For Immediate Release - July 26, 2012

GOVERNOR PATRICK DISCUSSES EFFORTS TO REDUCE YOUTH VIOLENCE WITH WORCESTER YOUTH AND COMMUNITY LEADERS

Encourages Legislature to Support Increased Funding to Reduce Youth Violence

Straight-Up Café
Governor Deval Patrick meets with youth and community leaders at the Straight-Up Café in Worcester. (Photo: Eric Haynes / Governor's Office). View additional photos.

WORCESTER – Thursday, July 26, 2012 - Governor Deval Patrick today met with youth and community leaders at the Straight-Up Café in Worcester to discuss the impact of the first year of the Governor’s Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI) – a multi-faceted strategy for reducing youth violence in the Commonwealth. In 2011, Worcester was awarded $710,065 to identify and provide case management to at-risk youth, connect them and their families to activities and services and provide ongoing monitoring and supervision. 

“Initiatives like this one in Worcester are critical to ending the cycle of violence that devastates communities,” said Governor Patrick. “We must continue to support these programs at the highest levels possible – I encourage the legislature to quickly approve the additional $6 million in funding to keep these programs going.”

Last year, Governor Patrick announced the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative and awarded 11 cities a total of $9.7 million to support the initiative’s first year. Cities identify young men ages 14 – 24, most at risk of becoming victims or perpetrators of violence. Cities and their partners provide outreach, case management, education, employment and trauma services to the identified youth and their families.

“These partnerships are key to meeting at-risk youth where they are and showing our young people a path to success," said Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. JudyAnn Bigby. "Governor Patrick’s Safe and Successful Youth Initiative is designed to create new opportunities for safety for youth, families and neighborhoods across the Commonwealth.”

The Straight-Up Café provides employment opportunities and skills training for at-risk youth. The building supports collaborative programming, including a safe space below the café in their youth only recreation room, meeting spaces that host substance abuse programs, including “girl talk” for young females, “man-up” for young men and counseling sessions that are held twice a week. 

“I am grateful that Governor Patrick has paid close attention to the on-going problem of youth violence in cities across the Commonwealth, and I am impressed and encouraged by the steps the Administration is taking to address these issues,” said Representative James O’Day. “By investing in our youth through programs like the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative, we can deter youth violence and ensure both safe communities and successful futures for our young people.”

“I am so pleased to have Governor Patrick in the city today to see first-hand the accomplishments and progress of Safe and Successful Youth Initiative in Worcester,” said Mayor Joseph M. Petty. “Currently, SSYI funding is providing outreach, case management, and trauma counseling to 105 proven-risk Worcester youth. SSYI is quickly proving to be a vital tool as we build an effective comprehensive strategy for youth violence in our city. I urge the Legislature to pass the additional $6 million to keep this and programs like it across the Commonwealth going.”

“The Safe and Successful Youth Initiative has been critical to the collective efforts of the Worcester Police Department and our partners to stem the tide of youth crime and gang violence in our city. The Governor was clear in his presentation that we were to build from what we know is working and what has been successful, and not re-create programs or initiatives,” said City Manager Michael V. O’Brien. “Our efforts have concentrated on three key areas; access to employment opportunities, access to education and access to health and behavioral services. Our police officers have also made it a priority to work with the families of at-risk youth to foster a comprehensive approach to ending youth crime and violence. On behalf of the City of Worcester, I want to thank the Patrick-Murray Administration for introducing the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative and for its commitment to our young people.”

Thursday’s Worcester visit was the second of a statewide tour, where Governor Patrick and leaders in the Administration will meet with youth as well as community and municipal leaders to discuss the successes and challenges of the program after one-year. On July 19, 2012, Governor Patrick met with youth at the Community Development Recreational Center in Fall River.

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