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Committee on Education and the Workforce Demand Answers on Lapses in Job Corps Safety and Security

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC),  held a hearing yesterday to examine the shocking and systemic lapses in security and safety surrounding the Job Corps program. 

The hearing is part of an ongoing two-year investigation the committee has conducted into the lack of safety measures the Job Corps program has failed to implement at program sites around the country.

“The work of this committee, as well as other government bodies such as the Inspector General, have found a systemic and alarming lack of oversight in the safety and security of the Job Corps program, and we have reached a critical point where lives are in real danger if Congress does not act,” said Chairwoman Foxx.

The committee specifically touched on multiple warning flags raised by the Inspector General (IG) when it conducted a safety and security audit of Job Corps sites.

What the IG’s investigation found was truly alarming:
  • Over 30 different government reports and audits have raised concerns over the safety and security of the Job Corps program.
  •  A 2009 IG report even noted that “40 percent of 235 significant incidents occurring at [six] centers during our audit period were not reported.”
  • Even in 2015, an IG report specifically stated, “Job Corps needs to improve enforcement and oversight of student disciplinary policies to better protect students and staff."

"Too many safety and security incidents occur at Job Corps sites, and this is cause for concern," said Cindy Brown Barnes, the GAO's director of education workforce and income security.

Larry Turner, DOL's deputy inspector general testified, “Without a safe learning environment for students and staff, Job Corps will struggle to meet its core mission of attracting young people who face economic disadvantages or come from debilitating environments, teaching them the skills they need to become employable and independent, and placing them in meaningful jobs or further education.”

“I’m appalled at the dismissal of safety concerns that we’ve heard today. It’s quite obvious, despite what some people are saying, that safety and security are not paramount in these centers, or we would not be seeing the horrific number of deaths and violent behavior that we’ve heard about today,” said Rep. Foxx at the close of the hearing. “We have ongoing work to delve deeper into the issue, and this is something we cannot gloss over.”

The committee will take the recommendations of the IG, and continue to work with the relevant stakeholders to make the Job Corps program safe for those associated with the program, and accountable for the American taxpayers.