The big financial institutions aren’t the only ones getting economic stimulus packages from the Obama administration. Federal dollars also went to various programs that work with low-income clients. Locally, money was made available through Workforce Solutions For Tarrant County, a partnership among several agencies and community groups to ensure economic vitality and job opportunities, including for youths.
But many of those youngsters have only been stimulated to cry foul. They were promised $7.25 an hour to work as tutors and clerks for 35 hours a week beginning on July 10, and haven’t been paid yet. They expected their first checks on July 17 and were to be paid weekly after that.
“We haven’t received anything since we’ve started this program,” said a 21-year-old Fort Worth woman who asked for anonymity because she feared repercussions from the agencies involved, which include Workforce Solutions, Tarrant County College, and the Fort Worth Housing Authority. “There’s got to be laws for children working and not getting paid. We’re all getting frustrated.”
A 17-year-old said she needs her paycheck to buy food for her baby and to pay their rent. She received a debit card from Workforce Solutions that was supposed to provide her income, but “there’s nothing on it,” she said.
Those young women said they were referred to the program by the Housing Authority, but when they tried to call their caseworker for information they are either ignored or given the runaround, they said.
Fort Worth pastor Kyev Tatum said about 20 kids in his ROOTS Academy have been stiffed, and he’s growing more perturbed by the day. Tatum said Workforce Solutions and the other agencies involved are paying their own employees but denying the kids their money. He described it as a “top-down approach, trickle-down economics that is not trickling down to the ones who really need it.”
Housing Authority spokeswoman Alice Sykes said most of the agencies are subcontractors, but that the buck stops at Workforce Solutions, which administers the jobs program. “They hold all the funding,” she said. “That’s part of the frustration that we have as well.”
Gladys Emerson, TCC’s director of workforce services, said all the participating agencies are working diligently to fix the problem. “We have had some payroll issues but those issues to my knowledge are in the process of being resolved,” she said. “That will be occurring very shortly, we hope.”
She added that some of the children haven’t supplied caseworkers with appropriate paperwork, such as identification. “Some responsibility also lies with the kids and parents because you have to produce the right documents,” she said.
But Tatum said the children have supplied the requested paperwork numerous times to no avail. “They keep asking for the same information over and over,” he said. “The children have sent out their ID cards and Social Security cards and birth certificates four times. We made copies of everything from the beginning. For them to put the blame on the kids is disingenuous and wrong, and they ought to be ashamed of themselves. … The grownups don’t want to take responsibility. They want to blame the kids. They ought to get out of the business of working with young people if they aren’t going to take responsibility as adults.”
Workforce Solutions did not respond to Static’s phone calls, but the bureaucratic wheels seem to have started turning. Static is happy to provide any extra grease needed. Stay tuned.