The City Council this week unanimously approved spending $125,000 for a program designed to divert Latino children from gangs and drug use.
The Youth Alternative Program developed by the Friendly Center, a nonprofit community organization, will target Latino youths in the El Modena neighborhood in the center of the city, and the Friendly Center's community on the west side.
The program is designed to work with children ages 7 to 11 before they become involved with drugs or drop out of school. Adult role models will be recruited. The Orange Unified School District and city agencies will start programs to provide children with alternatives to joining gangs or using drugs.
The program will also provide courses designed to help parents improve relationships with their children.
The program will be funded with $32,000 in Community Development Block Grant money, $5,000 from the city's cable TV fund and $88,000 from general reserves. The money will pay for two full-time youth coordinators, a community liaison and a part-time clerical worker.
Most of the funding is considered onetime seed money, with the Friendly Center expected to seek grants to pay for the program in future.
City officials expect the program to begin by early September.