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December 9, 2009 > Youth violence prevention and intervention

Youth violence prevention and intervention

By Shavon Walker

Staff at James Logan High School, Union City, is extremely pleased with the outreach workers on campus. Two vice-principals work with them. A third outreach worker will be recruited shortly. Contact has been made with a number of youth; many have chosen not to participate in gang activities and others who have been drawn in, are turning away from such activity.

Most of the outreach is conducted during lunch periods and through direct contact with students. Efforts have extended to basketball games to reach more youth. School staff has given them additional referrals. There is a culture of promoting youth, who are not at risk, to motivate their at-risk counterparts to make the right choices. Outreach workers will join the Conley Carabello campus this week.

Many companies are dealing with staff-retention problems at the moment and are not interested in hiring youth. A plastics company conducted a group interview and has invited everyone for second interviews. Youth Employment Coordinator Fabiola Camarillo awaits the results. She remarked that youth are starting to realize work in the "real world" differs from jobs they may have had before. Youth appear most comfortable in vocational areas such as construction and warehousing.

The Union City Youth Violence Prevention & Intervention Advisory Committee (YVPIAC) has discussed incentives for hiring youth with the investment board. A second CalGRIP grant could cover 50 percent of students's wages, thus, offering further incentive.

Three youth are being interviewed for Comax and another for Delta Pacific. Blommer's Chocolate and Safeway are still willing to work with the youth employment program. Camarillo would like to hear from other companies interested in doing the same. The program will offer continuous support. Job applicants receive basic-skills training before attending an interview.

Deputy City Manager and Leisure Services Director Tony Acosta investigated the possibility of positions with the Mid-Peninsula housing project at the Intermodal Station but several unions are already contracted for the work. Moreover, their rules for entry and procedures make it extremely difficult to find positions for young people. The Masonic Homes Flatlands Project might provide opportunities should it go ahead. If so, 25 youth-positions would be sought. Giving young people the responsibility and self-respect that comes with work would impact the community positively but there is opposition to the Flatlands Project. It could be two years before jobs become available but the Flatlands Project could last a decade. Masonic Homes of California and the Building Trades Council are in discussions.

According to Youth and Family Services Case Manager Sergio Abundis, ideally, there will be 100 cases by July 2010 which means the program is likely to meet its FY 2010-11 targets. Half the current caseload is eligible for closure by January. Abundis has met with James Logan High School staff and other organizations, such as Filipinos for Affirmative Action, for referrals.

The city's police department has provided the Public Health Institute with data required for crime analysis. A meeting is planned for this week to determine how best to use the information. The data will assist with January's call-in but the information will focus mostly on adult crime rather than juveniles. There will also be informal training for the gang task force and outreach workers, primarily to introduce them to each other and provide mutual assistance. YVPIAC extended an invitation to meet with the gang task force. Street-outreach consultant Kevin Grant will arrange this and organize a presentation for the January 2010 meeting.

Acosta is working on a suitable time for January's call-in but coordinating schedules is proving difficult. According to Emily Duncan, Chair, Human Relations Commission, those with other jobs would be unable to attend. Adult probation is also finding it difficult. Special invitations and separate meetings might be an option.

FY 2010-11 preliminary budgets are being prepared. Operations must be funded and decisions must be made about staffing. Compensation and benefits will also be discusssed. State funding will cease as of March 2011.

There have been two changes to the newest CalGRIP grant application process. First, the application is due January 12. Second, the state will no longer directly fund non-profit organizations, only government entities. However, 20 percent of every grant proposal submitted must be from a non-profit.

Equipment at the Contempo Center has been installed and is operational, including office computers. Donations are appreciated and a wish list of other equipment is available.

Duncan suggested subsequent meetings be scheduled for the first Tuesday of the month. The next meeting will be on January 5, 2010.

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