Job Corps Centers throughout the nation have placed their students on an indefinite spring break with the first possible date of return being April 14, 2020, said officials.
“This spring break not only provides clarity for students, their families, and center staff, but also allows Job Corps maximum flexibility to respond to this evolving national emergency,”said John Pallasch, assistant secretary of employment and training.
However, for some of these Job Corp students, there is no clear path forward nor means of returning if they do not have family or community support or if they are being sent “home” to environments that are not suitable.
On March 17, the Department of Labor decided to close campuses in light of the COVID-19 public emergency, although there was no evidence of any suspected or confirmed cases in any Job Corps center. There are approximately 121 Job Corp Centers nationwide with tens of thousands of students and staff. Since it started in 1965, the federal training program has had more than two million graduates, and it boasts its share of inspiring success.
“I have nowhere to go. I came to Job Corps because it gave me the stability I needed in housing and the opportunity to learn a skill that would make me a productive citizen. I left everything bad behind and put my all into completing the program. Now, I am being told that I have to find a way for myself outside of Job Corps’ gate, on my own, with no housing support, food or financial resources.I don’t have a family that I can just fly home to,” said one student who visited a local non-profit for assistance.
For many students who have been blessed enough to enroll in Job Corps and benefit from the excellent training program, their success is based on the support of the staff with its strong family-oriented infrastructure. Now, these students are left without that support at a critical time and without resources.
Community advocates said the current administration should make sure each Job Corps student receives the necessary resources to exist until they can return.
With the proper communication and coordination between Job Corps staff and local social agencies and non-profits, these students would have received the support to continue their development through these turbulent times versus being thrown back into society with little resources.
By Ezekiel Wright