The Community Service Society of New York applauds the changes in policy at the New York City Human Resources Administration, as described in today’s New York Times. The dismantling of workfare programs, which produced paltry results in terms of skill development or employability of job seekers, is a clear step forward. The tens of millions of dollars that the City spends on “welfare to work” programs should not be based on an empty ideology of punishing individuals in crisis for the unfortunate fact of being poor. Rather, we should use these precious dollars as an engine for our economic growth, and a chance to ameliorate inequality in our communities. The proposed internships and transitional jobs will do just this.
More specifically, we are pleased to see the focus on educational and training for young adults through age 24. In doing so, New York City is establishing itself as a leader in addressing the crisis of disconnected youth -- young people under age 25 who are out of school and out of work. We addressed this issue in a 2011 report, “Missed Opportunity: How New York City Can Do a Better Job of Reconnecting Youth on Public Assistance to Education and Jobs.” The report recommended many of the reforms that have been announced by the new administration. By mobilizing “welfare to work” resources to reconnect these young people to meaningful education and employment opportunities, we are setting an example for how localities across the country can tackle this growing crisis.