News Release

 

 

For More Information:

William R. Steinhaus
Dutchess County Executive
(845) 486-2000 countyexec@co.dutchess.ny.us

For Immediate Release

January 28, 1999

 

County Executive Steinhaus Approves Funding Youth Programs $34,672 in Contracts Approved

 

Poughkeepsie, NY--County Executive William R. Steinhaus has approved county funds to assist three programs targeting youth and youth development in the county. The three programs are the City Club program which is designed to provide supervised after school activities to 6-15 year olds, the Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Dutchess County program which provides children from single parent homes with an adult mentor, and the Youth Resource Development Corporation's Street Outreach Program which seeks to help 16 - 20 year olds who are high school drop-outs or at risk of dropping out prepare for their GED and get employment skills.

The program titled City Club is a supervised after school drop-in center for all Dutchess County youth ages 6-19. The program began in 1984, but recently shifted its focus to include academics. City Club does still have recreational activities, however, that range from swimming, arts &crafts, and rock climbing to Viking field trips and having Movie day. 'Me youth are involved in activity planning and decision-making in order to allow them to develop their leadership skills.

The program locations, at both the YMCA and the Warring School Academy, are critical for the program. The YMCA is only blocks away from the Poughkeepsie Middle School, It is located in a pocket of low income housing and is directly across the street from one of the city's largest public housing developments. The Waning Academy site allows children to stay after school at a facility that they are familiar with and, therefore, transportation is not required. The county has approved $8,500 for City Club.

Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Dutchess County is a prevention- oriented youth serving agency that creates one-to-one relationships between an at-risk youth and an adult volunteer. The volunteer acts as a close and trusted friend, a role model and a mentor. Most children are between 7 -15 and come for families that lack the participation of two parents and are culturally or economically disadvantaged. "Currently 70% of these children live at or below the poverty level and receive most of their funds from public assistance or Social Security benefits," Steinhaus said. "By exposing them to academic, social and cultural experiences that they have not had in their families, thus exposing them to a broad range life choices, the Big Bothers/Big Sisters become significant influences on the growth and development of the children."'

Big Brother, Big Sisters of Dutchess County has been part of the community since 1965 and has matched approximately 115 children with "Bigs" each year. The Bigs must commit to regular contact with the child for at least one year. A behavioral checklist, which is filled out by the parent at the beginning of the program and once again at the one year anniversary, was instituted four years ago. "The survey has consistently shown that 60% of youth showed an improvement in school, 35% showed improved behavior and attitude in their peer and family relationships, 70% showed improvement in self esteem and 50% began to master skills for independent living," Steinhaus said"Ms is proof that the program is working and those who operate Big Bothers, Big Sisters deserve our support." The County will provide $20,000 to the Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Dutchess County program for 1999.

The Street Outreach Program operated by the not-for-profit Youth Resource Development Corporation (YRDQ aims to provide disadvantaged at-risk youths, ages 16-21, pre-employment and work maturity skills, personal skills, social skills and work experience through the operation of a worksite training program and a Youth Community Service Center. The YRDC provides its participants with both work experience and GED preparation. The Street Outreach Program in particular targets those high school drop-outs, or potential drop-outs who "hang out" on the streets and often become involved with the juvenile justice system. "This is a very unique and ambitious program'' said Steinhaus. "A Program Manager will actually recruit these youth off the streets and out of pool halls and arcades. These are youth who have resisted accepting services in the past and who normally are not referred to the program."

The Street Outreach Program will focus on 20 youth recruited from the inner cities of Beacon and Poughkeepsie. The services will be offered in Poughkeepsie. Beacon youth will be provided with a train or bus ticket to Poughkeepsie. The county has approved $6,172 to the Street Outreach Program.

"There is a great need to reach out to our young people and help them avoid many of the pitfalls of modern life," said County Executive Steinhaus. "Since 1995 we have seen some progress in controlling the growth in juvenile arrests. This is a clear message that we need to give our youth our attention, our support and guidance, This is exactly what these programs intend to do."

"Studies done by the Minneapolis based Search Institute show that the more developmental assets young people experience, the less likely they are to engage in risky behavior and the more likely they are to grow up doing things that society values," Steinhaus said. Developmental assets are those experiences that reinforce positive values and build social competencies. There are forty developmental assets in all, such as teaching clear boundaries, respect of others, creating expectations and encouraging volunteerism. The Steinhaus administration has adopted this philosophy for its approach to youth.

"When children are equipped with most of the developmental assets, you could say they are inoculated against risky behavior," said Betsy Brockway, Executive Director of the Dutchess County Youth Bureau.

"It is imperative to create a system that gives all children the belief that they can achieve their dreams. Good role modeling and well constructed activities provide the basis for this," the County Executive said. "I am glad to be able to play a part in these programs."

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