July 23, 2020
Oneida County Summer Youth Employment Programs Proceed Amid Pandemic
College Corps Interns Provided to Operate Utica Parks & Playgrounds
Oneida County’s Summer Youth Employment and College Corps programs are proceeding and adapting their operations amid the coronavirus pandemic, including providing interns to staff the City of Utica’s parks and playgrounds.
“While we are unfortunately unable to operate our traditional summer employment programs at full scale this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have been able to adjust our scope and adapt to the circumstances,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. “With the options for youth employment diminished this summer and municipalities struggling to provide much-needed services to residents, we were happy to be able to provide the City of Utica with interns from our College Corps program that ensured its parks and playgrounds could safely open to the public.”
There are currently 25 College Corps interns working to provide a clean and safe environment for Utica youth at Proctor, Addison Miller, Seymour and O’Connor parks; Pixley, Quinn and Wankel playgrounds and the Parkway Recreation Center. They will work a total of 200 hours at a rate of $12 per hour. More interns are expected to be hired.
“In combating the negative fiscal of impact of COVID-19, it is important, now more than ever, that municipalities work together to share resources and deliver the best possible service,” said Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri. “This program will provide valuable manpower in helping to maintain city parks. I am pleased the City and County were able to partner on this worthy initiative as it not only enhances quality of life for our residents but provides employment opportunities for local college students.”
The county College Corps internship program has been partnering with local employers for more than 20 years and normally hires more than 150 interns per summer. The students get hands-on experience in fields such as technology, engineering, business, law, marketing education, health, finance and human services. Participants are paid by a 50/50 split between the county and the employer. About $80,000 is expected to be paid by the county for the program this year.
Meanwhile, the Oneida County Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP), which will kick off August 1, is still looking for places to serve as work sites for local youth aged 14-18.
“This is a time when our local not-for-profit agencies, local governments and other community-based partners have work that can be done this summer by youth who will be bringing a spirit of can-do energy to community service,” said David Mathis, Oneida County Director of Workforce Development. “Oneida County is committed to making this a safe year of work for our youth by obeying all COVID-19 protocols, but we also know that we cannot deny the opportunity to work to the youth who need this program the most.”
A few slots in the SYEP still remain open, and a work site request form is available on the Workforce Development page on ocgov.net. Organizations and agencies that want to participate should contact Mathis at 315-798-5543 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
All county youth workers will be provided with personal protective equipment and will be trained on how to stay safe at their work sites. Picente expects about 300 youth will work 100 hours each through the program this summer.
The SYEP normally employs up to 450 youth per summer. Program participants work up to 50 hours and are paid minimum wage. They are placed in well-supervised community worksites including community centers, child-care businesses and other local agencies, or are assigned to special projects. To be eligible, participants must be Oneida County residents between the ages of 14 and 18 and meet certain income criteria.
The program is funded by a $556,000 allocation through New York’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.