Supporting the reauthorization of funds for the Children’s Services Council of Broward County is good for our community! Why?
First, the Children’s Services Council is the only county, state or federal government agency putting their money where their mouth is, and directly funding services for LGBTQ youth in Broward County. That’s right, the only one.
Second, SunServe presently has contracts with the CSC amounting to over $180,000. Even though most of this money is matched or leveraged, the CSC realizes that LGBTQ youth, their needs and special challenges are just as important as those of every other youth in our county.
For years, anytime an agency heard “gay” associated with a youth, they were referred to SunServe. It did not matter that we did not have a youth position, or funding to help that youth — as long as the youth in trouble was referred — the referring agency felt they had done their duty.
One of the first positions we created with CSC funding is the case/care manager for these youth being referred to us. The position started slow, but as trust built, we are now looking to hire a second case manager. Gay youth facing a myriad of challenges come to us: issues with school, parents, criminal justice, substance abuse, HIV, bullying. We work with children in crisis.
Fortunately, the CSC is very supportive of our youth groups. Our outreach includes the entire county, spread through Coral Springs, Southwest Ranches, Plantation and two at the Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale- onefor LGBTQ youth and another for the gender variant at our GenderBender group on Monday nights.
From the beginning of our relationship with the CSC, we have both understood how suicide prevention and harm reduction are crucial goals of our partnership to ensure our youth’s wellbeing. United Way and several private donors are also partners in our successful and expanding youth program.
The Children’s Services Council was approved in 2000 with 56 percent of the vote. It provides preventative services for all youth. These include afterschool programs, maternal health, swim safety, school readiness and early intervention, delinquency prevention and a whole slew of other programs that help kids become responsible, productive, successful adults.
Many in our community are from up north, where states and localities provide many more social services then are provided here in Florida. In a way, the CSC makes up for some of these basic services that our youth need to become productive members of society.
Since the CSC began funding youth diversion and civil citation programs, juvenile referrals in the 1-17 year-old range have fallen from 13,000 in 2000, to 7,230 in 2013. Consider that the yearly cost of a bed at the Juvenile Detention Center is approximately $120,000 in taxpayers’ money. Compare that to CSC diversion programs, totaling costs that run only about $1,650 a year. It’s easy to see how prevention is a benefit to all, socially and economically.
The cost for running the CSC is built into your home taxes and millage rate. Think for a moment about what you spend on a single night out, with a cocktail at 13 Even, a dinner at Rosie’s, and a nightcap at the Village Pub. That $120 bucks gets divided 12 ways in your monthly taxes, so it costs you about ten bucks a month to support all of these great programs for kids here in Broward County.
Please remember to vote for the CSC reauthorization between now and November 4, 2014. Thank you.