Mayor Marion Barry yesterday announced a new $1.7 million program to coordinate the District's job, social and recreational services for young people.
At a news conference dominated by discussion of initiatives aimed at helping young people, the mayor also named Johnnie Fairfax to the newly created post of special assistant for teen-age pregnancy and infant mortality and released figures showing that 21,893 young people have been referred to jobs with the Summer Youth Employment Program, scheduled to begin Monday.
Barry's news conference, held under a striped party tent at the East Capitol Dwellings housing project in Southeast, was the third such event outside the District Building since the mayor announced his candidacy for reelection last month.
The youth program announcements follow recent reports of alleged massive overtime fraud in the city's Youth Services Administration.
"The primary purposes of this program," Barry said of the new youth program, dubbed Operating Services Assisting Youth, "is to begin to break the cycle of drugs and poverty and crime."
Alexis Roberson, director of the D.C. Department of Recreation, said the program will employ 75 roving leaders to counsel youths and young adults aged 9 through 21 at 15 program sites located in the city's public housing projects.
The District's employment services, human services, and housing and community development agencies, as well as schools, will form a link with roving leaders to aquaint youths with the city's services. In addition, the Recreation Department will schedule outings for city youths.
Roberson said $900,000 has been approved through Sept. 30, adding that she hopes additional funding to provide the $1.7 million price tag for one year's operation will be approved later. The 75 staff members have been given 13-month temporary appointments to their jobs, the mayor said.
Barry suggested that the slight drop in summer youth employment figures from last year's is a result of the referrals of some participants last year to other city employment programs.
Barry lambasted private businesses, as he did last year, for failing to offer a significant number of jobs to participants. The mayor produced figures showing that of the nearly 22,000 jobs offered to youths, only 528 were provided by private, profit-making enterprises.
"Let me just express my dismay, my outrage, my dissatisfaction at the private sector's lack of participation in this program," he said.
In addition to introducing his new special assistant Fairfax -- who will move from his current post as community affairs specialist with the mayor's Youth Leadership Institute -- Barry announced the appointment of Renee Jenkins, director of Howard University Hospital's adolescent services department, as the new chairwoman of his Blue Ribbon Panel on Teen-Age Pregancy Prevention.
The mayor released statistics on teen-age pregnancies, which have been linked to the District's high rate of infant mortality, showing that 1,784 of the city's 9,840 live births in 1985 were to young girls -- including two 12-year-olds and eighteen 13-year-olds