Neighborhood Youth Panel in need of funding
— The Neighborhood Youth Panel is in a race against the clock to get grant funding.
“We’re in year three of a fiveyear phase out,” Dawn Rodenbaugh, program administrator, recently told the Rising Sun mayor and commissioners. “We’re working with Cecil County to find new funding sources.”
The program budget was $80,000 this year, but it needs to go up to offer the lone fulltime employee — Rodenbaugh — health insurance. The panel also gets money from veterans groups, United Way and through the Cecil County Video Lottery Terminal Community grants.
The Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention had been providing a large portion of the 16-year-old organization’s funding. In the first year, $58,000 was granted.
“They have asked us to cut
25 percent every year for the past three years,” said Barbara Smith, chief of the Division of Partnerships in the Cecil County Department of Community Services. In the first reduction cycle, who noted the cut came closer to 40 percent. “We weren’t prepared.”
The GOCCP funding has shrunk to $22,000. The women were on a tour to meet with every town board to ask for financial support.
Smith said one thing the county umbrella did was give the Neighborhood Youth Panel nonprofit status so it could conduct fundraising.
Neighborhood Youth Panel gives young, first-time offenders a way to avoid having a criminal record through re-direction, mentoring and positive behavior reinforcement. Referred to the program by schools, law enforcement or parents, youngsters under age 18 are forced to face their crime, admit wrongdoing, make amends and also give back.
In an 18 month period from 2014 to 2015, the Neighborhood Youth Panel vetted 145 children. Of those, only 10 percent got into trouble a second time during that period.
She noted that the recidivism rate in the Department of Juvenile Justice is better than 50 percent.
Smith said their 90 percent success rate speaks to the effectiveness of the NYP program, which started in Rising Sun with a Department of Justice grant and support from then-Delegate David R. Rudolph. By 2012, all five high school districts had its own Neighborhood Youth Panel, consisting of adult volunteers and mentors that worked to tailor a program for each child.
“Shoplifting at Wal-Mart is a very different offense than the person with a controlled dangerous substance,” Smith said.
Relationships often develop as the child moves through the program from realizing the mistake, making amends and, when appropriate, making restitution to the victim.
“Kids need to understand con- sequences,” said Darrell Hamilton, chief of the North East Police Department.
Hamilton said he has asked particular young people before the panel, “Do you understand what you do now is going to impact you all your life?”
Mentors are a big part of the program, Rodenbaugh said, adding there are openings for people who want to be involved. Each volunteer must pass a background check, of which NYP covers the cost. There is also a training session.
While she has had parents and children thank her for the program, Rodenbaugh said none of the young people that completed the NYP session have returned to become a mentor. There are parents, however, who have become actively involved.
Anyone interested in becoming a panel member, getting more information about the Neighborhood Youth Panel or making a donation should contact Rodenbaugh at 410-6580229.
Dfcs. Derek Minker and Stavros Plagianakis mark the floor of the cafeteria at Rising Sun High School to show where duct tape will delineate a street for Safetyville. The pre-school program that teaches 3- to 5-year olds about pedestrian and traffic safety starts Monday morning.