28 May 2009
What's the value of a strong, well-equipped local library system? How much of a priority should libraries be in the state budget?
- Dan Fink
26 May 2009
Here's a key point:
A review by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department in January noted great strides in preparedness but said many shortfalls remain. They include the ability to maintain public health functions such as food safety and daily needs during a pandemic, and the capacity to meet surges in health care demand and to strategically close schools.Here at YorkCounts, we have made the point before that York County needs a countywide health department. This news story shows how difficult it would be to respond to a major public health crisis, even under the best circumstances.
Want to learn more? Go to Where's My County Health Department.
- Dan Fink
18 May 2009
In this issue:
- Tragedy increases urgency of anti-gang work
- A snapshot from the Indicators Report: Idle youth
- IB charter school reaches milestone
Tragedy increases urgency of anti-gang work
The shooting death of 9-year-old Ciara Savage on Mother's Day showed in the starkest possible terms the need for a comprehensive approach to the problems that lead to gang violence. The county's anti-gang initiative, led by Beth Gill-MacDonald, will surely have more people willing to join its work. Safer York, the city's Weed and Seed anti-crime project, will find it easier to argue for continued support. Downtown Inc.'s effort to bring a more sophisticated approach to public safety should gain traction. The Stay in School project recommendations, due this fall from the United Way of York County and YorkCounts, hopefully will attract a little more attention. All of this will require the three Cs that David White talked about at the recent gang-prevention summit: cooperation, coordination and communication. Maybe Bev Mackereth, the county's new director of Human Services, and the next mayor of York - whoever that is - can begin a new period of ambitious, big-picture thinking to help these groups work together to develop a county plan to provide better education, more job opportunities and safer streets for the youth of York County.
A snapshot from the Indicators Report: Idle youth
The Indicators Committee added this measure to the 2009 report to show the number of youth who aren't working. These so-called "idle youth" are kids who dropped out of school or who graduated but haven't found a job or gone to college or a trade school. In the York-Hanover Metropolitan Statistical Area, 8.7 percent of youth ages 16 to 19 were considered idle by the U.S. Census Bureau. The percentage rose to 13.3 percent for ages 19 to 21. It's hard to draw many conclusions, since there's no previous data to use for comparison. But when hundreds of young people are out of school or not working, they are the most likely to turn to gangs, crime and drugs. Finding these kids, training them and helping them find decent-paying jobs is one of the education recommendations from YorkCounts' Metro-York group.
IB charter school reaches milestone
The effort to increase educational opportunities for York residents reached a significant milestone in April. A public K-12 charter school, one designed around what's known as an International Baccaleurate curriculum, identified two likely funding sources that will allow the YorkCounts Educational Opportunities committee to hire a consultant and begin considering potential sites in the city. If the effort succeeds, city residents will have a new option (see update) for a public education, in addition to the York City School District, and the first in central Pennsylvania with an IB program. It is hoped that an IB charter school will also make it more attractive for middle-class families to live in York, and their children would, in theory, help break up the concentrated poverty that interferes with student performance in the existing city schools.
Update, 5/21: To clarify, this IB school would be the fourth charter school in the city. Crispus Attucks YouthBuild, Lincoln Edison and New Hope Academy also operate as charter schools, according to the Pennsylvania Coalition of Charter Schools.
- Dan Fink
13 May 2009
But on the most basic level, I'll say it again: We need to keep our kids safe. How are we going to do it? The time has passed for letting the passionate volunteers on the gang-prevention coalition try to figure it out by themselves. That group will likely be the leader in developing a broad response, and its next meeting is at 8 a.m. Friday in Penn State York's Conference Center. To join that effort, call Beth Gill-MacDonald at 495-7267 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Sunday, a unity march will bring two sets of marchers to Continental Square: one coming down Duke Street from Crispus Attucks, the other coming down Beaver Street from the Jefferson Center.
On Monday, Safer York, York's Weed and Seed anti-crime program, will host a public forum at Community Progress Council. The meeting starts at 9 a.m. at CPC, 226 E. College Ave., York.
The work won't end there. In the days and months ahead, the entire community needs to be involved, from the family in Dover to the cop on the street in Shrewsbury to the business owner in Hanover. In 10 years, will we be able to say this was a turning point? Will we be able to say we finally started dealing with the problems of poverty and gangs, as well as the cycle of violence they perpetuate?
We all have to ask ourselves: What can I do to help?
- Dan Fink
08 May 2009
The data gathered in PAYS serve two primary needs. First, the results provide school administrators, state agency directors, legislators and others with critical information concerning the changes in patterns of the use and abuse of these harmful substances and behaviors. Second, the survey assesses risk factors that are related to these behaviors and the protective factors that help guard against them. This information allows community leaders to direct prevention resources to areas where they are likely to have the greatest impact.Finally, they heard York Police Capt. Wes Kahley, who provided the welcome. Kahley has been the leader here working for more than a decade in a multi-county effort to confront problems associated with gang activity. He is truly a York County hero. And the quest to find solutions to help our young people deal with gangs and drugs and a host of other issues is truly a York County problem requiring, as White noted, coordination, collaboration and communication.
What next steps do you think should the county take in this effort?
Update, 5/11: Authorities call city girl's death gang related. Read the York Daily Record story here.
- Dan Fink