Save Youth Guidance!

If you live in (or around really) Indian River County in Florida this will be very important to you.  I received an email from Barbara Schlitt-Ford regarding the Youth Guidance Volunteer and Mentoring Program.  If you are a local attendee of our Networker for Business Women Luncheons you will remember, I’m sure, Barbara Schlitt-Ford and/or Tricia Mitchell who attend regularly on behalf of Youth Guidance.

I received her emergency email and the vote is TODAY!  I realize that you may have your own opinions, for or against funding, but  please realize that this is your opportunity to make a difference and you have to act fast as the hearings are today.

I am assuming that hearings are open to the public, if so, please consider attending and voicing your opinion.  Regardless, please contact your commissioners as soon as you can – first thing this morning – and voice your opinion.

The Youth Guidance Mentoring & Activities Program is again at risk of losing a significant amount of county funding. The vote will take place at this Wednesday’s County Budget Hearings in the County Commission Chamber at 9:30 a.m. (July 18).

If you believe that Youth Guidance is a valuable program and believe the county should invest in its most valuable resource, its children, please take a moment today to call or email each of your County Commissioners and let them know so that they, as your elected representatives, can take that into account when voting Wednesday morning. Please see below for the County Commissioners contact information.

By way of a summary, our funding was $183,000 in 2003/04 and is currently $66,000. The county proposes cutting us to $44,000 for the upcoming fiscal year, which would be the equivalent of a 76% cut over a 9 year period. We understand that county revenues are down from 9 years ago and have been very willing to make the necessary 10% annual cuts as requested, but the county now says they should not be in the business of positive youth development programs and intends to phase us out completely over the next two years. Our other revenue seeking efforts have been in high gear to offset these cuts, but we are unable to find substitute funds at the rate equal to that which we are losing them. It is now to the point where we will be forced to cut children’s services, and this, in an economic time which forces more people to seek out our assistance than ever before.

YG serves approximately 700 at-risk youth K-12th grade in IRC. We are a wholly local program. We provide one-on-one and group mentoring programs for these children. We also provide nearly 300 year-round activities for them including boating, fishing, tennis, kayaking, air boating, sailing, field day events, farm outings, museum and theatre outings, and local service projects such as beach cleanups. Our philosophy is that by providing positive role models and the opportunity to participate in educational, recreational, and cultural activities in which they would never otherwise be able, we are leveling the playing field between these disadvantaged youth and their more advantaged peers so that they have every opportunity to achieve their full potential.

83% of our families have annual household income levels of less than $20,000. We serve parents from single parent homes and 75% of our parents are employed. Only 17% own their own home.

We have a staff of 5 and an annual budget of approximately $400,000 and approximately 85% of our annual income comes from fundraising events, local grants and donations. We provide scholarships for our children to attend summer camps, afterschool programs, extracurricular activities, and college.

We monitor children’s grades, school conduct, attendance and self esteem and participation in our program has very successful results for these children. In a recent survey administered to our parents and mentors it was found that since the child began participating in Youth Guidance:

94% now have a better relationship with parent

96% have improved social skills

95% have improved self-esteem

89% have improved attitudes toward school

88% have improved behavior

98% have more opportunities to learn new things

98% are more open to trying new things

98% are more optimistic about their future

Investing in our children is good policy, smart economics!

With many competing demands for scarce funds, policy makers do not fully recognize how critical young people are to the economy, society and democracy – both today and in the future – and consequently dedicate too few resources to harness their productive capacity. Policymakers should treat expenditures on youth as a public investment that generates returns through higher economic growth, reduced social costs, and increased quality of life for all. Given the cumulative nature of human development, underinvestments in children and youth are difficult to reverse later in life and the price for society is high. Therefore, allocating sufficient public resources to youth development, even in times of economic stress and budgetary constraints, is essential.

If you agree, please urge your County Commissioners to not only not decrease our funding on Wednesday but to put us back at the rate they promised us they would maintain support: county funding of $87,000 (as in 10/11).

Thank you so much for stepping up to speak up for our local youth!

Yours In Service, Barbara Schlitt Ford Executive Director Youth Guidance Mentoring & Activities Program of IRC

1028 20th Place, Vero Beach, Fl 32960 P.O. Box 121, Vero Beach, FL 32961 (772) 770-5040 main office line (772) 770-5041 my direct line

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“Enriching the lives of Children In Need” Youth Guidance Mission Statement: Youth Guidance is dedicated to enriching the lives of children in need in Indian River County through quality mentoring relationships and engagement in educational, cultural and recreational activities that promote positive development of youth in order to help them achieve their full potential. County Commissioners Contact Information

Wesley S.Davis,Commissioner District 1 (772) 226-1442 Email:

Joseph E. Flescher,Commissioner District 2 (772) 226-1919 Email:

Gary C. Wheeler,Chairman District 3 (772) 226-1433 Email:

Peter D. O’Bryan,Vice-Chairman District 4 (772) 226-1440 Email:

Bob Solari,Commissioner District 5 (772) 226-1438 Email:

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