About one of every three disadvantaged youths notified that the city's Summer Jobs for Youth program has jobs for them fails to show up to take the job, District labor department officials said yesterday.
As of June 16, 11,155 disadvantaged youths -- those whose families are on public assistance or earning poverty-level incomes -- were called and told that jobs had been found for them.
Of these youths, 7,556 took the jobs, but 3,599 more did not show up when called to pick up their job assignments and fill out the forms necessary to enable them to go to work, the officials said.
Under the federal Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA), which funds the jobs, they can go only to economically disadvantaged youths. If enough youths who qualify as disadvantaged cannot be found to take the jobs, some of the funds may have to be returned. Other youths who are looking for scarce summer jobs but do not qualify as disadvantaged are not eligible.
"It's not fair to have the kids who want the jobs and are available to work precluded because of the (federal) law," said Nathaniel R. Landry, one of the coordinators of the District's job program.
As of June 16, the city had found 5,011 jobs for nondisadvantaged youths. Landry said that the city has just begun issuing work assignments for them and that almost all have responded.
A youth worker at the Southeast Neighborhood House questioned the city's claim that disadvantaged youngsters do not show up to take their work assignments.
"How long have they been calling these kids up?" asked the worker, Curtis Massey.
". . . I have kids say to me, 'they called my brother and not me.' It all sounds kind of strange. If the children couldn't go (to get their job assignments) I would know about it. I'm sure we'd get some feedback. The youngsters would say, 'I can't get down there. Can you take me?'"
Calvin Woodland, a community organizer in Southeast, said, "From what I know, the kids have been checking in periodically to see if there were any jobs for them. I know of none who have been unreachable.'"
Gwendolyn McKoy, 16, who got her assigment for a job at the Center for Sickle Cell Disease yesterday, said she never received notification, either by telephone or mail, that the city had a job for her.
Instead, she was told she had a job only after she went to the city's mini-employment center at her high school and inquired about the status of her application.
Landry said his staff calls the youths up to three times to ask them to pick up their job assignment. Most of the time, the youths are told to report to the high school in their neighborhood for their assignment. Others are sent to the Department of Employment Services on 6th and C streets NW. A trip there by bus from parts of Southeast, for example, may take as long as 40 minutes.
"Maybe some kids don't like coming down here . . . on a day like today, we're competing with a recreation department parade," said the program's director, John Anderson, as he watched youths receive their job assignments yesterday in the Employment Services office.
City labor officials were ready to sign up youths for 1,300 jobs yesterday, but only a few hundred showed up for the jobs, which will begin June 30.
Some 18,860 youths have applied for jobs through the city's summer jobs program. So far, the city has found 13,922 funded through CETA, and 3,052 funded through the city government. The federal government has agreed to supply 450 additional jobs.
The Board of Trade earlier this month said it had identified some 1,900 jobs in the private sector. But Anderson said that so far, his staff has found only 440 of them suitable for the youths.
"We can't take . . . go-go dancer jobs, or jobs that are commission jobs," Anderson said. He said the Board of Trade job solicitors often do not know what kinds of jobs employers expect to make available when they pledge jobs to the summer program.