New report raises questions about city's summer youth job program

Posted at: 04/25/2013 5:16 PM
Updated at: 04/25/2013 7:19 PM
By: Ray Levato

The city announced its summer youth job program Thursday, but some City Council members like Adam McFadden think it's time for a change.

It sounds good, providing summer jobs for more than 400 city teenagers. But new report is raising questions. Is it really having the desired impact? Is the cost reasonable? And should it be expanded?

The 46 page report from the Center for Governmental Research in Rochester was largely positive about the city's summer jobs program, but it did find some areas where it could be improved. This year, the budget is almost $550,000, those are city and state tax dollars. One of the problems the report found were administrative costs were too high. In one agency, as high as 17% of their summer jobs money.

But acting on the report, the city is capping that at a max of 12 %.

The program provides young people ages 14-to-20 with an opportunity to explore a job or career. Various local agencies provide the jobs. Each teenager gets paid $600 for the summer. Councilman McFadden wants to see more jobs for kids. His idea is to get a commitment from every company that gets a tax break or other city benefit to hire young people.

Adam McFadden, City Council Member, said, “We need to look at ways to make businesses that take money from us commit to developing our people, especially our young people. With jobs and training.”

News10NBC's Ray Levato said, “The question is, is the money being well-spent in terms of the results that the city gets?”

Richards said, “Yes, it is being well-spent.”

Levato said, “How do you measure it?”

Richards said, “Well, one of the recommendations was to adapt a smaller group of criteria by which we would judge the program. And they're going through a whole process. They're still in school. Their lives are changing. Their circumstances are changing. So the outcomes that we measure have to be outcomes that impact on them. But we're not in position to say this child will never have another problem.”

The city also collaborates with Rochester Works, the area's lead job search agency. They have a summer jobs program for about 500 other city residents and most of them are teenagers.

The city's summer job program focuses on careers. Young people learn how to submit a job application. They can explore such career paths as entrepreneurship, landscaping, multi-media production, precision machining and community organizing. News10NBC also spoke with City Councilwoman Loretta Scott. She's concerned that the number of kids in the summer jobs program has been cut back significantly as funding sources have dried up.

The City of Rochester says more young people applied for the summer jobs than were jobs available.

Mayor Richards pointed out that the city has other jobs programs that the city contracts with hiring. They are called Project Labor Agreements. Contractors have to hire a certain number of city residents, sometimes in apprentice programs. Among the projects that have those, new construction at Midtown Plaza, the City School Modernization and the new downtown bus terminal.