The City Council will likely renew a long-standing contract with Berkeley Youth Alternative to continue the employment program which assists at-risk teenagers learn about work habits and gardening skills in the city’s parks.
The recommendation will be considered by the council at Tuesday’s meeting. The $85,000 contract will allow for the continued employment of Berkeley teenagers to help maintain city parks while learning task-oriented responsibilities such as creek restoration and plant cultivation. The Youth Employment Training and Park Maintenance Project is one of three youth-oriented programs the Parks and Waterfront Department oversees.
“This is mutually beneficial program that helps the kids learn about good work habits and helps maintain Berkeley’s parks in a way they couldn’t with just city staff alone.” said Parks and Waterfront Director Lisa Caronna.
According to the recommendation, the program usually works with teenagers between 14 and 16 years old. They work an average of 10 hours a week for 26 weeks. Those that show progress will be asked to work beyond the initial 26 weeks and are offered assistance securing other jobs both within and outside the BYA program.
In the last two years, over 62 percent of the teenagers who were involved in the program were placed in other jobs, according to the report. In 1999, 14 of the 20 teenagers who participated in the program went on to other jobs.
The teenagers work at several city parks including Strawberry Creek Park, Grove Park and Thousand Oaks School Park and Blackberry Creek.
They are supervised by a BYA employee and are supervised by city landscape gardeners, who determine proper tools and monitor the work performed.
BYA operates more than 15 separate programs serving at-risk youth and their families in west Berkeley including an After School Center, a Crisis Counseling and a Sports and Fitness Center. In the last two years, BYA has worked with over 800 people ranging in age from three to 18 years of age, according to the recommendation’s report.