Mayor Woodfin details Department of Youth Services plan to improve community

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – The city is changing the Youth Services Division in a department and funneled $3.1 million toward their community betterment efforts.

“We need to dedicate more resources, commitment, time and a sense of urgency to supporting our young people,” said Mayor Randall Woodfin.

The hope is that these funds and the programs they create will improve the lives of young people in Birmingham. Not only setting them up for success, but helping kids avoid pitfalls like gun violence.

“We need to dedicate more resources, commitment, time and a sense of urgency to supporting our young people,” Woodfin said.

The new department will offer several programs and courses in the coming months, but conflict resolution training will be one of its main focuses.

“One of the best ways I know to lay down the guns is to fully invest in conflict resolution for the next generation.”

The mayor wants DYS to also help students who have already made a mistake or two with the youth reintegration program.

“The beauty is that the City of Birmingham didn’t create the program. The program is in partnership with the state and county. We support it by funding a program that we know will be successful. So when these students come out of state custody and back into their everyday environment, which includes their schools, they will be ready to learn.

The city joins Birmingham City Schools start financial literacy classes before the end of this semester. They’re also bringing back the FOX 6 Jobs program, designed to help kids get a taste of the workforce.

“We think it’s very important to expose our young people to opportunities while they’re in high school. The opportunity to leave early, receive high school credit while working, earn a living wage, and pursue something they have a dream and a passion for.

Now that these programs are receiving additional funding, the city needs to publicize their existence and benefits.

“So it’s up to us. I don’t think we should rely on social media. We shouldn’t rely on emails. I think we have to go where our parents are. Where do our parents live. I think we need to stand on their porch, stand on their front yard, and for those who invite us into their homes to listen to them. But we have to share these are the services we provide, and please enjoy.

So, what should you remember from our meeting with the mayor? First, several programs are receiving key funding to improve the lives of young people here in Birmingham. Second, the city is not rising to the challenge alone. Public and private partners will be essential and finally, many of them will be operational in the next four months.

Once program start dates are approved by City Council, we will update live and online. The annual Fox 6 Kids and Jobs event took place this summer and the third-grade “Page Pals” literacy program will begin later this month.

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