(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