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Letter to Seth D. Harris, Acting Secretary of Labor - End Student Enrollment Freeze

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Connecticut's entire congressional delegation today called on the Department of Labor (DOL) to end the current freeze on student enrollment as soon as possible at Job Corps centers in New Haven, Hartford and nationwide. Congress passed legislation this week funding the federal government and giving DOL the authority to immediately transfer funds to the Job Corps program to end the freeze.

"The enrollment freeze has resulted in significant restraints on the ability of the high performing New Haven and Hartford, Connecticut Job Corps centers to operate and provide critical services to students" they wrote. "Rather than a broad freeze on student enrollment, we believe ETA could develop a more strategic approach to achieving the necessary cost savings in this program year that takes advantage of any opportunity to transfer available funds and minimize the impact on centers like those in Connecticut. Our hope is that with this new transfer authority, as well as individualized contract modification with Jobs Corps center operators, you can end the student enrollment freeze."

DOL suspended new enrollment for Job Corps centers nationwide in January, due to a budget shortfall. The delegation wrote to Acting Secretary Seth Harris at that time, expressing their concern with the decision (letter attached).

Started in 1964, Job Corps is an education and training program that helps young people learn a career, earn a high school diploma or GED, and find and keep a good job. For eligible young people at least 16 years of age that qualify as low income, Job Corps provides the all-around skills needed to succeed in a career and in life.

Today's letter follows in full:

March 22, 2013

The Honorable Seth D. Harris

Acting Secretary of Labor

Frances Perkins Building

200 Constitution Ave NW

Washington, DC 20210

Dear Acting Secretary Harris,

We write once again to express our concern with the Employment and Training Administration's (ETA) ongoing freeze on student enrollments at Job Corps centers across the country and to encourage you to use the tools at your disposal, including the transfer authority contained in the Fiscal Year 2013 Continuing Appropriations Act (H.R. 933) recently passed by both the House and Senate, to end the freeze as soon as possible.

The enrollment freeze has resulted in significant restraints on the ability of the high performing New Haven and Hartford, Connecticut Job Corps centers to operate and provide critical services to students. In New Haven, 55 young adults set to be admitted were not enrolled and a number of already accepted students on medical leave have been unable to return to the program. In Hartford, 132 projected students were denied enrollment because of the suspension and many of these students, like those in New Haven, need already stretched public assistance as they await the opportunity to join the program. Moreover, the New Haven center cut 14 staff members because of the shortfall and the Hartford center projects that 33 percent of its staff will need to be let go as a result of the enrollment freeze.

As you know, H.R. 933 allows ETA to transfer up to $30 million to the Office of Jobs Corps for operations in program years 2012 and 2013, and requires that of this amount, at least $10 million must be transferred within 30 days of the legislation's imminent signing to provide some immediate relief for the current shortfall for the 2012 program year ending on June 30.

As we previously wrote, rather than a broad freeze on student enrollment, we believe ETA could develop a more strategic approach to achieving the necessary cost savings in this program year that takes advantage of any opportunity to transfer available funds and minimize the impact on centers like those in Connecticut. Our hope is that with this new transfer authority, as well as individualized contract modification with Jobs Corps center operators, you can end the student enrollment freeze. We respectfully urge you to act promptly, and to update us on your plan to address this critical issue.

We recognize that along with the shortfall for this program year, the Department of Labor is operating in a highly constrained budgetary environment, particularly in light of sequestration. Nevertheless, we hope to see a strong funding request for this important program in the Department's upcoming Fiscal Year 2014 budget proposal and look forward to working with you to ensure the program is on more stable footing in program year 2013 and beyond.

We continue to be strong supporters of the Jobs Corps program, firmly believing that it plays a critical role providing young people with vital job training opportunities so that they realize success as adults. In today's economy, the mission of the program is as critical as ever.

Thank you for your consideration of this important request.

Sincerely,

Richard Blumenthal

Chris Murphy

Rosa DeLauro

John Larson

Joe Courtney

Jim Himes

Elizabeth Esty


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