Santa Monica Council members awarded the Youth Resource Team (YRT) Policy Group just before the Thanksgiving holiday a $150,000 funding boost for its early childhood and after school programs to enhance its ‘cradle to the career’ youth initiatives.
The group will use the money to evaluate the development of early childhood programs created as part of a partnership between City Hall and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District.
City staff also hope they will work together with council members to find ways to ensure enough funds are in place to sustain highly qualitative programs under the YRT Policy Group in the face of anticipated regular budget cuts in Sacramento.
“We want to be sure that in Santa Monica, we set about to come up with a plan to sustain programs at the highest quality over the long haul, and that we’re not so beholden to the cuts that are coming down from the state level,” said Julie Rusk, the city’s human services manager.
Accordingly, council unanimously approved the one-time funding to allow the YRT Policy Group to focus “on activities which will position Santa Monica and its partners to sustain and improve ‘cradle to career’ initiatives over the long term.”
Through the development of the program, City Hall also hopes to enhance public-private partnerships, reduce duplication of services offered, improve how key services are integrated, coordinated, and delivered to the community, and search for new funding sources.
Rusk also said the group is working on developing a “community report card” collecting data from local schools, City Hall, and the non-profit sector to determine it is “measuring up in serving kids and families.”
“The commitment that we’re talking about here from cradle to career is, I think, a truly innovative idea,” Mayor Pro Tem Davis said. “It’s not just the delivery of services, but the integrated delivery of services that really makes the difference.
The YRT Policy Group was created by the council as part of a report, the “Youth Violence Prevention in Santa Monica: An Action Plan for 2010 and 2011,” which was adopted in September 2010. Its purpose is to advance the City and community’s efforts to address youth violence prevention.