Q Can I get a job if I am younger than 18 and in DCF custody?

Yes! If you are under 18, you can get a job if you have a work permit. You have to turn in the application for a work permit at school. The best person to talk to about your application is your school counselor.  Applications are available at: Youth Employment Information or get one from your school. All the steps for completing this application process can be found in The Massachusetts Guide for Working Teens pdf format of Teen Guide 
file size 9MB, page 4. Talk to your school counselor about getting the permit. 

Q Can I keep all the money I earn from my job while I am in DCF custody?

Yes! All the money you make is yours. If someone is telling you that they get some of the money that you are earning, talk with your lawyer as soon as you can. You don’t have to share your paycheck with anyone. Now is a good time to learn to budget your money. As soon as you get a job, you should also talk to your social worker about opening  your own bank account. You can open a savings or checking account at a bank even if you are under 18.

Q Who can help me find a job?

For help looking for a job or job training, talk to a career center or employment counselor, your school counselor, or an education talent search counselor at your school, or your social worker at DCF.  DCF also has an Adolescent Outreach Worker who may be able to help you find a job. To get in touch with an Outreach Worker, call your social worker. Through the Adolescent Outreach Program, you can receive assistance in locating a job. Through DCF’s PAYA program you can learn helpful tips for finding and keeping a job.

Tip: Call the Division of Career Services for more information and to find the Career Center near you: 617-626-5300. 

Consider the following four programs to help you. Ask your social worker for more information or look these up online:

  • Foster Skills gives you information about participating in a workforce development program that measures your skills and helps you gain improved access to the workforce.  It is exclusively focused on empowering foster youth to beat the odds, follow your dreams and become successful productive citizens by giving you the skills you need for gainful employment.
  • Job Corps Program is a free career training and education program for young adults age 16 through 24. The goal of Job Corps is to teach job skills. Call 1-800-733-JOBS or 617-788-0186.
  • YouthBuild is an education, job training, housing, and community service program for young adults age 16 through 24. This program can help you get your high school diploma or GED while teaching you carpentry and other construction skills. Call 617-445-8887.
  • YouthWorks is a program for youth who are between the ages of 14 and 21. This program was developed to help youth who are court involved.

Q How can I look for a job?

There are a lot of ways to look for a job.  Some of the best ways for teenagers are:

  • Go to local grocery and other retail stores and ask if they are hiring.  If they are hiring, they will have an application for you to fill out.
  • Look online at chain stores in your area.  They have applications you can fill out online.  If you do not hear from them, follow up by going to the store in person.
  • Talk to your friends who have jobs to see if where they work is hiring.
  • Talk to your neighbors and the parents of your friends to see if they know of any places that are hiring.
  • Talk to your teachers and counselors at school to see if they know of places where other kids have worked.
  • Go to a career center.

Career Centers, located in many communities, are job centers that help workers find jobs. They have job listings, career counseling services, job search workshops, workforce readiness training, information about getting money for job training, and other employment-related services for people who want jobs. Some services are free and open to all Massachusetts job seekers, while other services (such as one-on-one-career counseling) may charge a fee. Call the Division of Career Services for more information and to find the Career Center near you: 617-626-5300. You can also get help from the Adolescent Outreach Worker in the DCF office near you.

Tip: For rules about when and where you can work depending on your age and tips for getting a job, see The Massachusetts Guide for Working Teens pdf format of Teen Guide 
file size 9MB

Q Can I get money from the state if I lose my job?

If you were working and you lost your job and it wasn't your fault you may be able to get money from the state called unemployment benefits. If you quit or were fired from your job for a good reason, you can’t get money from the state. To get unemployment benefits, you must be looking for a job or be enrolled in job training.