July 25, 2013

Demise of Maine jobs program leads to finger-pointing

The Department of Corrections and Jobs for Maine Graduates each says the other chose not to continue the contract.

By Noel K. Gallagher ngallagher@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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There is no mention of Jobs for Maine Graduates in the document.

Jobs for Maine's Graduates, an Augusta-based nonprofit, has been operating a program at Long Creek for about 12 years, and at Mountain View for about 10 years, Larrabee said.

The contracts at both facilities were for about $60,000 a year, covering 100 percent of the cost of the program, including a full-time Jobs for Maine's Graduates program manager. Most of its programs are in public schools, where the cost is split between the local school district, Jobs for Maine's Graduates and private funding.

Larrabee said the end of the program in the detention centers wasn't a complete surprise. For the last "six or seven years" the contract has been in jeopardy because of tight state budgets, he said.

New superintendents are now in place at both juvenile corrections facilities, and they are in the process of determining whether they need the program, he said.

"It's a natural stoppage of the partnership right now," Larrabee said Tuesday, before being told that Goodwill took over the job training program. "If I was in their position, I'd want to assess internal capacity before going out and hiring a third party. If there are inner resources, then from a taxpayer's perspective, they should be doing that."

"Personally, I hope we do get the opportunity to work with Corrections in the future," Larrabee said.

Linnell said Long Creek officials were already starting to phase in having corrections employees to do similar work about a year before he left.

Linnell said he generally worked with about 100 young people a year through the Long Creek program, with as many as 10 of them working off site.

Jobs for Maine's Graduates has an annual budget of $7 million, with $2.7 million coming from private funds, $2.6 million in state Department of Education funds, and $1.7 million from local school district funds. In the last legislative session, an additional $600,000 for the program proposed by the LePage administration was not approved. 

Staff Writer Noel K. Gallagher can be contacted at 791-6387 or at:



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