HunterFloorTweed Former wards of the state will soon have access to internships and potential employment opportunities. A youth employment jobs plan, creating the Foster Youth Summer Internship Program, was signed into law today.

“Our at-risk youth face the harsh challenges of either finding employment or facing joblessness, homelessness and even incarceration. Preventing a pipeline to prison will empower our future leaders and grow our economy,” said State Senator Mattie Hunter, the bill’s sponsor.

A 2011 Northwestern University study showed Illinois had the third largest number of youth in the country who were aging out of the foster care system without parental support at 21 percent.

Compounding those figures, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the state had one of the highest unemployment rates among teens aged 16 to 19 in 2012, at 27.1 percent.

Joblessness among minority youth skyrocketed to 90 percent for African-Americans and 79 percent for Hispanics.

“Our youth are struggling to find jobs. Internships will give them transferrable skills while fostering their economic independence,” said Hunter.

Hunter modeled the program after similar foster care internship pilot programs in Maryland, Missouri and Florida.

The program will begin on January 1, 2016 and operate for a two-year period before being assessed for long-term implementation.

Senate Bill 1255 gained bipartisan support and passed the Senate 49-1 and the House 115-0 in May.

Category: News

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