While the City of Baltimore, community and faith-based organizations, and individuals have made progress in reducing violent crime, the levels of violence affecting young people remains a significant problem. Homicides and non-fatal shootings increased significantly in 2015 to levels not seen in more than a decade.
In 2014, Mayor Rawlings-Blake launched a planning process to address violence affecting youth, under the age of 25, by calling upon a broad and diverse group of stakeholders to develop a comprehensive multi-sector plan to:
- prevent violence affecting youth,
- reduce the number of youth entering the juvenile justice system, and
- foster positive youth development.
The B’More for Youth! Collaborative emerged out of this multi-sector planning process, which is part of Baltimore City’s participation in the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention (the Forum) and the UNITY City Network (UNITY). The intent of this process and the implementation of the Plan is to recognize, build on, and coordinate the related and complementary efforts underway in Baltimore, as part of achieving better outcomes for young people.
B’More for Youth! Principles:
- Young people, families and local residents must help shape the City’s priorities and drive change.
- Positive youth development principles and implementing practices from cradle to career are key to ensuring that our young people thrive, including extended education and economic opportunities, empowerment, and social, emotional, and spiritual supports.
- Efforts to improve outcomes for young people must promote equity and strengthen whole families and neighborhoods.
- Through a neighborhood-centered approach, we recognize and build on Baltimore City’s rich history, cultures, and existing assets.
- We address the impact of intergenerational trauma by working to heal trauma, build resilience, and restore safety, connectedness, and support among youth, families, and other caring adults.
- Multiple forms of violence can co-occur in homes, schools, and neighborhoods, while experiencing or witnessing violence can be a risk factor for experiencing future violence. We recognize these relationships and the need for a comprehensive, effective strategy to improve outcomes for young people.
- Robust cross-sector coordination and infrastructure in Baltimore City, and the implementation of evidence-informed approaches will help ensure the safety and success of Baltimore City youth, and help improve outcomes for families and neighborhoods. Together we can accomplish more than we could accomplish alone.
- We are all responsible for the safety, health, and wellbeing of Baltimore’s youth.
New Activities and Collaborative Initiatives
As part of the Plan, the B’More for Youth! Collaborative seeks alignment and collaboration with the following new activities and ongoing collaborative initiatives:
Emergency Room Violence Interruption Program: A partnership between the Baltimore City Health Department and local hospitals was established to encourage emergency room doctors to stop treating traumatic injuries as only medical problems. To ensure continuity of care, treatment begins in the hospital resulting in physicians referring victims of violence to appropriate services in the community. As a preventive measure, this program will provide resource cards and other tools to youth.
Youth Job Training Program, Mayor’s Office of Employment Development (MOED): Baltimore has received a five million dollar Federal grant to train youth in a wide array of fields including construction, automotive, and healthcare. It is estimated that upwards of 700 youth from across the city will receive training and other supports to improve socio-economic well-being. Awards will be made to several city agencies to assist in job training and employment development. Additionally, MOED was able to leverage additional funding to provide nearly 7,000 summer jobs through its YouthWorks program. This is a 25% increase from the previous summer.
Mayor’s Youth Fellowship Program: The program accepts referrals from partners in non-profit and City and State agencies for young people seeking employment beyond the summer opportunities afforded by YouthWorks. Partner organizations are recruited by the Mayor’s Office and include the Mayor’s Office of Human Services, the Housing Authority of Baltimore City, the Baltimore City Health Department, the Environmental Control Board, the Family League of Baltimore, Community Law in Action, and the YES Drop-In Center.
Youth Health and Wellness: The Baltimore City Health Department is leading strategic planning and coordination focused on the prevention of illness and promotion of youth well-being, starting from the cradle to age eighteen. Essentially, this is an “umbrella strategy” to the B’More for Youth Collaborative with a primary focus on a wide array of health-related strategies.
Dating Matters Communications Campaign: Baltimore City Health Department is leading a collaborative youth-focused communications campaign about teen dating violence. The campaign is intended to reinforce messages learned in school curricula, while using technology and language that is appealing and relevant for youth. The campaign was developed based on formative research and focus group testing. The campaign will be carried out using print, social, and text communication messaging.
Baltimore City Temporary Cash Assistance Employment and Training Program: Baltimore City Health Department, with funding from the Baltimore City Department of Social Services, will provide Baltimore City Temporary Cash Assistance customers an employment and training program that offers transportation to hard-to-reach job and education sites and provide wraparound employment services.
Baltimore City Schools Reengagement Strategy: The BCPS Re-Engagement Center is designed to support the re-entry of students who have left the system before achieving a high school diploma. The Re-Engagement Center's three primary purposes are: 1) Re-entry through a multifaceted intake process, 2) Transition support by using a step down approach to academic placement for students coming from correctional settings or those who have spent several months to several years outside of an educational environment, and 3) Crisis support for students who experience acute trauma and are unable to function in school.
Baltimore City Child Fatality Review Team: The multidisciplinary review board makes recommendations to mitigate child deaths by examining deaths of children less than 18 years old in Baltimore City on a case-by-case basis and through data analysis.
US Attorney’s Office Project Safe Neighborhoods: The program aims to reduce gang-related gun crime through coordinated federal, state, and local prosecution and law enforcement.
Baltimore Police Chaplaincy Program: This program addresses issues that impact police-community relations. The chaplains are clergy of diverse religious denominations who are assigned to high crime areas where they have influence.
BUILD Health Challenge – Healing Together: Preventing Youth Violence in Upton/Druid Heights: This collaboration will develop a comprehensive youth violence prevention plan for the Druid Heights and Upton neighborhoods. The initiative is led by the Druid Heights Community Development Center, the University of Maryland School of Social Work, the Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center, the Baltimore City Health Department, and community-based organizations.
B’More for Youth! Collaborative Structure
The release of this Plan marks the formalization of the B’More for Youth! Collaborative and the Mayor’s charge to the collaborative to implement the Plan’s goals and strategies. The collaborative structure includes: Co-Chairs, Citywide Coordinating Team, Data and Evaluation Team, Druid Heights/Upton Pilot Neighborhood Team, Park Heights Pilot Neighborhood Team, McElderry Park Pilot Neighborhood Team, and Baltimore City Health Department Staff. The Citywide Coordinating Team includes members that are considered to be a part of a Core team, as indicated, and members who are a part of the Mayor’s Children’s Cabinet.
The Co-Chairs provide oversight and policy guidance, and will be accountable for moving the work forward. Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore City Commissioner of Health, Honorable Kurt Schmoke, former Mayor of Baltimore, and Ms. Shaleece Williams, youth representative facilitate quarterly meetings to assess the implementation progress, receive updated assessments, review committee reports, and provide strategic direction to the Citywide Coordinating Team.
Goals, Outcomes, and Strategies
The overarching purpose of this plan is to support positive youth development and career trajectories in Baltimore City and to prevent violence affecting youth. Moreover, the B’More for Youth! Plan is fundamentally about shifting the “Cradle to Prison Pipeline” to a “Cradle to Career Pipeline.” The Plan is focused on the following overarching outcomes:
- Over the next five years, increase the percent of citizens that report feeling “safe” or “very safe” at night in their neighborhood to 75 percent through a range of community-based public safety, legal, and public health efforts.
- Decrease the number of youth under the age of 25 being arrested by five percent per year by improving police-community relations and providing alternatives to entering the criminal justice system.
- Sustain and increase the juvenile diversion to arrest ratio, decreasing the number of people under the age of 25 entering the justice system.
- Decrease the number of young people experiencing or witnessing violence by reducing the annual number of juvenile homicide and non-fatal shooting victims (combined) to less than 20 per year in the next five years.
- Decrease the rate of Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) among youth of color as measured by the Relative Rate Index (RRI) for juveniles and youth ages 18 to 24.
- Increase the number of young people by one percent per year in Baltimore’s Cradle to Career Pipeline.
Through building on and connecting with many assets and a number of other initiatives, the Plan’s overarching purpose will be accomplished primarily through the following five goals:
Goal 1: Early childhood is safe and nurturing.
Goal 2: Families are supported, connected, and empowered.
Goal 3: All young people are connected to a trusted adult.
Goal 4: Neighborhoods engage young people in positive opportunities.
Goal 5: People and neighborhoods have economic opportunities.