That 30,000+ youth would be without summer occupation brought ralliers to the steps of City Hall on May 17th. Their goal inspire the expansion of Summer Youth Employment Program, for one, just prior to the NYC Council budget hearings. 2015’s SYEP had added seats to the program, however the expansion was temporary and expired.
“700 slots lost in my district, 700 kids will be searching for something to do,” said Council Member Chin at the hearing.
Council Member and Youth Services Chair Dr. Mathieu Eugene in addition for addressing the benefits of SYEP for youth also mentioned the need for summer youth programs as they help working parents, “30,000 kids don’t know what to do their time. The children are on vacation, but the parents are not on vacation. What are the parents going to do? Where are they going to find the money for babysitters and programs? This is a very expensive place.”
It was revealed that many council members had firsthand experience with SYEP, and many said it inspired them to pursue careers in public service. Studies show that SYEP improves school attendance, offers new skills, reduces incarceration rates and keeps teens and young adults safe—including youth who wouldn’t otherwise have access to paying jobs.
SYEP is the nation’s largest summer youth employment initiative. New York City young people between the ages of 14 and 24 who are selected receive up to six weeks of entry-level experience at worksites in all five boroughs. Participants are selected by lottery for the program, which runs from July 5 through August 13.
Last year SYEP received 120,000 applications for 54,000 placements. The modest expansion to 60,000 placements for this year is supported by council members and proponents. There is also the goal to expand to 100k positions by FY 2019. However the funding allocated for FY 2017 will support around 35K jobs this summer.
Council Member and Finance Committee Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland sees the need for a more proactive approach. She stated, as quoted in The Gotham Gazette, “The issue that we have is that year to year, we have to negotiate for this funding. We want it baselined so agencies can properly plan and young people can be informed that they have a job in the summer.”