Wave Wire Services
LOS ANGELES — Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez teamed up with local youth April 1 to advocate for the creation of a city Youth Development Department, and the mayor pledged $1.1 million toward the effort.
Rodriguez introduced a motion Feb. 17 with Councilman Kevin de Leon and Councilwoman Nithya Raman to create the department, noting the city’s youth programs are spread across 26 departments without a centralized approach. The council members’ motion, which has not yet been scheduled for a vote, calls for the creation of one department to focus all of its resources on young Angelenos.
“I’m pleased to join these young people who are the future leaders of Los Angeles and I enthusiastically support the creation of a Youth Development Department,” Garcetti said.
The Youth Development Department would provide services to Angelenos between 10 and 25 years old and focus on violence prevention, youth counseling, financial literacy, job preparation skills, technology assistance and other services to prepare them for the future.
“The 800,000 youth in our city deserve a department that invests in developing their full potential and is structured, governed and measured to meet their needs,” Rodriguez said. “Mayor Garcetti’s announcement today allocating $1.1 million in his budget funding the creation of a Youth Development Department gives hope to young Angelenos that their government is listening and, although long overdue, is responding with systemic change.”
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. Additionally, people between 10 and 25 also made up 32% of arrests over the last 10 years.
The move to create the department is supported by the Invest In Youth Coalition, which is led by Lou Calanche and comprised of nonprofit educational groups, community leaders, organizations, parents, neighborhood groups and young people.
“Young people from every community in L.A. have come together to ask the City Council to support the creation of this Youth Development Department,” said 10-year-old Starlyn Vargas, a member of the coalition.
Christian Wimberly, another youth member said, “This department will provide critically important services to youth and young adults who have had a difficult time with school, studies, work and just coping since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.”