Los Angeles City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez Friday reiterated her intent to create a city youth development department.
The department would centralize the city’s strategies on youth development, and Rodriguez said creating it soon is important, after the abrupt closure of the Youth Policy Institute, a once-prominent nonprofit organization that served hundreds of families in her district and other areas of Los Angeles.
“It is a priority of mine, and working in concert and partnership with the members of the Invest in Youth Coalition, to assure that we change the trajectory and opportunity for our youth, and that we do that by achieving greater transparency and oversight for the agencies that are providing programming for our youth.”
Rodriguez filed a motion last year to create the department, but it has not yet materialized.
The councilwoman was joined by members of the Invest in Youth Coalition to call on the full City Council to continue its work on creating such a department. Rodriguez said a third of the city’s 4 million residents are 24 years old or younger.
Cassandra Castillo, a representative of the Invest in Youth Coalition, said programs for young people helped her achieve her ambitions.
“Youth programs have really helped me by opening those doors,” Castillo said. “It was their immense support that (helped me make) it this far in my life. I’m in college now and I’m on my way to transferring.”
Rodriguez said that throughout the city’s 26 departments there are millions of dollars dedicated to youth programs.
“That doesn’t provide with the proper oversight, it doesn’t provide a clear strategy, and it provides no central body to make sure that we are making greater efficacy with those investments to support the youth, like Cassandra,” Rodriguez said. “What we need are more leadership development programs, and that will come through concentrating our efforts and resources in a more thoughtful and proactive manner.”
The City Council moved forward in March with a plan to form a task force that would be charged with formulating the details of the department’s responsibilities.
Tran Le, a spokesperson for Rodriguez, said the City Council’s Economic Development Committee is expected to consider the creation of the task force before the Thanksgiving holiday. The task force would also assess what programming for youth development the city’s departments already offer.
The Invest in Youth Coalition argued that other cities, including New York, San Francisco and Boston, have prioritized youth investment through the establishment of a youth development department.
The coalition includes organizations such as Legacy LA, LA Voice and the East Los Angeles Women’s Shelter.