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Youth jobs program deemed success

9/23/2010 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Summit County officials shared the results of an ambitious summer employment program for youths with members of Summit County Council Sept. 20.

During the Health and Human Services Committee meeting, Christine Marshall, of the Summit County Department of Jobs and Family Services (DJFS), told members that nearly 1,500 eligible youths took part in the program.

DJFS received $2.3 million in funding from the state in May to carry out the summer employment program. The funds originated in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, according to county officials. With little time, staff coordinated with four agencies and brought two additional ones on to help place youths from families receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families assistance in summer jobs, Marshall said.

She told Council that agencies reported receiving a total of nearly 3,000 inquiries into the program. Most of the youths worked between eight and 10 weeks for a total of about 150 hours at 349 job sites. She added that 171 youths dropped out, either on their own or because of an offense.

When the program concluded at the end of August, the county had spent about $1.8 million of the available funding on the program, Marshall said.

“We believe we’ve done better than the other 87 counties,” Marshall said.

Council members said they were pleased to see the response to the program.

“You did a great job,” said Pete Crossland (D-at large). “It’s amazing that we were able to implement that so quickly.”

In the first week after Council adopted legislation on the program, there had been some complaints that word was not getting out to students about the job opportunities. Marshall said the contracted providers were able to publicize the program through their existing networks. For example, Akron Public Schools officials were able to quickly identify 233 youths eligible to participate, she said.

Also Monday, the Public Safety Committee recommended Council adopt a resolution confirming a contract with Advanced Correctional Healthcare for jail inmate medical services for 2011 at a cost of $2 million.

The contract represents an increase of about $10,000 a month, according to Bill Holland, of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.

Brian Nelson, of the department of Budget and Finance, said the reason for the increase is that the provider will be able to absorb costs previously charged to the county if an inmate needs medical care at a local hospital.

Prior to meetings, Council presented a commendation to Fran Doll, founder of Guardians Against Sex Predators (GASP).

“This woman is a trailblazer,” said Council member Ilene Shapiro (D-at large), who added she’s known Doll for 30 years. “This is something the county is very proud of.”

Doll briefly updated Council on GASP’s current efforts in the “Not One More Child” effort, on which GASP representatives have been trained.

“We aim to overcome our natural aversion to talking about predatory crimes against children,” Doll said.

Summit County Council will meet Sept. 27 at 5 p.m. for caucus and 5:30 p.m. for the regular meeting in Council Chambers on the seventh floor of the Ohio Building, 175 S. Main St.

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