Evanston aldermen Monday night rejected a proposal from Alderman Brian Miller, 9th Ward, to double the staffing of the city’s youth engagement division as a way to respond to gun violence issues.
Miller proposed adding five more youth outreach workers to the five already working for the city, at a cost that city staff estimated at nearly $500,000.
He said more “boots on the ground” would help combat the problem of youth violence and said each of the existing workers has a caseload of 300 people.
Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward.
But Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said the existing program has made a lot of progress and further results will require more community involvement — and more jobs.
“The people who are causing problems need to be trained for jobs,” Holmes said. “And we have to do more work about the drug problem in the community as well.”
She noted that the current city budget proposal already calls for adding one more outreach worker in 2016.
Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, supported Holmes’ position, saying “people with good jobs are very unlikely to commit crimes.”
And Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said he believes city staff will come up with more ideas for violence reduction strategies over the next few months.
Other than accepting Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl’s recommendation to increase funds allocated to public safety pensions by $100,000 above the amount recommended by the city’s new actuary, the aldermen made no changes to the proposed city budget Monday night.
City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said that with no budget issues outstanding there was no need to hold a special budget meeting that had been planned for Nov. 16. The aldermen are now scheduled to adopt the budget at their regular meeting on Monday, Nov. 23.
System for evaluation?
Does the city have a method and put in practice to annually evaluate the effectiveness and progress of programs ? I especially think of the the social programs though that involves many areas–youth programs, jobs programs, drug/medical/social treatment, aid for homeless/poor/abused, real need and placement in affordable housing . Each should be compared to other programs the city, state or private groups [such as churches or even for/non-profit organization, i.e. opportunity costs for each compared to each alternative. Then shift money and resources to those that perform the job better. Programs should be evaluated for effectiveness, not keeping those who run them employed. There is only so much money available now and only so much more taxpayers will pay esp. if programs do not deliver.
Whining about taxes again
How can 5 youth workers cost nearly $500,000 or $100,000 per worker? That's more than the average Policeman, Fireman and Teacher makes in Evanston. How much does the average outreach employee at Y.O.U., YMCA and YWCA get paid?
Evanston residents need to watch how the City of Evanston wants to spend our money since it appears that City Staff thinks they have an open checkbook.
And people wonder why "our taxes are too damn high?"
What outreach workers earn
The city staff memo, available online, says the outreach wokers earn between $41,000 and $51,000 a year. Add in pension, benefits and taxes and the average outreach worker is said to cost the city $66,400.
The rest of the costs include new office equipment, cars, training and programming to support the expansion.
In SE Evanston, we’re still waiting for information about youth outreach workers to address the issues on our side of town – seems to me that more workers might make for more equitable distribution of services.
Violence in any part of Evanston is violence in all of Evanston; anti-violence resources should follow the “heat” map, not just where violence makes the news. If we focus municipal resources on one area to the exclusion of others, all we will accomplish is having to solve the same problem over and over as it moves back and forth.
Also, we need to ask what is stopping these kids from getting jobs right now, to make sure that programming is targeted to their actual needs and not assumptions about their needs. I can’t think of a more practical way to do that than boots on the ground case management, which I hope is the focus of these youth workers.
Youth Outreach Programs
If there are other organizations doing similar work as the City with youth. Perhaps the City and these organizations need to get together and create a more effective plan of action. Perhaps the City needs to just disband its group.
Cures not Excuses and addressing Symptoms is needed
Aldermen and social workers can talk all they want about getting guns off the street and other crime, but they are only address symptoms and causes and cures.
They can talk about getting jobs for teens and others but there have to be jobs in the first place—and jobs they can make a living from or at least show employers they are responsible, show up and do a good job so when seeking a better job they will get hired. Flipping burgers may let you build a resume, but not survive. With high taxes employers will not settle here to provide jobs and people will not be able to afford to live here.
Start at the beginning. Probably with solid two parent houses or at least where one parent is strong and ensures the child gets a good education and moral fiber.
Then provide the knowledge and skills in school. If possible [state law] require ALL students finish 12th grade. And the education includes science and math—not ‘math for poets.’ Good jobs and will so even more later require solid STEM education. Good humanities and social science and language skills are also needed not only for jobs but learning what a ‘good citizen/person’ is. Economics, US/World History/classics of literature/government and such are necessary—not soft ‘feel good’ rinky-dink classes that allow them to ‘get through’ school.
Instead of more social workers or ‘do gooders’ hire really good teachers who can educate them—and get rid of those who can’t.
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