Seneca County Department of Job and Family Services provided more than 50 local youths with jobs through its Youth Work Program this summer.
Director Kathy Oliver said the state Department of Job and Family Services provided funds to run the program this year, giving more youths the opportunity to participate.
The Temporary Aid for Needy Families Youth Summer Work Program started in February and is to run until Aug. 31. The TANF program was designed to help needy families become self-sufficient.
Eligibility is based on ages and amount of need. Youth between ages 14-18 are eligible as long as the individual is in a needy family and still in school. Those ages 18-24 can apply for the program if they are in a needy family that also cares for a minor or if the individual cares for a minor and is considered needy.
Carol Owen, workforce development administrator, said the program gives eligible youth the opportunity to develop a work history and have references, along with a paycheck.
“It’s a great benefit for the employers, too,” Owen said. “We’re reimbursing their wages up to $10 an hour. The only thing they’re liable for is any worker’s (compensation) claims.”
Since February, 154 youths have applied for the program, and some applications are still pending. Only 20 have been denied due to having too much income or not meeting other requirements.
Sixty-six youths have been placed in jobs through the program.
“Some of them don’t work out because we tell the employers, ‘They are your employee.’ We’re reimbursing the wages, we can help do some of the mentoring, some of the job development, but they are their employees,” Owen said. “If they’re not working out, not showing up, they’re going to handle them like they would any other employee.”
The program works with EHOVE Career Center, which places the students in job opportunities. The vocational school has a contract with DJFS to provide the job development and placement. They find and offer opportunities in manufacturing, customer service, landscaping and yard work.
“There’s enough (of) a variety that the youth can be exposed to a lot of different things,” said Walter Stahl, grant coordinator at EHOVE.
Besides the summer program, EHOVE runs a year-long program through the Youth Workforce Investment Act. The longer program provides a more comprehensive opportunity.
“It’ll take a look at developing workforce skills, so that may include finding a training provider, taking a look and identifying what the long-term goals are, taking a look at what the youth would actually like to do, so we have some different types of assessments that we can take a look at and try to identify what the person would like to do long-term,” Stahl said.
Several establishments in the county have provided job opportunities through the summer program, including Seneca Lanes, Carmie’s and Tiffin City Schools.
“One of the employers I’m excited about this year is American Fine Sinter,” Owen said. “They’re getting ready to expand, so they have a need. So, they’re hiring some of the older youth, some of the 18-24 year group, and those are working out very well. … but we’re really hoping that, because they’re going through an expansion, those placements will turn permanent.”
This also is the first year the program has partnered with Sentinel Career Center. This gives the program the opportunity to find youths with skills and placing them in jobs where they get more experience in that particular field.
Owen said one of the youth who was placed in the factory was studying welding at Sentinel Vocational Center.
“He’s been working at AFS this summer and getting some valuable experience,” Owen said.
Kalob Vargas and Justin Romig have been doing landscaping and janitorial work at the DJFS office. After three weeks, they have detailed the agency’s 14 vehicles and started clearing stones in front of the buildings, among other jobs.
Both said they would participate in the program again if they had the opportunity.
Vargas, a junior at Columbian High School, said he was in the program last year and got involved again when representatives came to the school.
“After I get out of high school and Sentinel, I was thinking about being an electrician,” he said.
Romig, a senior at Bridges Community Academy, got involved because of his cousins.
“My cousins worked here,” he said, “So they told me to get a job here.”
When he graduates, he said he wants to be a construction manager.
“They’re good kids; they’re doing a nice job. They’re really working,” Oliver said.
The program is not accepting any more applications. Additional information and applications for next year are available at djfs.co.seneca.oh.us or by calling (419) 447-5011.