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Effective jobs program needs funding restored - Brenda Smith

To the editor:

Recently, at President Obama’s Atkinson, Ill., Town Hall Meeting, Pam Dennis of the Henry County Community Action Agency cited Experience Works as an example of a program that helps people keep their heads above water.

The program Ms. Dennis was referring to is the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), operated by Experience Works.

This year, Congress cut funding for the program by 45 percent, despite its long record of success working with older workers, employers, and thousands of community partners.

Even the U.S. General Accounting Office reported that it is one of the few non-duplicative Department of Labor workforce programs, and more importantly, one of the few that dedicates the majority of its funding to the unemployed poor.

At this time, more older individuals than ever are desperate for income, and are tirelessly searching for work to make ends meet, but need help retooling their skills.

Due to the reduction in funding, the Senior Community Service Employment Program is able to help fewer employers, and thousands of jobseekers are on waiting lists.

As President Obama prepares to speak to the nation about jobs, both the Administration and Congress need to rethink the drastic reduction in funding, and reinvest in the Senior Community Service Employment Program –– a jobs program that works.

BRENDA SMITH,

Employment & Training Coordinator

Representing Henry and Clayton counties