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Congress to probe $100-million shortfall in Job Corps program

February 19, 2013|By Shan Li
  • The Job Corps is temporarily freezing enrollment at its job training centers, a move that could effect 30,000 young people looking for education.
The Job Corps is temporarily freezing enrollment at its job training centers,… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

Congress is investigating a nearly $100-million dollar budget shortfall in the Job Corps program, aimed at giving job training to low-income youths, after the Labor Department said it was forced to halt enrollment at job centers nationwide.

The move could keep as many as 30,000 disadvantaged youths from getting job training this year, according to Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.). 

"If there are mistakes made that led to this problem, the ones losing out here are going to be young people at risk," Casey told the Associated Press. "Apparently, Labor Department officials were admitting that they made some kind of mistake with the budget."

Casey called for an investigation into what he deemed "serious questions about the management by the department."

The Job Corps said last month that it would stop accepting new applicants into its program from Jan. 28 to at least June 30, with a few exceptions made for youths in the foster care system or homeless.

Founded in the 1960s, Job Corps was part of President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society -- a set of domestic programs that aimed to eliminate poverty and racial injustice in the U.S. Job Corps, which served about 60,000 each year, offers free education and job training for those age 16 to 24.

The job centers around the nation are run by private contractors hired by the government. Programs include housing, meals and medical care -- and training to prepare students for practical careers such as welding or car repair.

Two years ago, the Labor Department said it was experiencing a multimillion-dollar budget shortfall in the Job Corps program. Despite emergency steps to plug the hole, the problem got worse last year.

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Follow Shan Li on Twitter @ShanLi

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