Press Release Records
Press Release of Senator King
Maine Congressional Delegation Expresses Deep Concern Over Jobs Corps Program
Thursday, January 31, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC – In a letter to the Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor, the Maine Congressional Delegation today expressed deep concern over the budget shortfall facing the Jobs Corps program and the suspension of all new student enrollees at Job Corps centers across the country. In the letter, Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Representatives Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree ask Acting Secretary Seth Harris for a full explanation of the reasons for the program’s budget shortfall and for a full explanation of the decision to suspend new enrollments.
“The purpose of Job Corps is to provide disadvantaged youth with the skills needed to obtain and hold a job, enter the Armed Forces, or enroll in advanced training or higher education. In addition to receiving academic and employment training, youth also engage in social skills training and other services to promote their overall well-being,” the letter reads. “As you well know, Job Corps is a vital piece of our workforce development system and is often the only option for the youth who enroll.”
There are two Jobs Corps centers in Maine: The Loring Jobs Corps Center in Limestone and the Penobscot Job Corps Center in Bangor.
Below is full text of the letter:
Dear Acting Secretary Harris:
We are writing to express our deep concern regarding the U.S. Department of Labor’s oversight and administration of the Job Corps program. The Department's decision to suspend all new student enrollments to Job Corps centers will leave thousands of youth without access to the largest residential youth education and training program for disadvantaged youth age 16 to 24.
The purpose of Job Corps is to provide disadvantaged youth with the skills needed to obtain and hold a job, enter the Armed Forces, or enroll in advanced training or higher education. In addition to receiving academic and employment training, youth also engage in social skills training and other services to promote their overall well-being. As you well know, Job Corps is a vital piece of our workforce development system and is often the only option for the youth who enroll.
It is estimated that with this suspension of new enrollees, the national program population will drop from 45,000 students to somewhere between 25,000 to 30,000 students. The Penobscot Job Corps Academy is currently contracted to serve 346 students on a daily basis and the Loring Job Corps Center is currently contracted to serve 385 students on a daily basis. It is estimated that by the end date of the suspension, each of the Maine sites will have only 80-100 students. According to the centers, with normal attrition and weekly enrollments of 15-20 students, it will take six months to bring the program back to current levels. Both Centers have indicated that some of the staff will have to be furloughed or even laid off from work during this suspension, further jeopardizing the long-term sustainability of the Centers and their important work.
We request that you immediately provide us with a:
1. detailed analysis and identification of the causes of the program year 2011 shortfall;
2. full accounting of the cost savings measures taken to address the program year 2011 shortfall;
3. full accounting of the permanent cost savings measures taken to address the program year 2011 and program year 2012 shortfall, to address fundamental budgetary shortfalls overall, and to improve program performance or management;
4. detailed description and analysis of the causes of the continuing shortfall in program year 2012;
5. full justification of the need to suspend enrollments, and whether reductions in slots or suspension of enrollments is anticipated to continue in program year 2013; and
6. full description of every other cost savings alternative considered by the Department before the final decision to implement the January 28 suspension of enrollments and the justification for not choosing those options.
We request that you provide this information no later than February 7, 2013. If you are unable to address any of these issues, please explain why the Department is unable to do so. We will continue to closely monitor the administration of the Job Corps program and the Department’s oversight of Job Corps centers.
# # #
Kevin Kelley 202-224-2523 (Collins)
Crystal Canney 202-445-9477 (King)
Ed Gilman, 202-225-6306 (Michaud)
Willy Ritch 207-841-8400 (Pingree)