According to Teresa Watanabe reporting for the Los Angeles Times,The study by two children's advocacy organizations, the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Children Now, found that the recession had boosted the rates of these young people — particularly in African American, Latino and low-income communities. Many of them were caught in a squeeze between fewer jobs and a demand for higher skills...
Among African Americans, 45% of young people don't work or attend school; the figure is 39% for Latinos, 28% for whites and 26% for Asians. Young people whose families earn less than $20,000 a year are three times more likely to be out of work or school than those in higher-income families.
"These numbers are eye-opening and unacceptable," said Ted Lempert, president of Oakland-based Children Now, a nonpartisan policy and advocacy organization. "California's next generation is getting off on the wrong start and it's a real precarious situation for their future and ours."
The report calls for more funding for young people (federal money is currently focussed on assisting adult employment programs). A shift from piecemeal programs to a comprehensive effort to get youth back on track through integrated education, training, and support services across city and school systems was also emphasized. Lastly, the report stated that it is essential that youth have an opportunity to form relationships with caring adults.
The city and school district have agreed to share $120,000 annual cost of placing a school
counselor in each of the city's 13 youth centers that are hosting the
program. With access to school records, the pupil services and
attendance counselors can hunt down dropouts and give them an academic
assessment on how many credits they need to earn a high school diploma
or equivalent credential known as a GED. This new program expects to be able to reach 10,000 kids a year.
"A lot of people look at dropout kids as throwaways, but we have the fundamental belief that they can succeed," Robert Sainz, assistant general manager of the Los Angeles Community Development Department said.
(Above students from the Boyle Heights Technology Youth Center participate in Operation Gobble Gobble, a day committed to giving.)
Written by: Taylor McCulloch