Democrats Reinforce the Need for Student Safety in the Job Corps Program

WASHINGTON – TODAY, the Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing on student safety in the Job Corps program. Job Corps is the nation’s largest residential education and vocational training program, providing opportunities for about 60,000 disadvantaged youth annually at nearly 130 centers. For these young people, Job Corps is a ticket to achieving their educational goals, obtaining a well-paying job, serving in the military, and building a better future for themselves.

“We must work together to make sure Job Corps’ students and staff are living and working in safe environments, but we must not stop there. We must also stand together in strong support of Job Corps and its vital mission. We must recognize and appreciate the opportunities it provides for approximately 60,000 of America’s disadvantaged and vulnerable youth every year,” said Ranking Member Scott. “Job Corps provides a safer environment for these young people and is transformational for the overwhelming number of students who finish the program.” 

The safety, health, and security of Job Corps’ students and staff are critically important. Due to recent incidents that have gained national media attention, concerns regarding the safety and security of students at Job Corps centers have increased. The Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General has done important work in identifying issues that need to be addressed. As corrective action is taken, Congress must continue to oversee Job Corps while supporting its vital mission of serving our nation’s most disadvantaged youth.

“Maintaining the safety and security of our centers is of paramount importance,” said Mr. Jeff Barton, Academy Director at the Earle C. Clements Job Corps Academy.  “Our students regularly tell us stories about how they enrolled in Job Corps to escape gangs, an unstable home life, or an unsafe community that made it impossible to pursue their education and career goals. Unlike most schools, Job Corps operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every week of the year except for a short winter break over the holidays, during which students return home. Every single holiday break, I receive calls from students asking if they can return to the Job Corps center early because they are concerned about violence in their community, the temptation or peer pressure to use drugs, or their own safety. For many of our students, our centers are a refuge.”

In order to ensure the safety, health, and security of Job Corps’ students and staff, the Department of Labor must continue the corrective action initiated under the Obama administration and reaffirm its commitment to working with the Inspector General on ways to improve the Job Corps program. Committee Democrats look forward to working with the Department to ensure that students at Job Corps centers are safe and secure.

FULL OPENING STATEMENT: Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03)

FULL TESTIMONY: Jeff Barton, Academy Director, Earle C. Clements Job Corps Academy

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Arika Trim, 202-226-0853