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Gainesville staff starts plans for new Office of Child & Youth Development

Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 6:30 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -The idea is to have a central hub run by the city of Gainesville that can serve as a one-stop shop for all types of youth programs. District 3 Gainesville city commissioner David Arreola got the green light on Monday to bring the idea to life.

“And we want to make sure that children aren’t being left behind as well,” said Arreola. “We have so many programs, so many services but they’re not really all in one place.”

Staff was directed in the special meeting on Monday to build a new budget for the new office.

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“My hope is that within the coming years we can start to hire youth work during the summer,” mentioned Arreola. “That we can help get people placed in career programs, help kids even plan their future if that includes college or technical training. And all these things, that’s what we want to do for these children. We want a place where we have very low youth unemployment.”

To bring the Office of Child and Youth Development to life, Arreola is working with programs in town that focus on youth development both physically and mentally, like Aces In Motion.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” said Addison Staples, Executive Director for Aces In Motion. Programs like Aces In Motion work with middle and high schoolers in Alachua County in an after-school setting. The group has a mission of using tennis to promote health, character development and academic achievement for students in under-served communities. Their director said the new office would help support their mission.

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“I think that is one of the major things we’re lacking,” said Staples. “A comprehensive youth system that supports all youth no matter what zip code they come from. No matter race or ethnicity, age, all of it. That kids are supported from birth to 18, if not 22.”

Once city staff creates a financial plan for the new office, city commissioners will have a final vote on approving the Office of Child and Youth Development.

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