With an Employment First Approach, Homeless Youth Find their Professional Passions & Meet their Goals
By Leiha Edmonds, Research and Policy Assistant, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity
On any given night, over 200 unaccompanied children and youth experience homelessness in Washington, D.C., and it’s likely that hundreds more are doubled up, couch surfing, or living in other unstable housing situations that puts them at risk of homelessness. Yet when Friendship Place, a leading D.C.-based homeless services organization, scanned the District’s available services, they realized youth and young people up to the age of 30 often weren’t getting all the help they needed to exit homelessness. Many of these young people also weren’t working or in school, and it was clear that helping these opportunity youth succeed in employment would play a key role in preventing and ending their homelessness. That’s why Friendship Place created its Before Thirty program, which works with youth and young adults experiencing or at risk of homelessness to help them get and keep jobs, move into stable housing, and meet their goals. This month, we chatted with Before Thirty’s Youth and Young Adults Specialist, Tiffini Jackson, about the importance of an “Employment First” approach for homeless jobseekers, the hidden face of youth homelessness, and helping youth find their professional passions.
By Jeanne E. Murray, Research and Policy Assistant, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity
This Mother’s Day, we want to recognize incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women with children. Women represent the fastest growing population in prison. Over the last 30 years, the female prison population has grown by over 800 percent, and more than 60 percent of women prisoners are parents to children under age 18. Incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women are likely to have low educational attainment and experience mental health or substance use issues, and many are survivors of domestic violence. These barriers, combined with long gaps in work history and the stigma of a criminal record, can make it difficult for formerly incarcerated women to find and keep jobs once they’re back home. To help these women stay out of prison and successfully reenter their communities, it’s critical that employment services be a part of the programming that formerly incarcerated women receive.
Ardella’s House in Philadelphia aims to reduce recidivism by helping women successfully transition back into their communities. Ardella’s House provides women support and guidance along with addressing their career placement and vocational and educational training needs. This month, the National Initiatives team spoke with Tonie Willis, the Director of Ardella’s House, to discuss the important issues facing women who are incarcerated or formerly incarcerated—including getting and keeping jobs.
By David T. Applegate, Research and Policy Assistant, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity
It turns out that having a summer job can reduce violent crime among young people from highly disadvantaged neighborhoods—even more than a year after the summer job has ended. During the summer of 2012, Chicago’s One Summer Plus program offered eight weeks of subsidized, part-time summer employment, an adult job mentor, and—in some cases—a social emotional learning curriculum to youth with barriers to employment. An experimental study evaluating One Summer Plus found that over the next 16 months, violent crime arrests among youth who were offered summer jobs decreased by 43 percent compared to youth who weren’t.
By helping to implement One Summer Plus, SGA Youth & Family Services (SGA) has been central to Chicago’s efforts to curb violence and increase summer employment opportunities for the city’s vulnerable youth. SGA works in over forty communities across Chicago and offers a wide variety of services ranging from operating community health clinics to educational support and, of course, youth employment opportunities.
The National Initiatives team spoke with Jamie Roth, SGA’s Director of Workforce Development, to discuss the organization’s role in One Summer Plus and its broader work to combat poverty and bring hope and change to local communities across Chicago.