SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (IRN) – Illinois is losing 18,000 youth jobs this summer as a result of the loss of federal stimulus funds and no allocation of state funds.
For the last two summers, teenagers across the state have been able to participate in summer work programs thanks to federal stimulus dollars, but this summer, that money has run out.
The lack of jobs for youth likely means more violence on the streets this summer, says Jack Wuest, executive director of the Alternative Schools Network. “It’s a very desperate situation and as it gets hotter there’s more young people on the street and everybody has seen the stories of people being shot, of young people being shot,” Wuest said. “[Summer youth jobs programs] not only [help youth] learn the skills to be the adults they want to be but also just to provide safety for them and their neighborhoods.”
Since the mid- 1960s there was a federal summer jobs program for lower class teenagers to help keep them off the streets, but that ended in 2000. Two years ago, federal stimulus money revived the program, but only temporarily.
Youth groups plan to rally today (Monday) in Chicago. They will call for state help to keep the summer jobs programs alive.