Three Los Angeles City Council members introduced a motion Wednesday to create a Youth Development Department to address the high number of young people living in poverty and being arrested in Los Angeles.
The city’s youth programs are spread across 26 departments without a centralized approach, and the council members’ motion calls for the creation of one department to focus all of its resources on young Angelenos.
“Young people deserve a government structured and designed to meet their needs informed by their voice, not outdated preservation of unmeasured programs,” the motion states. “For 50 years, youth development work has operated as a subsidiary of other initiatives. Intervention strategies should not begin upon entanglements with law enforcement, greater investments in diverse early prevention efforts are desperately needed.
“Systemic reforms are needed with a singular focus on youth ages 10-25, a population that has been overlooked in strategic investments and programming.”
The motion was introduced by Councilman Kevin de Leon and Councilwomen Monica Rodriguez and Nithya Raman. According to the motion, of the 800,000 young people between the ages of 10 and 25 in Los Angeles, 200,000 of them are living in poverty, and 3,000 are homeless.
According to Rodriguez’ office, people between 10 and 25 also made up 32% of arrests over the last 10 years.
“The greatest gains in public safety are achieved when we invest in people and we must act with urgency,” Rodriguez said. “Investments in youth need to be commensurate with our investments in law enforcement. A centralized Youth Development Department focused on enrichment programs and job training as an early intervention strategy, will provide our most economically disadvantaged neighborhoods greater access to resources that were desperately needed pre-pandemic, but worsened by academic disruption and job loss.”
The motion, if passed, will instruct the city attorney to prepare and present an ordinance to create a Youth Development Department. It will also have the chief legislative analyst and the city administrative officer consult with the Youth Development Task Force to define the duties, responsibilities, goals and objectives of the new department.
To obtain funding, the motion instructs the chief legislative analyst to report back on steps to get a measure on the 2022 ballot to fund youth programming managed by the department.
The motion has not been scheduled for a vote.
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