LA City Council to Consider Creating Youth Development Department

Creative little Asian girl crouching on the floor playing with wooden building blocks at home

Photo: Getty Images

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles City Council today will consider creating a Youth Development Department to centralize the city's response to the high number of young people living in poverty and being arrested in Los Angeles.

The city's youth programs are currently spread across 26 departments without a centralized approach, and in February, Councilman Kevin de Leon and Councilwomen Monica Rodriguez and Nithya Raman introduced a motion to create one department to focus all of its resources on young Angelenos.

“Young people deserve a government structured and designed to meet their needs informed by their voice, not outdated preservation of unmeasured programs,'' that motion stated. “For 50 years, youth development work has operated as a subsidiary of other initiatives. Intervention strategies should not begin upon entanglements with law enforcement, greater investments in diverse early prevention efforts are desperately needed.''

“Systemic reforms are needed with a singular focus on youth ages 10-25, a population that has been overlooked in strategic investments and programming,'' it added.

The motion, which was unanimously passed by the full City Council, instructed the City Attorney to prepare an ordinance to create the Youth Development Department.

According to the draft ordinance, which the City Council will consider adopting on Tuesday, the department would serve as the central information center for the public to access youth services in Los Angeles.

The new department would also develop a road map for long-term youth program planning, coordinate with city departments to develop a citywide three-year Youth Development Strategic Plan, advise the mayor and the City Council on the city youth program to ensure efficient use of city resources and the greatest return on its investment and provide necessary staffing for the Olivia Mitchell Youth Council.

According to the motion to initiate the ordinance, of the 800,000 young people between the ages of 10 and 25 in Los Angeles, 200,000 are living in poverty, and 3,000 are homeless.

According to Rodriguez's office, people between 10 and 25 also made up 32% of arrests over the last 10 years.

“The greatest gains in public safety are achieved when we invest in people and we must act with urgency,'' Rodriguez said in a February statement. “Investments in youth need to be commensurate with our investments in law enforcement. A centralized Youth Development Department focused on enrichment programs and job training as an early intervention strategy will provide our most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods greater access to resources that were desperately needed pre-pandemic, but worsened by academic disruption and job loss.''

For the motion to be adopted on Tuesday, the City Council must unanimously approve it. If not unanimously approved, it will be considered again after the council members return from recess on July 27. Upon second consideration, the ordinance requires at least eight affirmative votes to pass.

Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.

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