Harrisburg, Pa.– This summer, Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. has placed close to 200 young people who have disabilities or face other employment barriers in work experiences across Pennsylvania. A partnership with YAP and the Pennsylvania Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), the summer jobs program has grown since it began in 2021 from a handful of employers to 50.
“We started the program three summers ago with 10 kids,” said YAP National Coordinator of Developmental Disabilities Programs Lori Burrus. “A huge contributor to our growth came last year when OVR extended employer eligibility from for-profit companies only to also include nonprofits and local governments.”
The summer employment program is part of MY Work, created by OVR to provide high school students with disabilities the chance to work at jobs in their communities. The goal is to give participants essential employability skills that allow them to become successfully employed in a competitive integrated environment following graduation.
In addition to placing students ages 16-21 with disabilities in summer jobs across the state, the program allows YAP to connect participating employers with other young people who typically have a tough time finding work – those who live in rural communities, and/or individuals who have been justice system involved. Headquartered in Harrisburg, YAP is a national nonprofit in 35 states and Washington, D.C. that partners with youth justice, child welfare, behavioral health, and other systems to provide services in homes, schools, and communities as an alternative to residential care and youth incarceration.
YAP matches program participants based on their interests with participating employers near their homes. Through OVR’s collaboration with local governments and nonprofits, some participants work on public space beautification projects or with children’s summer programs.
YAP has placed participants in jobs with employers in 20 counties throughout the state including: Adams; Berks; Bradford; Carbon; Crawford; Franklin; Huntingdon; Juniata; Lackawanna; Lancaster; Lebanon; Mercer; Mifflin; Monroe; Northampton; Philadelphia; Pike; Schuylkill; Susquehanna, and York.
YAP expects to continue expanding summer employment opportunities through the OVR partnership. OVR plans to continue expanding the MY Work program to all 67 PA counties by 2024.
Learn more about YAP at yapinc.org and follow the organization on Twitter @YAPInc.