The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion directing county departments to identify up to $20.7 million in the supplemental budget to continue current levels of funding for the Youth@Work program, and the Alliance for Children’s Rights advocated for $2.1million of the funding to be allocated specifically to support transition age foster youth ages 14-24.
The Youth@Work program provides employment opportunities for at-risk youth in Los Angeles County, many who have dropped out of school, are experiencing homelessness, or are in the foster care or juvenile justice system. The program also supports Transitional Age Youth (TAY), and CalWORKS youth, to ensure that those who are most vulnerable in Los Angeles County are still able to obtain valuable work experience.
The Alliance for Children’s Rights spearheads the LA Opportunity Youth Collaborative (OYC) Young Leaders which is a one-year paid training program in leadership development, advocacy, public speaking, and more. Eustolia Farias, a Young Leader with the LA OYC, began working an under the table job when she was 16 years old and was unaware of her rights as an employee. Farias states that access to a youth employment program would have helped her overcome economic barriers that led to her experience with homelessness.
Farias noted, “Even though I knew I was not protected under the law, I had to keep working because I didn’t have the guidance or skills to obtain a new job, which made it even more difficult to overcome the barriers I was already facing. If there was a youth program that helped me obtain a job and gain job experience and skills, there would have been less of a chance of me becoming homeless.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an economic downturn and many young people have lost their jobs. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is asking county departments to report back in the 2020-21 supplemental budget a funding plan that will sustain the Youth@Work program to ensure that youth from low-income households can prepare for employment and professional development.