More money available for youth jobs program

LISBON – For a second time Columbiana County has received additional funding for its summer youth jobs program, which could extend employment for participants through October.

County commissioners this week authorized the county Job and Family Services (JFS) to move forward with using the $50,000 it had recently received from the Portage County JFS for the federally funded Summer Youth Employment Program. This represents unused funds from Portage County’s program.

The money is used to pay the hourly wages of youths 16 to 24 years old who are employed by participating businesses and government agencies in the county. Participants have to be at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, which s $47,100 for a household of four.

Approximately 240 youths were employed through this program, although some have since quit to return to school, but others remain on the job. County JFS Director Eileen Dray-Bardon said their original allocation of $427,000 was enough to keep the program going through mid-August, but an additional $305,000 was received last month after Knox and Wood counties were unable to fully use their funding.

Dray-Bardon said the latest infusion of additional funding means they can likely continue the program until its normal end date of Oct. 31.

This is not the first year the county’s program has benefited from other counties that have failed to spend their entire allocation, only to offer the unused funding to the county. It happened several times over the past two years.

“Up until this year there were a good number of counties that didn’t participate at all. It’s a lot of work,” she said. “While it’s a great program … it can be a hefty administration burden.”

Dray-Bardon said other counties simply discover they do not need their entire allocation due to low participation rates, but that is not the case in Columbiana County.

“We do not want to take any money we can’t spend … If we take the money we’re confident we can us it,” she said.