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Youth program has inadequate funding

March 11, 2007

Re "L.A. anti-gang project lacks proof of progress," March 6

The L.A. Bridges program, designed on sound theories of youth development and evidence-based models, engages youth in pro-social activities, exposes them to caring adults and provides intensive intervention to high-need youth and families.

It's absurd to blame contractors for the lack of a rigorous long-term evaluation of the program -- funds have never been allocated. But no one ever uses the data that emerged from the qualitative evaluation by Vital Research, which identified successful elements and outcomes of the program.

The program is mandated to deliver violence prevention and early intervention services to high-risk and high-need youth. However, it is inadequately funded to accomplish both tasks. We need to fully fund all program elements and establish appropriate outcome criteria for each component.

The city and county must be willing to invest in youth and commit resources to offer them real options for academic success, employment, economic security, housing and neighborhood safety.

Until we make that commitment, we'll continue to take shots at one another to explain why our youth are failing and gang violence is on the rise.

SUSAN RABINOVITZ

Associate director

Division of Adolescent Medicine

Childrens Hospital

Los Angeles

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