Monday, June 25, 2012

Now and Then: The History of DC's Summer Youth Employment Program

President Reagan hands over a check for SYEP to Mayor-for-life Marion Barry. PhotoCredit: Washington Post

The One City Summer Youth Employment Program starts today (as do most of the District's summer camps!)and it seems only appropriate given the number of District youth that have gone through SYEP over the years that we dedicate today's blog post to the program.

For those of you that need to brush up on your SYEP history, the program was established in 1979 by then- Mayor Marion Barry. Back in the day, SYEP served 22,000 exclusively low-income young people and was funded by the federal government. Flash forward to 2012 and SYEP serves upwards of 14,000 young people ages 14-21, from a variety of economic backgrounds almost exclusively with  local dollars (the 2011 program cost the District roughly $11.5 million). Given that the District now pays SYEP's full tab, one would hope that the program would have made leaps and bounds since its inception in '79, but this is not necessarily the case.

But why do I say not necessarily? Because the 2012 SYEP will operate absent a clear mission, articulated youth outcomes or vision for the future. A clear and targeted mission, vision and outcomes framework are the the foundation of any good program and SYEP's current lack of all three has proved to severely limit DC's capacity to effectively use youth workforce funding for years.

For example: Studies of SYEP have noted that SYEP host site supervisors and participating youth do report that young people benefit from taking part in the program. Cited benefits have included: exposure to the world of work, soft skills acquisition, career exploration, college and career planning etc. However ,SYEP currently lacks an outcomes framework which means none of these benefits have been clearly established as intended outcomes of participating in the program. What's more SYEP currently serves 12,000 youth whose work readiness, work experience and levels of educational attainment vary widely. The city doesn't know what skills and behaviors are the most important to teach  nor have they formulated a mission for the program that would specify which population of young people should be targeted with SYEP.

If we haven't established clear goals and outcomes for a program, collecting data on program effectiveness and quality becomes awfully tricky.Furthermore, without performance tracking  the city cannot make an informed decision about whether its yearly SYEP expenditure is cost-effective or if these local workforce dollars would be better targeted to another intervention.

Perhaps the one of the most troubling revelations about SYEP's current issues around system-wide quality and performance is that through at least some of its history SYEP has had articulated outcomes and a target population and performance monitoring. In the1990's SYEP slots funded by the federal program required individual assessments, data collection and evaluation. The impact of the federal  program could be measured from year to year because pre- and post-program assessments were mandated and these assessments captured performance data. Unfortunately when federal funding for these measures went away, so to did attention to outcomes and performance measurement.

Clearly SYEP has undergone quite a bit of change since 1979, but we still have a long way to go if we as a city want to make this program outcomes driven and cost-effective. The first step in achieving this goal is undoubtedly the formulation of a targeted mission and outcomes framework, but there are other steps and interim measures that could also be taken to affect positive change within SYEP.

For more information on reforming SYEP, check out DCAYA's 2011 Summer Youth Employment Program Report Card.

For more information on DCAYA's Youth Employment work, contact Anne Abbott, DCAYA Policy Analyst.

Friday, June 15, 2012

FY'13 Budget Season Wrap-Up

The FY’13 budget season is a wrap (well, at least as far as the Council’s role is concerned) and as is DCAYA’s habit we thought we would share some of the highlights;

Youth Employment

The Department of Employment Services (DOES) received $8,741,000 for Year Round Youth Programs up from the FY 12 budget mark of of $7,401,000. The Summer Youth Employment Program was funded at 11,371,000 with the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Institute funded at 762,000. In FY’13 DOES will continue to push out new agency run programming with the Pathways for Young Adults (PYAP)year-round program as well as the One City High School Internship Program and the One City College Internship Program

Additionally, CFSA has allocated 1 million of its budget formerly used for "Community Services and Child Placement Activity" to go towards a subsidized employment program for foster youth transitioning out of care. $800,000 of this allocation must go towards youth stipends which will be administered via an MOU with DOES.


On the education front,summer school at DCPS will see another budget reduction, receiving only $2,350,000 compared to the $4,596,000 allocated last fiscal year. There was another surprising budget cut in School Social and Psychological Services. The program’s budget will get even smaller in FY' 13, going from 368,000 in FY 12 to 92,000. Moreover, Special Education’s funding dropped from $122,850,000 to $109,732,000.

 Despite the budget reductions in DCPS there is one noteworthy increase in FY’ 13. The Youth Engagement program will receive 1,791,000; over a million dollar increase to the meager $435,000 it received in FY’ 12. The program focuses on providing in-school programs and services that promote healthy lifestyles so that students are better prepared for school. Although, many of the DCPS programs will experience considerable budget reductions in FY’ 13, overall DCPS received four percent budget increase in FY ‘13. These increases aren’t focused on one specific area but are instead scattered throughout different DCPS programs. Some of the most significant increases are in Curriculum Development and Implementation whose budget rose from $1,390,000 to $7,710,000 and Inclusive Academic Programs which rose drastically from $2,535,000 to $10,332,000. Lastly, the per pupil funding base rate for both DCPS and DCPCS will rise from $8,945 to $9,124 per student for fiscal year 2013.

Out of School Time

Funding for CYITC or The "Trust" remained stable this year at the $3 million mark. While the Trust's budget isn't a reduction from FY'12 its important to remember that out-of-school time programs in DC have experienced a 44% reduction overall since 2009. DCPS' Office of Out of School Time Programs received a cut of $3 million dollars and will also see a substantial change in the number of programs it can effectively partner with in SY'13 due in large part to the new Proving What's Possible grant program.

The Commission on Arts and Humanities did receive an uptick in funds this year,as did the Department of Parks and Recreation did receive a budget increase this year, although mainly to cover additional FTE's at notoriously understaffed sites. DPR will also launch the new Office of Partnerships and Development in FY'13 as a means of better integrating into the communities they serve.

Health and Human Services

The Department of Health’s Prevention and Intervention Service’s budget rose from $5,390,000 to $14,277,000. The Council also made the critical decision to delay the anticipated 25 percent reduction in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits which was scheduled to take affect this fall. Thousands of children, youth a families would have felt the effects if this reduction had it taken place. On the Youth Homelessness front, the Department of Human Services reports allocating $5 million to homeless youth services up from $3.5 million in FY'12 while this is a budgetary increase what this really is a better accounting of funds spent on different sub-populations of homeless and unstably housed young people (children, teen parents, runway and homeless youth).

While not every program the youth advocate community would have liked to have seen funded made it into the the final budget, it important to remember that funding is not the only piece of the puzzle.As such organizations like DCAYA need youth, parents, service providers and community members to be involved in  advocacy efforts YEAR Round!

Interested in getting more involved with DCAYA and the youth policy scene in the District? Check out Why YOU should be a member of our coalition!