Dalio Education teamed up with Boston Consulting Group to study Connecticut’s youth population and it found 19% of the state’s youth, ages 14-26, faced circumstances over the past few years that either put them at risk or entirely disconnected them from vital systems like education and employment.
“Disconnection often results in outcomes such as financial insecurity, higher rates of crime and homelessness,” the report states. “Our report seeks to better understand this at-risk and disconnected population, including thorough analysis of statewide longitudinal data. Given that these individuals represent the future of Connecticut, we consider how Connecticut stakeholders can better identify, reconnect, and support them.”
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- Out of the state’s 615,000 young individuals, 119,000 were either at risk or disconnected. This includes 63,000 who were completely disconnected and another 12,000 who were deemed “severely disconnected,” meaning they lacked both employment and a high school diploma or equivalent.
- The remaining 51,000 were categorized as “moderately disconnected,” which encompasses high school graduates not employed or enrolled in postsecondary education, and non-graduates who are employed.
- Despite efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic to engage the youth, chronic absenteeism, which shot up by 97% from 2017 to 2022, threatens the future of 1 in 3 Connecticut high school students.
- The economic prospects for these disconnected youths are dim, with only 40% of them finding employment at age 22. Their median wages were well below the necessary amount for economic independence in the state.
And while it might be easy to assume these at-risk youth reside in major cities like Bridgeport, New Haven, and Hartford, many come from rural towns, especially those in eastern and western Connecticut.
Youths with ties to non-white racial groups, experiences with out-of-school systems like the Department of Children and Families, and certain in-school factors such as high poverty schools, are more susceptible to disconnection. Additionally, those with multiple risk factors were 5-6 times more likely to be disconnected.
The justice system remains a looming presence in the lives of these youths. Although the number of arrests and incarcerations has seen a decline, in 2021, there were still nearly 10,000 arrests and 2,000 incarcerations among the young.
The study calculated that if Connecticut can aid these youths in getting back on track, they could fill a large portion of the state’s 90,000 vacant jobs. Such a move could propel the gross domestic product by $5-5.5 billion and improve fiscal performance by $650 million – $750 million annually.
In order to draw attention to these findings, Dalio Education has teamed up with the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities to host a number of discussions across the state over the next month. The first will take place at 11 a.m. today in West Hartford at the Elmwood Community Center, 1106 New Britain Ave.