Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett today released the Latino Youth Collaborative Steering Committee Report titled, “A Generation of Youth Hanging in the Balance.” Leggett charged the steering committee in August 2009 with developing recommended strategies and action steps for addressing the educational, violence prevention and well-being needs of County Latino youth and their families.
“With the insight and recommendations contained in this report we will be able to make great strides in responding to the needs of a generation of Latino youth living in Montgomery County,” said Leggett. “It falls to each one of us to do whatever we can to find solutions that make it possible for all of our youth to feel engaged and supported in their home, in their school and in their community.”
Recommendations from the steering committee include the following actions:
• Identify whether existing County services are reaching Latino target populations and areas where the Latino community is disproportionately represented or negatively affected.
• Develop policies and implement strategies for increasing career/job based education opportunities for Montgomery County Public School students.
• Utilize schools as neighborhood-based hubs that provide comprehensive services and education opportunities in a safe environment for all community members.
• Identify and enhance the capability of key contact/entry point in Montgomery County to connect with Latino families and assess their needs.
• Improve the cultural and linguistic competence of each County department.
• Provide Latino youth and families with the necessary tools, knowledge and access to strengthen their civic engagement capabilities.
The 60-member steering committee was co-chaired by Kate Garvey, Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services; Henry Montes, Latin American Advisory Group; and Diego Uriburu, Identity, Inc.
“Without the vision, commitment, and foresight of the County Executive, the Board of Education, and the County Council, the root causes surrounding the grave issues facing the Latino youth in our county would not have been addressed,” said Diego Uriburu, Latino Youth Collaborative Steering Committee co-chair. “Their leadership inspired the Latino community to come to the table and be an integral part of the solution.”
The steering committee was charged with developing recommendations that would address the issues and challenges uncovered in a survey of more than 1,000 Latino youth conducted by Identity, Inc. in 2006. The group was charged with studying the critical areas of education, violence prevention and well-being, and to develop strategies for the future. The three subgroups established to accomplish this will focus on (1) policies, (2) responsive services and (3) social integration. Over the past year, more than 100 individuals participated in the steering committee and subgroup meetings. Participants included County Council staff, Board of Education members, department heads and representatives and leaders from nonprofits and the business sectors as well as the school community.
“The volunteer efforts by the participants demonstrate the degree to which County residents value the contributions of the Latino community,” said Leggett. “The collaborative effort illustrates the willingness of so many individuals from the public and private sector to work diligently and purposefully to transform Montgomery County into a better place to live for everyone.”
Leggett will establish a time-limited Oversight Work Group to monitor progress in the implementation of the report’s recommendations. His representatives on the work group include Chief Administrative Officer Tim Firestine; Director of Health and Human Services Uma Ahluwalia; and Police Chief Tom Manger. The work group will also include representatives from the County Council office, the Board of Education, the Superintendent of Schools and the Collaboration Council for Children, Youth and Families. Four slots will be appointed by members of the Latino Youth Collaborative.
For more information, call Karla Silvestre, Latino Liaison in the County Executive’s Office of Community Partnerships, at 240-777-2525.
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