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Let Job Corps Keep Fulfilling Mission

Application freeze in great program that rescues low-income youths from dead-end future

Hartford Courant Editorial

April 07, 2013

For low-income young people without a job or much prospect of finding one, the right education and training are the keys to avoiding a dead-end future. For decades, the federally run Job Corps program has provided that help and it has worked.

Now, the U.S. Department of Labor has suspended new enrollment nationwide because of a budget shortfall of at least $30 million. It's a short-sighted move that should be reversed as soon as possible.

Last month, the Job Corps said it would freeze new applications at least until June 30, with two exceptions: homeless youths and those in foster care. In Hartford, enrollment has fallen from 200 to 151 students; New Haven's center has also cut back.

Connecticut's entire congressional delegation, Gov. Dannel Malloy and Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra are among many officials who have urged the Department of Labor to lift the freeze and they're right.

As part of an appropriations bill passed by Congress last month, the Employment and Training Administration of the Department of Labor was allowed to transfer $30 million from building funds to operations. That would be enough to unfreeze enrollment, but Labor officials haven't said whether they would do it.

It's hard to see why not. The Job Corps has proven its worth. Nearly 50 years old, it is the nation's largest career technical training and education program for students ages 16 to 24. In the past year, more than 85 percent of those who graduated from Hartford's program either had a job, joined the military or went to college.

Washington sources have reported that it was the Employment and Training Administration's own bungles that led to the cost overruns. If true, all the more reason why that office should restore the previous levels of enrollment right away.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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