by Douglas Evans and Sheyla Delgado
Research & Evaluation Center
Employment serves a number of positive functions in the lives of youth. Jobs promote hard work and time management, assist in the development of skills, offer job experience that can benefit future career options, and provide a source of income. Youth are at a disadvantage in the job market because they have school obligations that minimize their availability to work and they lack significant job experience. Justice-involved youth face even more difficulties gaining employment and many become chronically unemployed. YAP Advocates help clients to gain job experience and employment while they are enrolled in the program.
The Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College examined a sample of 1,523 clients between the ages of 15 and 17 who have been discharged from YAP. Analyses indicate that YAP participation increased the likelihood of youth employment between entry and discharge. Employment is defined as full-time or part-time paid work. Eighty-six youth clients (6%) were employed when they entered YAP, and at discharge, 233 youth clients (15%) were employed. The growth in the number of employed youth between entry and discharge indicates a nearly 300% increase in the number of employed clients. The number of youth clients seeking employment also increased from 395 at entry (26%) to 448 at discharge (29%). Unemployment decreased as well. More than 1,000 youth were unemployed at entry (68%) while 836 youth were unemployed at discharge (55%).
Many youth who entered YAP with prior dispositions or out-of-home placements gained employment during their enrollment. Of youth with a prior misdemeanor or felony disposition, five percent were employed and 70 percent were unemployed at entry. At discharge, 16 percent of these youth were employed and 55 percent were unemployed. Of youth with at least one prior out-of-home placement, eight percent were employed and 63 percent were unemployed at entry. At discharge, 24 percent were employed and 48 percent were unemployed. These results indicate that youth are more likely to be employed by the time they leave YAP.
Youth who are justice-involved have a high risk of unemployment. YAP helps youth secure employment despite prior justice system involvement or history of placements. Having a job is important for at-risk youth because it greatly reduces their likelihood of adult recidivism and it prepares them for responsible citizenship.