Youth Initiative to target violence in state Goal is to improve services to families

March 28, 1998|By Sheila Hotchkin | Sheila Hotchkin,SUN STAFF

A collection of public and private organizations has a new program that aims to stop youth violence at its roots by making resources for troubled families more effective and accessible.

Maryland Youth Initiative 2000, based on a program in Prince George's County, includes plans to compile a statewide directory of services available to families and to work with nonprofit agencies to improve options for families.

Organizers hope the initiative can combat the cycle of violence they say has resulted in a 47 percent rise in arrests of juveniles from 1990 to 1996 and a one-third increase in violent deaths among Maryland youths ages 10 to 19 from 1993 to 1995.

The program will focus on producing the telephone directory; providing additional training for service agencies; and raising funds for workshops and to finance the formation of coalitions by nonprofit groups.

Initiative organizers plan to make electronic versions and hard copies of the statewide directory available. Patricia Green, an administrator with the Prince George's County school system, said her county's directory has proved useful when immediate assistance is needed for students or their families.

Projects to increase the efficiency of nonprofits are also planned with the expectation that they will increase their caseloads, reducing the burden on the state.

Peter Berns, executive director of the Maryland Association of Non-Profit Organizations, said that of the state's 13,000 charitable organizations, roughly two-thirds are small, all-volunteer operations.

The state initiative, like the one in Prince George's, would provide workshops covering practical matters such as budgets, regulations and service delivery.

After the program is in effect, a fund will be developed to finance partnerships between service providers and scholarships to nonprofits for training programs.

Organizers spent a year developing the initiative before its introduction last week at Baltimore's Woodbourne Center.

Pub Date: 3/28/98

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