PARIS WILL FOCUS ON YOUTH PROGRAMMING TO ENSURE OUR CHILDREN HAVE THE RESOURCES THEY NEED TO ACHIEVE THEIR FULL POTENTIAL
We need to better support our young people if we want to see a decrease in crime in Baltimore. Because our state government controls and appropriates education funding and an independent school board runs and manages the school system, the City Council’s control over public education is limited to an advocacy role. Paris will continue to be a local partner to Baltimore’s District 46 state legislators, supporting their efforts to bring school construction dollars to Baltimore City. On the Council, Paris will seek to make a substantive difference in youth support by calling for increased funding for recreation centers and PAL centers, departments like Recreation and Parks, and programs like Youth Works that put our youth on the path to economic stability. As Councilwoman, Paris will:
- Transform our recreation centers into hubs for community and youth support. Baltimore City’s Department of Recreation and Parks has 44 recreational centers, and only 3 of them are in the First District. Having been born and raised in Baltimore, Paris knows firsthand that these rec centers are not able to service all the families who need them. The recent extending of rec center hours (FN30) is a step in the right direction and we should build on this momentum. Our rec center facilities can be transformed to have a much greater impact on our communities by offering resources like case management, mental health services, and job training skills. Paris will:
- Create a partnership to deliver case management services in rec centers. In recent years, the Enoch Pratt Free Library has partnered with the University of Maryland School of Social Work to bring trained graduate students into libraries and the results have been tremendous. (FN31) Paris will partner with the Department of Recreation and Parks to apply this model to rec centers to provide community members with needed resources.
- Advocate that a licensed mental health provider be hired for every rec center. A key part of enhancing the services provided at rec centers should be providing mental health resources to communities. An effective way to achieve this would be to ensure every rec center is staffed by a licensed clinical social worker or professional counselor.
By making rec centers and schools more like community hubs where resources and services are provided, the costs of operating rec centers could potentially be defrayed by contributions from agencies, nonprofits, foundations, and the private sector.
- Re-institute Police Athletic League (PAL) Centers. The Police Athletic League program which operated from 1995 to 2009 never had a reliable funding source allocated to it and was ultimately shut down during the last economic recession. PAL is a proven strategy to improve police-community relations and offer support services to youth, (FN32) and many First District residents have specifically cited PAL as a successful program. Recently, a $28,000 grant was enough to open a PAL facility at the UMB Community Engagement Center in West Baltimore. (FN33) When elected, Paris will:
- Create a funding task force to identify grants, philanthropic funds, and other funding sources to re-open Police Athletic Leagues in Baltimore City.
- Ensure the safety and success of students at Patterson High. The First District is fortunate to have two of the highest performing elementary schools in the city, but our single high school – Patterson High – is failing our kids. In this school that is majority African American and Hispanic/Latinx, only 53% of students report feeling safe at school and less than 60% of students graduate in four years. As Councilwoman, Paris will:
- Bring together school leadership, community leaders, parents, and students to evaluate the safety of students at Patterson High and propose solutions that will keep students safe.
31 Baltimore Sun, Social workers now offering services at Enoch Pratt library branches
32 Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore Police Athletic League Assessment Study
33 Baltimore Patch, PAL Program Launches in West Baltimore