(get it? MOM-dar like Radar?) Anyone else have it? I think all moms have it. I’m not a hyper-vigilant mom. I’m not completely lax either. I’m just kind of in the middle. There are so very many things to worry about, I hate to limit myself to just the kids all day and everyday. Thus far, it’s worked out ok – the kids are alive and not noticeably traumatized (That’s a whole new post – Good Lord! That they don’t kill me in my sleep is a wonder some nights!)

Anyway . . . Dan has started his job. It’s going well and we’re all relieved. It’s good for everyone that he’s working and saving and taking part in the finances of his life now before he’s out on his own. About two weeks ago Dan mentioned to me that I would need to sign something saying it was OK for him (a high school junior) to work during traditional school hours. This was fine by me as he does most of his school work in the evenings. It’s all about how you divide your 24 hours, right?

This morning he handed me some papers to sign. These were not permission for him to work during the school day forms. These were government forms declaring him to be a “Disconnected Youth.” Huh? Poor Danny. What he thought was going to be a one minute encounter turned into a whole big hairy deal.

I googled Disconnected Youth and discovered that it is defined as a young person 16-24 who has not regularly attended school or been employed for the past six months. Dan’s manager apparently sees homeschooling as “no school.” Other definitions of “disconnected youth” I found mentioned “at risk,” “neglected,” “unsupported,” and “lacking direction” youths – did I mention “gangs?” GAH! That’s not my son. That’s NOT my family. If you’ve read here for any length of time, I think that’s obvious, please don’t call Child/Family Services!

Attached to the forms were things for Dan to sign (without my knowledge) reaffirming that he was a disconnected youth and that his employer can then submit to the government in exchange for a tax credit subsidized by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (aka Stimulus). And, I’m sure there are similar programs under other modern presidents, my research time was limited today.

I wrote a succinct note to the store manager explaining our homeschool status and Dan’s status as a full-time student. I also explained that he had his father’s and my permission to work during “traditional” school hours as needed. I further explained that I could not in good conscience sign the attached forms, nor could I allow my son to sign one.

To Danny’s horror (I remember being 17, too.) The response to my note involved calls to regional offices and a terse call to me explaining that everything had been worked out. She said they were just surprised because everyone signed those forms.
We’ll see. I have a feeling if the store has any cutbacks, Dan will be the first to go.

Am I nuts or is this incredibly disturbing on a number of levels? One, corporations encouraging YOUNG employees to sign forms they don’t read or understand to get a tax credit. Two, the government collecting names of “disconnected youth” around the country. Three, I saw nothing in the paperwork to account for how long a “disconnected youth” was to be employed – do they get cut when the program ends? is the employer penalized if they lose a “disconnected youth?” Even if it’s a 23 year-old heading of to grad school?

I wonder how misconstrued the numbers will be when the government starts pushing for a new education or service program? I’m all for targeting KIDS (those under 18) who need a chance. I’m even all for employers getting a credit for taking those kids under their wing. But, those numbers need to be real numbers. Danny, I promise is/never has been at risk for joining a gang, dropping out of school, living on the streets, dealing drugs or even going more than a week with fingernails I deem too long!

I worry that 16-24 year olds are being lumped into one category. They are NOT remotely close. 16-17 and even 18 – high school aged kids are not all cut out to go to college. Why not give employers an incentive to teach the kids who cannot manage school a trade or simply gainfully employ them? Lots of people hate high school and turn things around once they have a chance to grow up. Lots of people hate high school and go on to start their own businesses and do very well for themselves. Lots of people hate high school and just work hard and manage very well, thank you.

18 and up? 18 is an adult right? Why is it anyone’s business if they’re going to school or not? 18-24? When did this turn into “youths” someone needs to track? Sure, they’re young and they’re all going to do incredibly stoopid things, but that’s the great part of being a new adult, isn’t it? Those are the years where you really grow up. Or, imo, those are the years you really HAVE to grow up.

But, now we can call them ‘disconnected youths?’ Really? Unless you are the most exceptional kid on the planet, being 16-18 makes you a ‘disconnected youth’ and that can mean a lot of things. In one family it might mean a 16 year-old questioning going to church with the family or it might mean curfew fights. But, generally, 16-18 are the years where kids question EVERYTHING. If you’re 19-24, ummm not so much … you’re NOT a kid. The curve should be moving UP at this point. And, when the curve slopes down, it’s your fault, not your parents or your upbringing or your whatever … it’s all you and you have the means to turn things around.

Ugh … it all left me feeling paranoid and unsettled

8 thoughts on “MOM-dar

  1. Yes that is unsettling, very unsettling. Do you have any journalist friends? Some one who can do more research and maybe bring more attention to the subject? You are correct, this will probably become social service soon.

  2. You are NOT being paranoid. That is not only unethical, it is illegal. It is fraud. I congratulate you on 1) looking up the term and 2) refusing to be a part of fraudulent behavior.

    Danny, let this be a much needed lesson to you. People will try to slide things by and say they don't matter. Signing something is putting your word of honor to the truth of what you've signed. ARE you at-risk for dealing drugs or becoming homeless? ARE you neglected? If not, you cannot pretend to be.

    This programs exists to help people with minimal skills or at risk for completely screwing up their lives get a job even though the employer knows that they're going to need a LOT of extra training because they lack even the basics. That's why the employer gets a stipend – to pay for the extra unproductive training time those employees need to get those basic skills.

    (And frankly, Danny, your mom was a lot nicer than I me. I would have called that program's federal office and reported the employer for attempted fraud after the first “but everyone's doing it” comment. One more reason to appreciate your mom today.)

  3. That is unsettling and I agree with a lot of what Obi-Mom Kenobi said too! First rule of paperwork is READ IT and second rule is ASK QUESTIONS. You would not believe how many people just signed forms without much of a glance back in my former life as a human resource person.

  4. Oh, HELL no, we wouldn't be signing those papers. I won't even go into the less-than-sparkly motives behind those numbers, b/c you've obviously nailed several of them. No way. No how. I'm so mad right now, I can hardly think in full sentences, let alone type.

  5. This is a case of the government using our kids to dole out more money to people other than our kids! I agree with Obi-Mom about the stipend going towards the unproductive time a real at-risk kid will be spending getting up to speed in the work place. And, to be fair, it is the employer and not the government that is at fault here. The employer saw a way to make some more bucks by throwing your kid under the proverbial bus to get labeled as a disconnected youth!

    Man I am pissed! May I link this to my blog? Parents need to read this and know what is going on!

  6. Thanks, everyone. Mrs. Duck, our neighbor works for the local paper and I'm going to ask him if he knows of a reporter who might be interested. There's a lot of money at stake.

    Obi-mom – I showed Danny your comment and he gets it. Thanks for the reinforcement – and for being the meaner mom!

    Karen, by all means, link this to your blog. You might want to like my post right above this as well – as a “warning” to homeschoolers.

  7. I read your post, then I had to call a friend and read it to her!

    You are an AMAZING mom! I would have marched down there and shown they a disconnected mom!!!

  8. I remember programs like this from my “yout” but had to qualify. You were handed a form. You filled out basic info (name, birthdate) The employer handed you a phone had you dial a number and told you to answer honestly. You spoke to someone and answered yes or no questions. She/he gave you a number you wrote on the form. The form went off to human resources. Human resources called a different number with the number on your form and then they told them if they got some sort of tax credit for you and could apply for a special program for paying for your training.

    I think this has been around for a while but some person on the other end of the phone decided if you met criteria.

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