Center dedicated for disadvantaged teens

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    By Jeffrey Chandler

    Disadvantaged youth across America are receiving valuable training and education through National Job Corps Centers, and now more Utahns will have this opportunity because of the newly-dedicated Clearfield Job Corps Center.

    Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) cited results of a new study regarding the effectiveness of the National Job Corps program, and commented on its value at the recent dedication a few days ago.

    “These new data, from a congressionally mandated study show that the National Job Corps returns $2.02 for every dollar invested in the program,” said Hatch, according to the news release. “I”m sure many of us wish we could get that type of return on a consistent basis from our individual investment portfolios.”

    The program is helping many disadvantaged youth become productive members of society, which eventually leads to less public assistance being used to help them, making these centers economically viable for the country, Hatch said.

    “It takes (the youth) out of tough environments and puts them into a structured environment where there”s many caring instructors and residential advisors that support them on a daily basis,” said Hank Owens, deputy director of the Clearfield center.

    As part of this effort, many of the students live on-site.

    “They do better because you can hold them more accountable, make sure where they are, that they are in class,” Owens said.

    Owens, who has been affiliated with the National Job Corps program for 27 years, said the center helps disadvantaged youth to reach their goals of either a GED or vocational training.

    According to a congressional study released by the program, Job Corps is the United States largest residential training program for disadvantaged youth between the ages of 16-24. The program operates 118 centers nationwide, and serves approximately 70,000 young adults annually.

    The study further cited some examples of the program”s effectiveness. It found substantial increases in the number of GED and vocational certificates attained, and modest short-term increases in earnings for participants in Job Corp.

    In addition, the study reported a 20 percent reduction in arrests, convictions, and incarcerations for convictions among participants of the program, accompanied by small beneficial impacts on receipt of public assistance and self-assessed health status.

    Despite a “zero tolerance” policy, described by Owen, the national study found no impact on self-reported alcohol and illegal drug use, family formation, or mobility among Job Corps” participants-raising questions to the effectiveness of the program”s social counseling.

    However, TEAP (Training Assistance Evaluation Program) mandates that the students “clean up” or they are eliminated from the program, Owens said.

    “Seeing someone from the local community who thanks me for something I said or did is very satisfying,” Owens said. “It”s kind of my way of giving back,” he added.

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