Toronto Star: $500,000 in help for Toronto’s most at-risk youth recommended
December 3rd 2013
A Toronto councillor wants to move forward on long-delayed programming for the city’s most at-risk youth and is asking for $500,000 to be included in the 2014 budget.
“There seems to be no appetite for action until we lose another kid to violence,” said Josh Matlow, councillor for Ward 22 St. Paul’s. “We need to be proactive. There’s no reason to wait, no need for any more blue ribbon panels.”
Most recommendations in that report, commissioned by the province after the shooting death of student Jordan Manners in 2007, was not acted upon until the Danzig and Eaton Centre shootings last year. Although there is some funding for youth programs, the city says there is no direct programming for youth most at risk of crime and violence, who often have gang affiliations.
Barriers such as jail, a criminal record, school suspension or expulsion from a community centre make it impractical, if not impossible, for these youth to access typical programming or to make a living wage, said Denise Campbell, director of community resources in the city’s social development, finance and administration department.
“We feel this group of young people is dramatically underserved in the city,” said Campbell.
Matlow will bring forward a motion Wednesday asking the development and recreation committee to support a number of key initiatives recommended by city staff, most of which will be included in a much larger report, the Toronto Youth Equity Strategy, which is expected to come to committee in January.
Matlow says he doesn’t want to wait until then to move forward with a budget request.
Some of the recommendations include:
Partnering with TCHC to provide $50,000 in mental health supports for youth traumatized by violence in Jane and Finch area.
A literacy and training program with Toronto Public Library to allow inmates aged 18 to 29 to maintain family contact ($50,000).
An employment strategy for youth with criminal records ($10,000).
Evaluation tools to ensure youth anti-violence programs are meeting their goals ($117,000).
A restorative justice program that finds alternatives to evicting or suspending youth from city facilities such as libraries, recreation facilities and Toronto Community Housing ($50,000).
Partnering with Toronto police 12 and 14 Divisions to intervene and support youth before they are charged ($100,000).
A program involving the city, community agencies and 42 Division to intervene where there is a risk of serious violence or crime ($117,000).
To read this article in it’s original form click here.