Job program places much fewer youth

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 4, 2000

FERRIDAY, La. — The LaSalle Community Action Association placed 125 young people in summer jobs last year. This year, however, the federal government did not fund the summer job program, which allows youth 16 to 21 to make a little extra money and save funds for college.

So the agency had to ask local government agencies and businesses to foot the bill for hiring as many youth as they could.

But according to Dorothy Oliver, director of the agency’s Louisiana Workforce Center, the agency has only had one taker: the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office, which offered to hire four youth this summer and has participated in the program for at least 10 years.

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&uot;It’s very important in giving these kids something constructive to do and might give them an idea of the career they want to pursue,&uot;&160;said Sheriff Randy Maxwell. Youth hired by the sheriff’s office mostly do clerical work, he added.

When the program, now in its 16th year, was funded by the federal government, youth in the summer job program had to be placed with publicly funded agencies such as the Concordia Parish School District or local recreation boards.

All those agencies had to do was tell LaSalle Community Action how many youth they needed for the summer.

Cash-strapped agencies are cutting costs as it is and cannot afford to hire additional summer help, said Oliver, whose agency serves Concordia and five other parishes.

&uot;We paid for (jobs for) the children before,&uot;&160;Oliver said. &uot;Now, the representatives of these boards have to go back to their jurymen and ask them to participate in the program … and they don’t have the money.&uot;

Since private businesses could not take advantage of the program prior to this year, they aren’t familiar with the program, she added. And with a sagging local economy, many cannot afford to hire extra employees.

Still, Oliver is hoping that businesses are still looking for young workers, even if they do not seek them through her agency.

&uot;Maybe some of these fast-food places will give them a job,&uot; she said.