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Health Care Summer Youth Employment Program

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Community Challenge/Problem

It can be challenging to place economically disadvantaged youth with barriers to employment in traditional summer youth employment programs. Often, they are idle during the summer months, and besides missing opportunities to gain workplace skills and prepare for their futures, they experience erosion of academic skills as well. In 2003, the Town of Hempstead Department of Occupational Resources (DOOR), home to HempsteadWorks One Stop Center, decided to address this population through a new youth-focused program that would allow qualifying youth to obtain work experience, maintain academic skills, and expose them to specific career paths.

Board Solution/Innovation

The Health Care Summer Youth Employment Program was created by DOOR in partnership with the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County (UCP) and Winthrop University Hospital. The 30 hour/week, six-week program included: a work experience placement with UCP; math and reading remediation; and leadership training and exposure to healthcare careers, taught by Winthrop University Hospital administrators. In addition, participants were mentored by UCP and hospital supervisors as they visited local colleges and universities and took career exploration classes related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Career exploration was customized to the Long Island labor market, to show participants jobs available in their local area. The program has been funded by WIA funds, TANF Summer Youth Employment Grants, and ARRA funds.

Outcomes & Results

The Health Care Summer Youth Employment Program has enrolled 75 participants since its inception. The wages they earn not only increase their college savings, but also support the local economy. The program has improved the reading and math scores of its disadvantaged youth participants, helped prevent them from dropping out of high school, and increased their rate of college entrance. Their work at UCP has helped participants develop understanding and compassion for individuals with disabilities, and the guidance of their adult mentors has created positive attitudes toward work and authority. They are making better educational and career choices to prepare them for future growth.

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