Youth who want to work this summer, and later, may benefit from a program planned by the Community Action Program of East Central Oregon.

Chris Weissenfluh, CAPECO’s lead youth workforce development specialist, said the agency has developed a program to help youth ages 16-18 gain work readiness and work experience.

Umatilla County provided CAPECO with an $82,000 grant to fund the program, she said.

Weissenfluh said the county’s Commission on Children and Families visited area communities, speaking with teens about the barriers to finding and keeping a job. Youngsters said the recession and competition with adults were two of the greatest barriers.

CAPECO plans seven work readiness classes throughout the county in June. The agency expects to accommodate about 100 youth. The six-hour sessions will be conducted for:

•Ukiah, June 1

•Stanfield and Echo, June 7

•Athena, Weston and Helix, June 8

•Hermiston, June 13

•Milton-Freewater, June 14

•Pendleton, Pilot Rock, June 16

•Umatilla, to be announced.

Weissenfluh said the classes cover job applications, interviewing, the work ethic, harassment, safety and other topics. Youth interested in attending the classes should call CAPECO’s youth department at 541-276-1926.

Of the 100 who attend the work-readiness classes, Weissenfluh said 40 teens will have an opportunity for work experience this summer. The grant will pay their minimum-wage salaries for up to 180 hours or about 4.5 weeks at 40 hours per week.

“We’re recruiting work sites in all the local towns,” she said, adding that CAPECO specifically has targeted school districts, cities, parks and recreation departments and hospitals.

Organizations interested in having a work-experience employee should call the same number, Weissenfluh said.

A primary goal of the program is to keep teens out of the juvenile justice system. Those who are, or are involved with the state Children, Adults and Families Division are ineligible.

“We’re working really closely with school counselors to recruit kids,” Weissenfluh said. “We already have a list of kids, but not all slots are full.”

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