D.C. Summer Youth Employment Program has fewer payday glitches this year

By Stephanie Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 22, 2010; B05

The first full payday of the District's historically rocky Summer Youth Employment Program went smoothly overall, although not without some glitches, city officials said.

In contrast with previous years, the majority of the more than 18,000 youths working in businesses, nonprofit organizations and city agencies across the District were paid in full and on time, said John A. Stokes, a spokesman for the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Yet some employees were not paid correctly, city officials said.

According to City Council member Michael A. Brown (I-At Large), more than 120 employees of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's Conservation Corps, a program dedicated to cleaning up trash and graffiti in the city, were not paid on time.

Mafara Hobson, a spokeswoman for Fenty (D), said that 24 Conservation Corps supervisors claimed on Wednesday that they had pay issues. Stokes said city officials are investigating the complaints of 74 employees, of more than 18,400 total participants, who said they were not paid correctly.

"Whatever the situations are that we have to resolve, this has been the lowest amount of payroll situations in the history of the program," Stokes said, citing onsite managers and a streamlined payroll system as the main reasons for the improvements.

The program got off to a rocky start in June, when about 700 youths attempted to change their work sites. Some said they were turned away from their assigned workplaces after being told the sites had too many employees.

The program, for D.C. youths ages 14 to 21, began in 1979 under Mayor Marion Barry (D). It came under fire in 2008 when it exceeded its budget by more than $30 million and paid some youths who did not work or were ineligible for the program, including 200 who were not D.C. residents.

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