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The city’s youth development programs are diminishing after a slew of budget cuts.
The Office of Youth Development was one of many city programs that suffered from cuts when the city resolved a $43 million budget gap in June.
The office, which launched in 2007, was gutted. It is no longer an office — its programs are now part of the Parks and Recreation Department.
An Aug. 8 document on the city’s website said the Office of Youth Development is not looking for new funding. And the position of director and two neighborhood youth resource coordinator jobs were chopped, leaving only one remaining staffer from the office.
“It’s not going to be the proactive group that it was,” Lori Harder, administrative manager for the Parks and Recreation Department, said. “And we did eliminate nearly the entire office.”
The city maintained the position of youth resource analyst. “With this multitude of grants, there’s a significant amount of accounting and fiscal work,” Harder said, explaining why the city held onto the analyst job.
Lyn Corbett, the former director of the office, resigned from the City of Sacramento, Harder said.
The office’s purpose was to address a range of youth issues including gang violence, positive adult role models, education, essential needs and positive family life, according to the city’s website.
Harder repeatedly praised the office’s work.
“It’s not to say we don’t think youth are important, it’s just general fund reductions are so severe,” she said.
If the Parks and Recreation Department decides to apply for any new funding for youth development programs, it would not make the effort that the Office of Youth Development did, Harder said. That’s because Parks and Recreation does not have the capacity to reapply for youth development funds and maintain all of the youth services.
While future fundraising efforts for youth development programs at the city look dim, Parks and Recreation is continuing to administer those that already have grant money, Harder said.
But when the grant funding ends, the city will talk to the outside agencies and groups it works with and ask them if they would like to take over the programs, Harder said.
Vincene Jones, head of the neighborhood services division of Parks and Recreation, said the Youth Commission will continue under her division.
David Schenirer, the chair of the Youth Commission last year, expressed disappointment over the cuts to the office.
Schenirer, who is now a first-year student at American University, said he was sad about the cuts because the city had taken a “major step forward” with its prior work with the Office of Youth Development.
Photo of the Youth Commission courtesy of the city of Sacramento.
Kathleen Haley is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.