08:41 AM

St. Louis County Family Court and MERS Goodwill receive $500,000 federal grant

Funding will be used to help youth develop job skills, avoid delinquency

CLAYTON, MO – November 9, 2020 – The St. Louis County Family Court and MERS Goodwill, Inc. have received a $500,000 three-year federal grant to provide career training, professional development and employment opportunities for court-involved youth. Funding from the federal Office of Justice Programs will be used to provide career counseling, job readiness training, volunteer job opportunities, and help for youth in finding and keeping jobs. About 22 percent of the population of St. Louis County is under the age of 18.

“By expanding access to employment programs for youth in our community, we can prevent the need for detention, reduce recidivism and increase job-readiness,” said Judge Sandra Farragut-Hemphill, Administrative Judge of the St. Louis County Family Court. “The program will benefit not only the young participants but also the broader community as our youth gain the skills they need to succeed at work and stay out of trouble.”

The Court’s impetus for pursuing the grant resulted from direct community feedback, said Tymesha Buckner-Dobynes, Director of Court Programs for the Family Court. Unemployment among teens is a chronic problem across the nation. As of last month, the unemployment rate for youth under the age of 18 in St. Louis County was nearly 14 percent – twice the national average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Young people reported that they wanted and needed jobs, not only to help support their families but also to prevent them from engaging in delinquent acts,” Buckner-Dobynes said.

Twelve- and 13-year-olds will be given training in interpersonal skills for the workplace, and help them set career goals. Youth ages 14-15, a group identified as having the greatest need for employment services, will be given career readiness training and eight-week paid internships with local businesses. The grant will allow the Family Court to provide services to twice as many young people in this age group.

Funding also will be used to give youth ages 16-17 career counseling, individual or group counseling, volunteer work experience, and jobs with local businesses. They will receive at least 90 days of follow-up services including help obtaining state IDs needed to apply for jobs.

For more information contact:

Christine Bertelson, Director of Strategic Communications

St. Louis County Circuit Court

105 South Central Avenue Clayton, MO 63105