Neigh­bor­hood Youth Panel in need of fund­ing

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By JANE BELLMYER

jbellmyer@ce­cil­whig.com

— 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

RIS­ING SUN

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.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JANE BELLMYER

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.

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