GEORGETOWN - There's absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to become a hairdresser or makeup stylist, but teenagers and young adults should at least be aware that there are more career opportunities available.
This summer, at least one youth switched her professional aspirations after taking part in the Summer Youth Volunteer Program sponsored by the Administrative Office of the Courts and the Department of Services for Children, Youth, and Their Families, Division of Family Services, Independent Living Program.
In the fourth-year program, 58 participants from ages 14 to 21 were introduced to working in various offices of the judicial system, which included all of the state court branches, along with the Capitol Police Department and private law firms, among others.
"We had a girl enter the program who had always thought of becoming a hairdresser or makeup stylist, and now wants to get involved with something in the field of law," said Christina Harrison, director of the state's Family Court Appointed Special Advocates program who oversees Sussex County's participants in the program.
Another young woman's personality blossomed when she was placed at the front desk of a law firm while serving as a receptionist.
"The first week she was quiet and reserved, but by the second week a new side of her had come out and she really seemed to have it down," said program founder Robin Jenkins, manager of support systems for the Administrative Office of the State Court.
During the six-week program, participants are introduced to the rigors and routines of working in an office, and execute tasks that often involve filing, archiving and basic database information of non- sensitive information that the understaffed court personnel just doesn't have time to get to.
In the AOC's Judicial Information Center, which provides technology and information services to the Judicial Branch, participants help set up and deliver computers to court users.
The workers are not paid, but receive training on interview and resume skills and witness a mock trial to see the justice system at work.
"Another benefit is allowing the participants an insider view of how the judiciary system works, from the employees to a look at the process of being in court," said Amy Quinlan of the Administrative Office of the Courts.
The program runs at locations in Kent, Sussex and New Castle counties from July 10 to Aug. 16, and involves reporting for duty from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesdays through Thursdays.
Ms. Jenkins said the program was developed in part because the court staff was overwhelmed by tasks that were eventually shelved due to a lack of time; the court system was in search of ways to remedy the lack of personnel, and she came up with a benefit to state youth in the foster care system as well.
"I believe this is a great way of giving back to the community," Ms. Jenkins said. "It allows kids and young adults to be introduced to the working world and allows them to find out whether they like being in an office setting or want to go back to school and study some more to pursue another profession."
The Division of Family Services, working in conjunction with the AOC, places many foster care youths in the program, including those in the independent living program who are about to age out of the system.
"The kids are excited and happy to work in a legal setting," Ms. Harrison said.
Participating organizations include the Delaware Supreme Court, the Superior Court, the Court of Common Pleas, the Family Court, the AOC, including the JIC and Office of the State Court Collections Enforcement, the Department of Justice, the Public Defender's Office, Capitol Police Department, the Child Death, Near Death and Stillborn Commission, and private law firms.
Staff writer Craig Anderson can be reached at 741-8296 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter@DSNAnderson.