Government funding for youth incongruent with goals
A regional youth gang prevention program called InREACH, due to a lack of funding, will be unable to continue its program past this year. The program began in 2009 with three years of guaranteed but non-renewable funding from the National Crime Prevention Centre (NCPC). The program sought out alternative funding but attempts were unsuccessful. While it is true the funding was never meant to be renewable and was meant to support a pilot project, now that the project has proved its worth, the lack of alternative government funding is unfortunate and questionable.
The program processed roughly 400 youth over the three-year period, demonstrating that the program not only works but is in demand. InREACH filled a niche in the community and could access youth that either refused to access other community resources or was unaware of them.
There are few issues more important than investing in the future of Canada’s youth and ensuring the safety and security of youth in communities.
Spending money to reach out to at risk youth means saving money long term. Correctional facilities, court proceedings, imprisonment and rehabilitation are all costly alternatives to outreach programs.
The unfortunate case of InREACH reflects a broader problem where communities and the government want the same outcomes but have difficulty aligning strategies towards doing so. Both want more at risk youth processed by community programs and want young people out of government facilities. So far, being on the same page has not resulted in more predictable funding. Hopefully, the government will work with and use successful community programs to reach the shared goals of youth empowerment, success, mental health and meaningful outreach.