Skip to main content

Elk Grove Citizen

Standing Strong at the Crossroads

Dec 09, 2020 12:00AM ● By By Thomas J. Sullivan

Youth services case manager Matthew Rosario focuses on helping at-risk youth to build employment skills and gain first-time work experience through the Crossroads Youth Employment Program (YEP). Photo by Thomas J. Sullivan

Standing Strong at the Crossroads [2 Images] Click Any Image To Expand

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - At-risk, out-of-school young adults between the ages of 18-24 living in Sacramento County have until January 30th, 2021 to submit their applications to participate in the Crossroads Youth Employment Program (YEP), said Matthew Rosario, youth services case manager at the Crossroads Job Center in Citrus Heights.

The YEP program offers its participants an opportunity to build employment skills and gain first-time work experience.

Applications are taken first-come, first-serve, Rosario said. He recommends interested youth should call him at 916-676-2540, extension 322 to arrange to pick up an application packet.

“Once they contact the Sacramento Works Center, I’ll send them the necessary forms by email to get them enrolled as quickly as possible,” he said.

In partnership with the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA), Crossroads Diversified Services operates the Citrus Heights Sacramento Works Job Center at 7011 Sylvan Road, Suite A in Citrus Heights. The Youth Employment Program (YEP) is a year-round work experience program, funded by the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIOA).

“Right now, 17 positions are available, and the application deadline has been extended to January 30, 2021,” Rosario said. The current pay scale is $13.75 an hour for up to 200 hours of work, and the hourly wage will increase to the state’s new $14.00 minimum wage level in January 2021.

YEP applicants must be interested in giving back to their community, developing leadership skills, attending employment workshops, and completing up to 200 hours of paid work at a local business. Applications are accepted until all positions are filled, Rosario said.

The YEP program is specifically focused on at-risk youth who may not have internet or personal computer access. Program participants may be provided a laptop computer if needed.

“Many of the youth targeted by the (YEP) program are among our most vulnerable,” Rosario said. “They have a variety of challenges they are trying to overcome.”

“We’re helping at-risk youth with supportive services who may lack the technology to participate in remote sessions,” he said. “They just need to call our office to make the necessary arrangements.”

The application process consists of completing the YEP application packet, an interview with a case manager and completion of a certification appointment at the job center to enroll into the program. Once the application is completed, all candidates complete a series of pre-employment work readiness workshops to help prepare them to be successful employees, Rosario said.

YEP program participants are expected to complete all required workshops, work experience at a local business, a pre and post-test assessment if applicable and obtain employment after completing the program and/or enroll into post-secondary education, Rosario explained.

The Crossroads Job Center’s Citrus Heights branch has shifted its in-person operating hours to “by appointment only” due to the pandemic, Rosario said. The center offers job training and counseling assistance both online and by using Zoom video chat.

“When Covid hit, many local employers we had been working with significantly scaled back their hiring,” he said. “That is starting to change as employers are looking again to hire. We chiefly work with employers to find entry-level positions where participants in our program can build employment skills,” he said.

“We’re taking necessary steps to better prepare our applicants for work in this new job environment,” he said. Additional training in workplace safety standards has been updated to reflect California social distancing standards in the workplace, he said.

What makes a successful YEP program candidate?

“A positive attitude and an ability to be able to act respectfully and professionally at all times,” Rosario said. “We’ll help them with communication skills and address any issues, concerns or work-related problems to ensure their success.”

The YEP application checklist includes right to work documents, proof of an employment barrier and federal Selective Service Registration for males over 17 years of age. Proof of an employment barrier can include low income, proof of disability, parenting, pregnancy, probation or homelessness. Youth in former or current foster care environments are also considered with a letter from a social worker or applicable court documents, he said.

Participants learn to navigate the world of work by identifying and exploring future career occupations, employment preparation, leadership development, networking, and skill development.

“Our goal is to have all the participants in the YEP program fully commit to the year-long program,” he said.

“Participants must complete mandatory work readiness workshops before they are placed with an employer,” Rosario said. “At this time all workshops are done remotely via online video chat or assigned with specific activities to be done by email and Microsoft Powerpoint.”

“All of our workshop sessions are via one-on-one appointment and we’ve scheduled times which are flexible for our participants to attend,” Rosario said. Individual workshops include resume writing, career exploration, job searching strategies, interview preparation and mock interviewing.

Once in the program, YEP participants must agree to arrive on time to all workshops, program meetings, and work shifts, Rosario said. “If they are late or cannot make their work shift, they are required to call their case manager or employer in advance.”

YEP workshops also place emphasis on “soft skills” which Rosario said are especially critical to the success of new job seekers in the workplace. These include strengthening interpersonal communication skills, critical thinking skills and modeling professionalism in the workplace.

The Crossroads Job Center provides a host of resource services to assist individuals in finding, obtaining and keeping employment. Services include job seeker assessment tools, employment skills workshops, benefits counseling services, state Economic Development Department (EDD) Veterans Services referrals, state certified typing/data entry tests and “Ticket to Work” services.

The “Ticket to Work” program, a free and voluntary program which offers eligible job seekers age 18-64 who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Disability Income (SSI) benefits which provides choices, opportunities and support needed to find and keep employment, building a path towards self-sufficiency.

“We’re here to help,” Rosario said.

For more information on the Crossroads Youth Employment Program (YEP) contact Matthew Rosario, youth services case manager at 916-676-2540, extension 322. The Crossroads Job Center at 7011 Sylvan Road, Suite A, urges all job seekers to contact a workforce development representative at 916-676-2540 to schedule an appointment.