The highly controversial Los Angeles County Probation youth program known colloquially by critics as voluntary probation is now reportedly scheduled to be shut down — at least in part — by April 1, with the rest of the program likely to be shuttered by the end of the school year in June.
STRIVE, a New York City-based organization with 21 affiliates throughout the United States, was recently awarded a three-year, $5 million grant from the United States Department of Labor for a new, nationwide initiative called STRIVE for the Future. The program is centered on providing services and assistance to formerly incarcerated youth, with the grant expected to benefit about 400 teens. A recent press release from the organization said the initiative will focus on juveniles ages 14 and older who primarily come from high-poverty and high-crime communities and were involved in the juvenile justice system, but not the adult criminal system, within the last 12 months. The organization says it will provide numerous tools and services such as career development assistance and various forms of training and education for at-risk youth. Additionally, STRIVE plans on developing several community service projects, as well as mentoring and violence reduction programs, as part of the STRIVE for the Future initiative, with all 21 affiliates having the opportunity to apply for local community services.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s recently released executive budget could cut $7 million in funding to the city’s Runaway and Homeless Youth Services, effectively eliminating 160 beds from youth shelters across the city. According to a representative from the Ali Forney Center – the city’s largest LGBT youth shelter – the need for shelter beds has increased dramatically in recent years, with the waiting list for the Center growing by 40 percent last year. The Ali Forney Center claims that there are only 250 shelter beds available in New York – despite an estimated homeless youth population of almost 4,000. Carl Siciliano, the Center’s executive director, told The Advocate he considered Bloomberg’s budget cuts to be “cruel, reckless and contemptible.”
“These cuts create an even bigger crisis for the LGBT teens who are thrown out of their homes and forced to endure homelessness on the streets of our city,” he said. “The Ali Forney Center and all those who work with and care about LGBT homeless youth will not be silent in the face of this decision, which offends us as a community and needlessly puts our young people in harm’s way.”
A New York City Independent Budget Office report from March predicted (on page 35) homeless shelter budget cuts, with the investigation identifying an increase in average shelter stay durations as well as the cessation of subsidy programs, such as Advantage, as the primary factors for budget shortfalls.
The Ruddie Memorial Youth Foundation (RMYF) offers Evaluation Grants for first time applicants to assess the successfulness of innovative programs or innovative components of programs that serve disadvantaged youth. This is the only grant available to first-time applicants with RMYF. Grants range between $5,000-$25,000 and MUST focus on evaluating an innovative program. Successful completion of the grant terms opens the possibility of future funding. Grant applications are reviewed annually.
At a glance it can be hard to see the impact of the breadth of services offered by the Whitefoord Community Program (WCP) on the cluster of Atlanta neighborhoods they serve. The non-profit runs four health clinics in nearby schools, offers child development and pre-K services, after school programs, digital media training, summer reading and math workshops and even a Bike Rite health initiative.
In a time of tight city and state budget, more and more municipalities are looking for ways to deliver services to the communities that need them. In Atlanta, one such program, the WCP, has been in place for years and could prove to be a model for the nation. Through grants and other funding the project has proven sustainable. Through community involvement it has proven useful and effective.
Look a little closer at the project and you’ll see the evolution of a community support system that weaves together family, health and education. What stated with a one-square mile area and a single health clinic in Whitefoord Elementary School on the east side of Atlanta more than 15 years ago has evolved into a system that reaches into a number of communities in that area of the city.
All of these services work in tandem from just about the time the child leaves the womb until he or she graduates high school with one goal in mind: providing the children of this inner-city community with the tools they need to complete their education.
Clarence Jones, director of the WCP’s Beyond School Hours program, has been with the organization since shortly after it’s founding.
At nine weeks, infants can enroll, space provided, in the WCP’s Child Development program and start gearing up for their formal education. Unlike traditional daycare, this nationally accredited child development program employs HighScope Curriculum, a style of early childhood teaching and learning focused on active participation and educational development.
Alabama’s only agency designated to prevent child abuse and neglect, among the many juvenile justice departments around the nation grappling with a smaller budget, will serve nearly half the number of kids in 2012 as they did in 2011. The Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention (DCANP) is preparing to cut 74 community-based programs around the state when the new budget takes effect October 1. The cuts bring the total number of programs to just 101 for FY 2012, compared to 227 funded in FY 2005. The reduction in services represents roughly 14,000 kids that will no longer have access to community-based prevention programs.
“I’m really concerned with the burden of the system as a whole,” says Kelley Parris-Barnes, director of the DCANP. “When you take the community-level programs out you don’t have the capacity in the state to do it.”
SAVANNAH, Ga. — Professionals from every major youth-oriented field in the state of Georgia, governmental and non-profit, converge on Savannah this week for the Georgia Juvenile Service Association’s (GJSA) 40th Training Summit. The three-day event, Aug. 23-25, will host a long-list of speakers, workshops and society happenings. Members can choose from a spread of workshops covering everything from Georgia’s Cybersafety Initiative to tactics for reintegrating juvenile offenders upon their release.
Sheriff Chipp Bailey, of Mecklenburg County, N.C., has confirmed to JJIE his office received a $10,000 donation from the producers of “Beyond Scared Straight” following the appearance of the county’s “Reality Program” on the controversial A&E television show. Bailey said the money, provided by Arnold Shapiro Productions, would be used to offset the costs of the food and field trips that are part of the aftercare portion of the “Reality Program.” It is unclear whether the producers have made similar payments to other programs filmed for “Beyond Scared Straight”. The “Reality Program” is designed, according to Bailey, to educate at-risk youth on the realities of prison life and help them avoid making decisions that would land them in jail. In the initial portion of the program, teens are brought to the county jail, and dressed in prison uniforms while deputies intimidate, yell at and berate them.
There has been a significant decline in economic well being for low-income children and families in the last decade, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s annual KIDS COUNT Data Book.
Among the findings, the official child poverty rate, a conservative measure of economic hardship according to the report, increased 18 percent between 2000 and 2009. The increase represents 2.4 million more children now living below the federal poverty line, returning to roughly the same levels as the early 1990’s.
“In 2009, 42 percent of our nation’s children, or 31 million, lived in families with incomes below twice the federal poverty line or $43,512/year for a family of four, a minimum needed for most families to make ends meet,” Laura Speer, associate director for Policy Reform and Data at the Casey Foundation, said in a press release. “The recent recession has wiped out many of the economic gains for children that occurred in the late 1990’s.”