's not just a work program, it's educational," Swart said.

She said the summer job participants take part in a system in which they are scored and they are also tutored while they get paid. Each youth is evaluated at the end of the summer, Swart said.

Swart said the youth are recognized at the end of the summer with a luncheon and certificates. The teens also are given such things as school supplies, gift bags and Wal-Mart cards upon successful completion of the program.

"We have an end of the summer celebration for them," Swart said.

Income qualifications for the program include those whose families are receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Food Stamps, Medicaid, rental assistance, free and reduced school lunches and those whose families are signed up for Home Energy Assistance Program support.

Bureau board member Richard Ottalagano said the Fulton County Museum in Gloversville is due to have a program youth help out there this summer.

"I'm pretty optimistic about it," he said. "I see a lot of good coming out of it."

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at



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