Lawmakers should increase funding programs that provide services for vulnerable youth, including young men of color and those disconnected from school and work, to keep young people connected and put them on a career or college path, advocates say.
Arbitrary sequester caps continue to produce anemic federal budgets, which means the core programs on which low-income people depend are flat or shrinking, according to a new white paper from the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP).
Proposed congressional funding bills for FY 2016 would continue this trend, making cuts to workforce and education programs. Since 2008, Department of Labor Youth Activities funding has decreased by nearly 15%. Communities of color have been hit especially hard by disinvestment; youth of color, particularly vulnerable youth, simply don’t have the resources they need to succeed, the paper said.
For example, the national on-time high school graduation rate has risen to 81%—a 6.3% increase since 2010. However, unpacking this data by race reveals severe disparities in who’s graduating. Students of color are less likely to finish school within four years. And, 75% of Latino students, 75% of African American students, and 70% of American Indian students graduate from high school, compared to 87% of White students.
The federal budget’s spending levels are based on sequester caps; as a result, even the most modest increases require offsets in other areas. Congress and the president must lift funding caps, so that significant investments can be made in programs that help low-income families, the paper said.