The governor held a briefing Tuesday morning to make an announcement about the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on youth employment programs .
Gov. Ned Lamont is authorizing the state to release $2 million from the Coronavirus Relief Funds to expand the Connecticut Youth Employment Program.
He held a briefing at 10:30 a.m. at the Fair Haven Community Health Center in New Haven.and said a $7.1 million program would jump start what can be done for kids and allow them to earn a paycheck and socialize in a safe way.
The work would include cleaning up parks, helping elders and other priorities that local leaders determine.
"This is part of how we give them the confidence as they get back into this COVID world. Give them the confidence that they're out there earning a paycheck and socializing with people in a safe way, primarily an outdoors way," Lamont said.
The Connecticut Youth Employment Program runs year-round through the state’s five workforce development boards. In 2019, it was funded at just over $5.6 million and served more than 1,700 young people, according to the governor's office.
State Rep. Toni Walker said she talked to t he governor about concerns about funds for youth programs and Lamont said he would make sure it happens for the kids in Connecticut. She said $4.5 million is from youth employment dollars and an additional $2 million is connected with federally qualified health centers to engage with youth and understand what COVID is about and about heath care jobs.
The governor's office said the investment from Connecticut’s portion of the federal CARES Act funding will be added to the $4.5 million the state previously allocated for the program, as well as $637,600 from the Youth Employment and Training Collaboration, a collaborative of the Department of Children and Families and state Department of Labor, giving the program a total of $7.1 million this year.
Last week, the governor and leaders of non-profits announced the launch of ConnectiCorps, a service-based program intended to put young people to work and provide for needs in the community by serving non-profits.
New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said during the news conference that students have not physically been to school in sometime and that leads to challenges at home with young people not having the type of support network needed o keep them on track.
He added that there has also been an increase in violence and the city is working to address that and think creatively of how to solve the problem.
The city has had a program to put students to work for the city, at non-profits or for-profits, over the summer and for many participants, it's their first job.
Elicker said he is grateful for funding on par from last year, but to add to the funding to invest in young people.