FY2012 House 1 Budget Recommendation:
Issues in Brief
Deval L. Patrick, Governor
Timothy P. Murray, Lt. Governor
Young people in Massachusetts and nationally are dying as a result of gun related and other violence at an alarming rate. Consequently, our urban neighborhoods are not as safe as they should be and too often urban youth despair their realities and fear for the future.
This fiscal year 2012 budget commits funding to programs that are proven to work in the communities that they serve, programs that are proven to change the lives of our youth for the better and reduce urban violence.
As promised, the Patrick Administration is engaging the full spectrum of people who work with young people –law enforcement, street workers, clergy, human services providers, business leaders, victim advocates, and survivors -- to create a wide-ranging and deep-reaching movement to end violence in every community in Massachusetts. The cycle of violence and poverty in any community is a threat to every community. It threatens our fundamental belief in opportunity for all and it must stop.
The Administration is taking a two pronged approach to creating a culture of opportunity for our youth: preventing and addressing violence and providing services that enable our young to make positive choices and lead productive lives.
Programs that are proven successful and are dedicated to ending youth violence in our communities are funded from various line items that were all prioritized to receive the same amount of funding as in fiscal year 2011, despite the myriad difficulties in balancing the fiscal year 2012 budget. Though these line items represent different state agencies, they all share the common, streamlined mission of the entire Commonwealth: to end youth violence and positively empower our valuable young people with job opportunities and productive life style choices. Among these critical programs are those that serve:
To support a joint effort between the Department of Public Safety and the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, the Department of Public Health administers a competitive grant process for innovative and constructive ways to address youth violence in at-risk communities. These grants are level funded at $1.5 million for fiscal year 2012 and serve at-risk communities in all regions throughout the state. These grants are neighborhood-specific to culturally and linguistically target the prevention and intervention activities to each particular youth population. The provision of place-based “safe havens” for our at-risk youth provides areas in which these vulnerable populations can be secure and productive.
Combining work and learning is a powerful and effective drop-out strategy; the deeper the connection that a young person feels while working in the community dramatically reduces the propensity to commit violent acts within it. The school-to-career program administered within the Department of Labor and Workforce Development engages the private sector to commit to paying salaries, providing mentoring and instruction on the job and working closely with their interns’ teachers to connect schools and businesses. This comprehensive model, level funded at $2 million in fiscal year 2012, engages at-risk young people and provides opportunities for long-term professional and academic success for those that the program reaches. In addition to this investment, the Governor proposes to provide $8 million in funding to support job opportunities for thousands of students in the summer of 2011. This investment will ensure that low-income young adults can find work and income during the summer months.
The highest rate of youth crime and violence occurs in the hours immediately following school dismissal. Unsupervised, unstructured time in the afternoon and evening often results in gang-related activities and youth-on-youth aggression. Programs aimed at keeping students engaged and productive longer, such as After School Programs and Extended School Day Programs- both receiving level funding in fiscal year 2012 for a combined $15.4 million, dramatically reduce this period of heightened violence. The Governor also proposes to increase funding for School to Career Connecting Activities by $1.5 million, proposal a total of $3.5 million.
The Shannon Grants to prevent gang violence are targeted at communities with higher crime rates and youth demographics considered more at-risk for crime. The Administration is committing $8 million for this critical program in fiscal year 2012. The fiscal year 2012 budget includes $5.5 million to support these grants, $1 million higher than fiscal year 2011 levels. In addition, the fiscal year 2011 supplemental budget that the Governor will file in January 2011 includes $2.5 million in additional funding for these critical grants that will be available in fiscal year 2012.
In addition to violence prevention programs for our youth, this fiscal year 2012 budget continues to support strategic initiatives designed to better serve our youth at risk to drop out of school or engage in dangerous behavior. The safety and well-being of our Commonwealth’s children is dependent upon our safety net of supports for those most vulnerable. Programs that sustain these critical services will receive the same level of funding from fiscal year 2011 to fiscal year 2012. Preserving these supplementary programs for at-risk youth programs will enable a more cohesive, pragmatic and targeted approach to addressing youth violence.
Prepared by Kelly Driscoll, Executive Office for Administration and Finance ·
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