Program finds work for youths

MARIETTA – As summer draws near and the school year draws to a close, area youth will have an opportunity to gain work experience and fulltime employment through the Summer Youth Program.

The program, sponsored by Washington County Job and Family Services, is already accepting applications, said JFS Director Tom Ballengee.

“We’re taking applications right now; 50 to 60 kids have already signed up for it,” he said.

Last year a total of 155 students across the county signed up and gained fulltime summer employment

Ballengee said that there isn’t a set deadline to sign up, but the sooner a student gets his or her name in the mix, the better. Summer employment starts around June 1 and runs through the beginning of September. The typical applicant is 16 to 18 years old, but the age can be higher.

“They can be up to 24 if there is a child under 18 attending school in the home,” he said.

Candy Nelson, supervisor, said the other child could be a sibling.

“It could be a sibling, so a brother or sister, or their own child,” she said.

Nelson said applications are available across the county.

“We have them online on our website,” she said. “We have them at schools. They can stop in and fill one out. The parents have to fill it out.”

Ballengee said there are requirements for students to qualify.

“They have to be under 200 percent of the poverty level,” he said.

Nelson added that the other qualifications are students must be Washington County residents and have a child under 18 in the home. She urged students to get their applications in as soon as possible.

“As long as we have money available, we’ll take (applications),” she said.

Ballengee said the money budgeted for the program goes back to the employer.

“We reimburse the employer for the number of hours the youth has been employed,” he said.

The city of Marietta employs several students from across the county. Safety Service Director Jonathan Hupp said students’ jobs range from lawn mowing to data entry.

“Hopefully that gives them a good opportunity for job experience and they can apply that when they graduate,” Hupp said.

Hupp said that a new job will be available for applicants: repairing brick streets.

“This is an opportunity for us to get this program back up and running,” Hupp said. “They’re going to learn the brick packing process, what water does to a brick street and why, and put it back together.”

Hupp said the program provides a unique opportunity for employers.

“It gives (students) their first job,” Hupp said. “A lot of these families are in a financial situation and this program (helps). It’s a wonderful opportunity to try to help on so many levels. The mayor and I are really pleased with how we’ve run the program; it’s nothing but a win-win for us.”

Students can pick an employer to work for and if the company is willing to do the program, they must call JFS.

The budget this year for the program is $400,000, and Nelson said every penny would be used to give students employment.

“It’s a busy program, but we usually spend it,” Nelson said. “The kids work and it’s money that goes right back into the county.”