Council Update: More than 270 PBC youth benefit from enhanced mentoring program

A new mentoring program that connects historically underserved youth with long-term, supportive role models is showing positive results in Palm Beach County, staff shared with Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County’s board at its March meeting.

The program, called Level Up, began in 2021-2022 as an outgrowth of the Birth to 22: United for Brighter Futures Safety and Justice workgroup, which saw a need for additional support for youth involved with the juvenile justice and/or child welfare systems. The program serves youth ages 11-19 and is funded over three years by CSC at $1.08 million and by the county’s Youth Services Department at $878,500.

Level Up, which is run by United Way of Palm Beach County, is available through three mentoring hubs: Boys and Girls Club of Palm Beach County, Xcel Strategies Mentoring and Milagro Center. The program served many more than expected at 273 youth last year, 149 of which had mentors. Ninety percent of all youth served did not become involved in criminal activity, and 87 percent of parents/guardians and mentors who attended trainings improved their knowledge of the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.

Staff also acknowledged some challenges in the first year, including:
•    Program start-up time
•    Mentee engagement
•    Staff turnover
•    Transportation
•    Referral issues

This coming year, the program aims to provide mentors to at least 225 youth, with at least 75 percent not getting involved in criminal activity. The program also wants to ensure that at least 30 percent of youth who are not attending school or working become connected or reconnected to their community in productive ways.

In other business

Great Ideas Initiative: The Council approved re-purposing under expenditures to fund the Great Ideas Initiative, in an amount not to exceed $1 million, and additional summer camp scholarships, in an amount not to exceed $1.3 million. 

The Great Ideas Initiative provides grants to local nonprofits to launch their great ideas on behalf of the county’s children and families. The GII is open to local nonprofits with operating budgets of less than $1 million, which are working in partnership with local communities to achieve mutually agreed upon goals and aspirations. 

Summer camp scholarships, which are administered by the county’s Youth Services Department, provide funding for eligible families to send their children to day camp for the summer. Parents can choose from around 85 camps across the county. The $1.3 million, in addition to the $2.6 million already allocated, will allow 500 more children to attend summer camp.

Financial Reporting: Children’s Services Council earned a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association. This is the 10th year the council has earned this award, which is the highest form of recognition in government accounting and financial reporting. 

About Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County

The Council is a local, special-purpose government created by Palm Beach County voters in 1986 and reauthorized in 2014. For more than 30 years, it has provided leadership, funding, services and research on behalf of the county’s children so they grow up healthy, safe and strong.

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