City council sets aside more money for youth programs - KCTV5

City council sets aside more money for youth programs

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Kansas City, MO's city council Thursday passed a $1 billion budget which includes money to try and keep kids out of trouble.

Finding a safe place for kids to hang out can sometimes feel like a scavenger hunt - bouncing from one place to the next, until someone catches them, like the staff at the Kansas City North Community Center.

"It's a good thing to be doing, to be coming to the center. It keeps you out of trouble," said Kendell Williams who visits the community center daily.

And now some increased funding means the center can offer even more options - they've hired staff and expanded hours. It's all because the city council Thursday moved ahead with funneling money from increased parking fines into youth programming.

A group of judges voted on Tuesday to increase the parking fines by $5 a ticket to meet youth needs.

"We cannot tell kids where they cannot go and then give them no place to go," said Kansas City, MO, Mayor Sly James.

The new funding nearly doubles what the city spent last year, up to about $400,000, and expands youth programs beyond the urban core, further south, and north of the river.

"We cannot and do not and will not discriminate against any part of this city. All of the children, all the youth of this city need to have access to safe, constructive outlets," James said.

The mayor said juvenile crime went down 16 percent after 7,000 kids joined in Club KC youth events last summer, and now folks at the community center said they're starting to see more results.

"When they're not here you don't know, you hear stuff from the kids that's not necessarily positive. Our vandalism rate has gone down since we can offer more for the kids and they just know they can come here," said Lisa Nichols, the director of the Kansas City North Community Center.

And those running youth programs hope the vandalism rate continues to fall and teens find what they're looking for.

The city now has about $400,000 that they've designated to spend for youth programming for this summer. They're also talking about expanding the youth programs to include after school activities for the entire year to serve even more need.

The mayor said this is the first time parking fines have been increased since the 90s.

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