Governor Ned Lamont today announced that in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, he is authorizing the state to release $2 million from the Coronavirus Relief Funds to expand the Connecticut Youth Employment Program, an ongoing initiative that provides year-round employment opportunities with community-based agencies throughout the state. The expanded program will help community health agencies respond to the pandemic by providing critical support and education to marginalized populations that have been disproportionately impacted by the virus.
“Not only will this help more youths gain employment during this difficult time, but it will also enhance the critical efforts of community health agencies in their response to the pandemic,” Governor Lamont said. “Connecticut has persistent health equity gaps that impact communities of color – this virus and its impact on health and the economy is no different. Increasing our investment in youth employment programs not only helps our young people, but will also make a difference for community health,”
The investment comes from Connecticut’s portion of the federal CARES Act funding. It will be added to the $4.5 million the state previously allocated for the program, which is administered by the Connecticut Department of Labor (CTDOL), as well as $637,600 from the Youth Employment and Training Collaboration, a collaborative of the Department of Children and Families and CTDOL, giving the program a total of $7.1 million this year.
The Connecticut Youth Employment Program runs year-round and is implemented by the state’s five workforce development boards to increase youth leadership, improve job readiness, and improve economic stability. In 2019, it was funded at just over $5.6 million and served more than 1,700 young people.
“This program offers meaningful job opportunities to young people, helping them build networks, gain experience, and improve their resumes,” Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby said. “It is our hope that this program will also introduce young people to the important work being done on the ground by our community health partners, and open new career opportunities for them. I applaud Governor Lamont for expanding funding at a time during a vital time.”
Some opportunities anticipated to be incorporated in the expanded program include:
- Virtual outreach through social media to promote safer health practices
- Delivery of educational materials to community and other organizations
- Outreach and assistance to homebound families
- Fostering youth-to-youth connections and acting as social distancing ambassadors
Anyone interested in participating in the program should contact their nearest regional workforce development board for more information.
Joseph Carbone, president and CEO of The WorkPlace, said, “We look forward to helping local youth explore career opportunities in the high growth, health care industry. I would like to thank Governor Lamont and the Connecticut Department of Labor for facilitating this opportunity to employ youth in positions that respond to the COVID epidemic.”
William Villano, president and CEO of Workforce Alliance, the workforce development board for South Central Connecticut, said, “Providing work experience at an early age sets people up for success throughout their lives. Any work experience at an early age is an advantage, and health care is one of the better options overall.”
Catherine N. Awwad , executive director of the Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board, said, “We are very excited to have the opportunity to promote employment opportunities for our youth and young adults in raising public awareness of the COVID-19 crisis. These employment opportunities will serve as the foundation for career awareness and opportunities in the fields of health care and public health. We look forward to collaborating with our regional health care partners to provide a meaningful work experience while raising awareness about COVID-19 testing and risk mitigation.”
Mark W. Hill, interim CEO and president of the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board, said, “The Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board is very excited and fully supports the Governor’s COVID-19 Response Youth Employment Initiative. The program will provide meaningful employment opportunities for the youth in our region and state. For many participants, this initiative will be their first employment experience and become a foundation from which to develop future careers in the workforce. We are grateful to the governor and his administration for this investment in our community and our youth.”
Mark Masselli, founder, president, and CEO of Community Health Center, Inc., said, “This employment initiative focused on jobs and support for community-based organizations provides young people the opportunity to learn valuable skills while helping low income communities during the pandemic. It’s a creative approach by the governor to micro target Connecticut’s resources.”
Dr. Bruce E. Gould, director of the Connecticut Area Health Education Program, said, “Expanding the Connecticut Youth Employment Program at this critical juncture in Connecticut’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic will allow young people from at-risk neighborhoods and communities to be trained to provide essential services in collaboration with federally qualified health centers, Area Health Education Centers, and other community agencies to address whatever challenges remain ahead of us. We look forward to being part of this important effort.”