Addressing Youth, Family Violence: Santa Monica Fund Set Up To Support Prevention

Friday, 21 Jun 2013, 8:55:00 AM

Brenton Garen

Santa Monica’s Cradle to Career representatives Jonathan Mooney and Irma Carranza spoke at a press conference Tuesday about the importance of a collective approach to address youth and family violence.
Photo by Brenton Garen
Santa Monica’s Cradle to Career representatives Jonathan Mooney and Irma Carranza spoke at a press conference Tuesday about the importance of a collective approach to address youth and family violence.

A private donation of $50,000 will help start a Youth & Family

Violence Prevention Fund in Santa Monica in response to the City’s three

shootings in five days, officials from the City, school district, and

SMC announced Tuesday.

The funds will go to Santa Monica’s Cradle to Career group who will

take the lead through an inter-agency collaboration to address youth and

family violence.

SMMUSD Superintendent Sandra Lyon said the school district was

committed to a collective impact approach to help youth and their

families.

“As we all recover from these events and incidents, one of the things

we try and do at first is ask why did this happen,” Lyon said. “Then in

the next days and weeks we try to figure out how we can make sure

something like this doesn’t happen again.”

Lyon said issues such as domestic violence and mental illness were

not isolated to Santa Monica, adding “as a school system, we cannot

address those issues by ourselves.”

“As superintendent, we do what we can within our school in order to

make sure that our students and our families are properly cared for,”

she said. “What we’re talking about is a societal issue, it’s a

community issue, and it’s an issue that’s going to take a collective

approach in order for us to support students in need and families in

need.”

Irma Carranza, of the Cradle to Career Group, reiterated the importance of a collective approach.

“We came together as a community about two and a half years ago when

we had the death of Richard Juarez here at Virginia Avenue Park and the

suicide of Matthew Mezza following soon after that,” Carranza said. “We

had to come together as a community and almost do a reflection and

evaluation of what we’re missing in our community. Clearly what the

community wanted and asked for was for everybody, all the different

partners in Santa Monica, to come together and take this on with what’s

happening with our young folks in the community.”

The Cradle to Career group has produced and released Santa Monica’s first Youth Wellbeing Report Card in October 2012.

“Over the last year and a half we’ve been gathering all the different

data from different institutions and different resources to take a look

and see what the data is telling us,” Carranza said. “We have

testimonies from parents and youth and what they’re feeling. We also

wanted to go ahead and have data and tell us where the gaps are, where

we may be falling short.”

Carranza said the Cradle to Career group was currently focused on addressing areas of concern within its partnership.

“What the data tells us, as a city, we’re actually doing a really

good job in many areas, but we’re falling short in some areas,” Carranza

said. “One of those areas is older youth (under the age of 24). Another

thing that is happening is a lot of kids are kind of self-medicating

through alcohol use, or other forms, and the data is confirming there is

something going on in older youth, but there’s also something going on

as early as entering kindergarten. The collective work is about

addressing all those gaps and where we’re falling short.”

Jonathan Mooney, consultant and facilitator of Cradle to Career, said

it and its partners were looking to solve an entrenched problem.

“The events of the last week are a reminder of the tragic plague of

gun violence, not just in California, but in this country,” Mooney said.

“They are a reminder of the critical and urgent need for mental health

services and to take that seriously as a community, as a country.

They’re a reminder of the critical need to work with young folks 18 and

older, and how we don’t have a system to work with young folks in that

age demographic. It’s also a reminder that social problems don’t just

have one route, or one solution. They are multi-faceted. Subsequently

it’s not one entity or one organization that can solve those problems.

What we’ve learned over the last week is that individual institutions

and entities did whatever they could to mitigate and prevent a tragic

loss of life.”

The Cradle to Career community partners include the City of Santa

Monica, Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District, Santa Monica

College, Boys & Girls Club, Center for Civic Mediation, Community

for Excellent Public Schools, Childcare & Early Education Task

Force, CLARE Foundation, Community Corporation, Connections for

Children, Family Services of Santa Monica, Lifelong Learning Community,

the Male Violence Prevention Project, OPCC/Sojourn Services, Pico

Neighborhood Association, Pico Youth & Family Center, Saint John’s

Child & Family Development Center, Saint Joseph Center, Santa Monica

Police Department, SMMUSD PTA Council, among others.

For more information on Santa Monica’s Cradle to Career initiatives

or to make a donation to the Youth & Family Violence Prevention

Fund, visit www.santamonicayouth.net.

Copyright © 2011 by Santa Monica Mirror. All rights reserved.