DOL-HHS Joint Letter on Summer Jobs for At-Risk Youth

Dear Colleague Letter

Publication Date: May 9, 2013

Department of Health and Human Services

United States
Department of Health and Human Services

Department of Labor logo

United States
Department of Labor


May 9, 2013


Dear Colleague:

Once again, as we look forward to the summer, we know many young people will be searching for summer employment.  On April 11, 2013, the President issued a call-to-action for mayors, businesses, and non-profit leaders to work together to promote summer and year-round youth jobs initiatives at the local level.  Known as the Youth Jobs+ initiative, this effort will build on the success of last year’s Summer Jobs+ initiative, and include a focus on learn and earn opportunities, life skills, and work skills.  Such programming should aim to both increase youth employment and decrease juvenile violence.  You can learn more about Youth Jobs+ at: Visit disclaimer page .

The Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services want to encourage human services agencies to partner with Workforce Investment Boards (WIBs) to develop summer jobs programs that provide employment opportunities and valuable work experience for needy and at-risk youth.  State human services agencies have the potential to expand the job opportunities for low-income youth by allocating Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) resources to summer youth employment programs and supportive services such as job shadowing and mentoring.  Coordination with Community Action Agencies funded under the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) can strengthen local summer jobs efforts.  Coordination with State and local child welfare agencies can ensure that the benefits of such programs are extended to young people in foster care.

With the availability of the TANF emergency funds during fiscal years 2009 and 2010, we saw State and local TANF agencies throughout America play a crucial role in creating or expanding subsidized youth employment programs that operated during the summer months.  TANF agencies entered into key partnerships with State and local WIBs and organizations in their communities, allowing for the combination of resources and effective execution of large jobs programs in a short period of time.  By September 2010, 24 States and the District of Columbia created partnerships between their TANF and workforce development agencies to create youth employment programs, and 138,050 youth had been placed in subsidized jobs funded in whole or in part by the TANF Emergency Fund.[1]

Over these two summers, we witnessed the benefits that summer youth employment programs can bring to a community:  youth were connected to the labor force; community members earned needed income, and in turn, supported local economies; and businesses and non-profit organizations were provided with the resources needed to hire employees.  Research shows that summer employment programs help youth build new and valuable skills.[2]  One study of summer jobs programs funded by Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and TANF found that nearly 75 percent of youth participants improved their work readiness skills.[3]

While emergency funds are no longer available, States continue to have the opportunity to use Federal TANF and State maintenance-of-effort (MOE) funds for the creation and expansion of subsidized summer employment programs and additional activities such as job shadowing and mentoring for low-income youth.  During the Emergency Fund, we provided additional guidance on allowable expenditures associated with summer employment programs including employer supervision and training costs that can be claimed as third-party MOE.  That guidance can be found at: /programs/ofa/resource/recovery/tanf-faq.

To reiterate, it is critically important for State and local TANF agencies to work with WIBs to explore ways to combine resources in developing or expanding subsidized employment programs and related supportive services.  Where appropriate, programs may co-enroll youth in the TANF and applicable WIA programs so that participants in TANF-funded subsidized employment opportunities can benefit from additional WIA services such as occupational skills training and other relevant services.

In addition, we encourage partnership efforts with State CSBG offices and local CSBG eligible entities to identify opportunities that may exist at the State and local levels for supporting and integrating subsidized employment efforts with life and work skills programs provided by local nonprofit agencies, such as Community Action Agencies.  Where appropriate, based on identified community needs, CSBG eligible entities may support employment opportunities directly or may offer additional supports for youth in the TANF and applicable WIA programs.  For example, CSBG participants also in TANF-funded subsidized employment opportunities can benefit from other relevant services such as financial education, mentorship, and linkage to other supportive services.

Equally as important, we encourage strong partnerships with State and local child welfare agencies.  These agencies administer the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP) which is a source of dedicated child welfare funding to help current and former foster care youth obtain education, employment, financial management, and other skills.  The program is intended to serve youth who are likely to remain in foster care until age 18, youth who, after attaining 16 years of age, have left foster care for kinship guardianship or adoption, and young adults ages 18-21 who have "aged out" of the foster care system.  In fiscal year 2011, 26, 286 youth left foster care without a permanent home.[4]  Youth who leave care under such circumstances are more likely to have difficulty making a successful transition to adulthood which is demonstrated in research that shows of youth who age out of foster care, 24.4% at age 24 have not graduated or obtained an equivalency and 48% have not found steady work.[5]  Leveraging cross-agency partnerships to intervene earlier and more effectively can mitigate poor outcomes for these youth.  An example of a mutually beneficial partnership would be linking CFCIP programs with educational and employment focused programs that have been shown to produce improved outcomes for at-risk youth such as Job Corps or JOBSTART.[6]

Please see the Information Memorandum No. TANF-ACF-IM-2012-01, available on the Office of Family Assistance Web site at: /programs/ofa/resource/policy/im-ofa/2012/im20..., for additional guidance on how to target and structure your programming to include subsidized employment and related services.

Additionally, for guidance on how to partner with the CSBG State offices and local CSBG eligible entities, the CSBG Information Memorandum No. 129, can be found on the Office of Community Services Web site at: /programs/ocs/resource/csbg-information-memora....

We appreciate all that you do to help the vulnerable children and families in your States.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the TANF program manager in your region.




George H. Sheldon
Acting Assistant Secretary
    for Children and Families
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Jane Oates
Assistant Secretary
Employment and Training Administration
U.S. Department of Labor


[1] Pavetti, L., Schott, L., and Lower-Basch, E., Creating Subsidized Employment Opportunities for Low-Income Parents:  The Legacy of the TANF Emergency Fund, CBPP and CLASP, 2011. Visit disclaimer page

[2] Rosenberg, L., Angus, M., Pickens, C., and Derr, M., Using TANF Funds to Support Subsidized Youth Employment: The 2010 Summer Youth Employment Initiative, Mathematica Policy Research, 2011. Visit disclaimer page

[3] Bellotti, J., Rosenberg, L., Sattar, S., Mraz Esposito, A., and Ziegler, J., Reinvesting in America’s Youth:  Lessons from the 2009 Recovery Act Summer Youth Employment Initiative, Mathematica Policy Research, 2010. Visit disclaimer page

[4] Preliminary estimates for FY 2011:  The Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) Report #19, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth, and Families, Children’s Bureau.  /programs/cb/resource/afcars-report-19

[5] Courtney, M., Dworsky, A., Lee, J., & Raap, M. (2009) Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth:  Outcomes at age 23 and 24.  Chicago:  Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.

[6] Koball, H., et al. (2011).  Synthesis of Research and Resources to Support At- Risk Youth, OPRE Report # OPRE 2011-22, Washington, DC:  Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.


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