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NYS Comptroller


NEWS from the Office of the New York State Comptroller

Contact: Press Office 518-474-4015

DiNapoli: Lax Oversight of Summer Jobs and After School Programs Provider
Led to Contract Violations

Contractor Hired Manager's Kids, Wrongly Charged Parents Fees, Skipped Students
Waiting for Spots in Favor of Others

June 28, 2019

A non-profit, paid millions by New York City to provide summer jobs and after school programs for youth, violated its contract by charging parents “enrollment fees” and hiring its own executives’ children, among other troubling findings, according to an audit released today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

The New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) contracted with the Queens-based Greater Ridgewood Youth Council to run a Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) and Comprehensive Afterschool System Program (COMPASS). Ridgewood had 27 contracts with DYCD worth $13.9 million to provide SYEP and COMPASS services from July 1, 2015 through Oct. 10, 2017.

“We found management lapses that undermine the intended benefits of these youth programs,” DiNapoli said. “Young men and women looking for work or for an afterschool program were shortchanged. DYCD needs to take immediate steps to improve oversight and accountability.”

SYEP provides young men and women, ages 14 to 24, paid summer jobs. In 2017, SYEP served more than 69,700 participants on a budget of $124.9 million. The jobs are awarded by lottery and providers, such as Ridgewood, get up to $325 for each participant, who earn hourly wages from DYCD for up to 25 hours a week.

DYCD’s COMPASS contracts with local providers offer children academic support, arts, cultural experiences and sports/recreation activities when school is not in session. Providers, such as Ridgewood, get up to $2,800 for each enrolled student. More than 126,600 students citywide participated in Fiscal Year 2018.

DiNapoli’s audit examined three of Ridgewood’s largest contracts, with a combined value of $4.1 million. They included a $1.1 million SYEP contract, a $1.1 million COMPASS contract at P.S. 153 (Queens) and a $1.9 million COMPASS contract at I.S. 77 (Queens).

DiNapoli’s audit found:

  • Ridgewood repeatedly told auditors it does not charge fees to enroll in COMPASS, yet nine of 19 parents who responded to the auditor’s survey stated that they paid Ridgewood fees — ranging from $100 to $900 — to enroll their children. One parent, who told auditors he paid $700 in 2016 and $500 in 2017, said it was “required” and that “everyone pays it.” The parent added that shortly before speaking with auditors he was informed by Ridgewood that his child had “won the lottery” and the 2018 fee of $500 was being refunded.
  • Ridgewood employed managerial employees’ family members in violation of its contracts.
    • The daughter of Ridgewood’s chief operating officer made $14,376 working for SYEP.
    • The son of Ridgewood’s Executive Director held titles including educational specialist, educational director and grant writer. He telecommuted from North Carolina, despite job responsibilities requiring his presence in Queens. Ridgewood charged $12,200 of the son’s compensation to SYEP and COMPASS contracts.
    • The daughter of a Ridgewood work site supervisor earned $10,236 as a COMPASS group leader. The supervisor approved her own daughter’s time sheets.
  • Students may not have been selected fairly for COMPASS. 257 students at P.S. 153 and I.S. 77 were enrolled ahead of 50 students who had applied earlier, including some who were on the waiting list for months. Ridgewood did not explain why.
  • In 2017, 168 applicants for summer jobs through Ridgewood never showed up to their placements. The jobs went unfilled and auditors found no evidence DYCD sought eligible applicants to replace them.
  • 28 of the 31 Ridgewood employees who worked for COMPASS and also took jobs through SYEP duplicated their hours, charging nearly $20,000 for 1,344.5 overlapping work hours. Moreover, allowing them to take summer jobs, while already employed by Ridgewood, not only defeated the purpose of the jobs program to introduce youth to the job market, but also took slots from other SYEP applicants.

DiNapoli’s audit recommended several actions for the DYCD to take in order to remedy the broad array of problems identified, address inappropriate payments, and improve its monitoring and oversight of the afterschool and summer employment contracts. Among these recommendations, the audit said the agency should:

  • Develop a mechanism to match eligible youth with vacant SYEP positions.
  • Review and recover duplicate compensation paid to the 28 SYEP participants who were also employed in COMPASS.
  • Ensure the COMPASS selection process is fair and appropriate.
  • Ensure that parents are not charged fees for COMPASS participation.
  • Ensure that providers do not employ relatives of managerial employees.

In response the audit findings and recommendations, the agency stated that:

  • If DYCD determines the payments by parents were improper, it will take steps to recoup the money.
  • DYCD will train staff on conflict of interest provisions.
  • DYCD will consider having providers document their enrollment and selection of students for afterschool programs.
  • DYCD will conduct its own audit of Ridgewood and recover any duplicated costs it can identify.
  • There were no remaining applicants available to place at Ridgewood and fill the open jobs.

The agency’s full response is included in the audit, which is available here:

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