City council member calls for hearings on Philadelphia Youth Network after summer of complaints about unpaid teens

City council member calls for hearings on Philadelphia Youth Network after recent articles by The Inquirer detailed complaints from teens who had to wait weeks to get paid for their summer jobs under the Work Ready program .

Council member Isaiah Thomas said he would introduce a resolution on Thursday to authorize the education commission to investigate “concerns about delays in workers’ compensation.”

“When we get young people who want to make the right decision, want to make a quality decision, or put them in a position to spend their time in a positive way and put themselves in a position where they can advance their professional careers,” Thomas said Wednesday, “The last thing we need is for barriers to be put in place to prevent them from being able to do this.”

“I wanted to use my money and it was frustrating that they didn’t pay me when they said they were.”

Sheila De La Cruz, a teenager from North Philadelphia

Thomas said his office had employed young people through the PYN and he had been frustrated by the nonprofit’s struggles to pay its employees reliably.

PYN’s Work Ready program has been at the center of complaints this summer from suppliers, parents and teenage workers.

Sheila De La Cruz, a teenager from North Philadelphia who only got paid after her summer job as a game captain ended, said: “I wanted to use my money and it was frustrating that they didn’t pay me at the time. they said they were.

READ MORE: Philadelphia organizations complain after nonprofits grope paying teen workers

The Inquirer reported last month that the heads of six organizations complained about late or incomplete payments in an Aug. 15 letter to the downtown-based nonprofit.

Rebecca Fabiano, executive director of Fab Youth Philly, one of 80 Philadelphia organizations that Work Ready refers children to, said at the time, “I don’t know of any adults who would come back to work after not getting paid their first two weeks on the job. … This is their very first professional experience for most young people. And we inadvertently teach them that we don’t care about them.

PYN has since pledged to make changes to its payment systems, begin direct deposits and work more closely with vendors.

READ MORE: Philadelphia Youth Network promises changes to Work Ready program after summer of complaints

For fiscal year 2023, the city’s Office of Children and Families gave PYN about $7.9 million in state and city money for Work Ready, which funds about half of the salaries paid by Work Ready.

Thomas said he believed he had all the necessary support from other board members to call a hearing to look into PYN’s struggles to pay the children, which Fabiano called an “open secret among claimants.” “.

He added: “Anyone who watches this summer as well as last summer, I’m pretty sure they’ll say we haven’t done a good job as a city, preparing voters in regards to the needs, but more specifically to prepare our children.

Thursday’s city council meeting will be streamed on the city’s website at 11 a.m.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

The journalism of The Inquirer is supported in part by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism and readers like you. News and editorial content is created independently of The Inquirer donors. Gifts to support The Inquirer’s high-impact journalism can be made to inquirer.com/donate. A list of Lenfest Institute donors is available at lenfestinstitute.org/supporters.

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