New Orleans summer programs return with improved payment process

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) –– Summer programs and workforce training are back for kids and teens, and city officials say they have resolved the payment issues that they faced last year.

Throughout June and July, youth between the ages of 4 and 17 can participate in daily educational, cultural and recreational activities. Teens will also have the opportunity to earn a $450 stipend for regular attendance.

This summer, the New Orleans Recreation Development (NORD) Commission is hiring over 150 lifeguards for the city’s 13 public pools. Those aged 15 and up who get certified can earn $17.16 per hour.

The Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development is relaunching its summer NOLA Youth Works program. It provides paid work experiences for over 1,000 youths aged 16 to 24 through partnerships with local employers.

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Last year, some of the teens said they never received payment.

“It was a small number of teens to where the bank accounts were closed, it was the wrong banking information, parents tried to put their own banking information, which wasn’t acceptable. We had some kids that showed up at a camp that wasn’t registered,” said CEO of NORD Larry Barabino Jr.

Director of the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development Sunae Villavaso shared that they have implemented specific changes to the payment process to ensure a smoother experience for all participants. “We are doing our due diligence, making sure that our kids are taken care of because we understand that for most, this is a much-needed check.”

This year, teens will get paper checks, job sites will have stricter deadlines to turn in timecards, and each camp will have QR codes to ensure teens are checking in to the right location. Officials say teens will get two stipend checks rather than one at the end of the summer.

They also stressed that the programs aim to keep kids engaged in safe, productive activities during the summer break.

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“To us, it’s about the experience way more than a stipend because it’s not a job, it’s a camp,” said Barabino.

He added that for many low-income families, the camps and workforce training also provide important meals, skills development and income assistance.

Applications for the NOLA Youth Works program are due by May 10.

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