Studies Show That Violence Prevention Saves Cities Money — Lots of Money

3 smiling men pose wearing maroon Cities United T-shirts

Cities United

Cities United Executive Director Anthony Smith (center) says there’s an obvious moral argument for violence prevention but financial arguments are not their opposite. He was with Hampton, Va., Mayor Donnie Tuck (left) and Louisville, Ky., Mayor Greg Fischer at the organization’s 6th Annual Convening in August 2019.

In the 18 years Paul Tutwiler has led the Northwest Jacksonville Community Development Corporation in Florida, the organization has tried a variety of strategies to reduce the neighborhood’s high levels of violent crime, all of them in collaboration with the local sheriff’s office. None have worked. 

“We realized that while we have had some successes in being able to make some improvements in the neighborhood, we really were not solving the problem,” he said. “In fact, we were displacing the problem — removing the problems to other areas, and sometimes, right around the corner or a couple of blocks over.” 

The problem needed a fresh look — and to Tutwiler and many other Jacksonville leaders, that look was Cure Violence. The program, which originated in Chicago, aims to reduce violence by approaching it as a communicable disease: In the immediate aftermath of a shooting, trained violence interrupters and outreach workers work in the community and at hospitals to prevent the spiral of retaliatory violence that often follows. 

They also connect the highest-risk people with services and support, and work to change community norms, which Tutwiler said is critical: “The problem began when we ignored the individuals in front of our house or allowed them to sell drugs or engage in this behavior,” he said. For the safety of its workers, the program does not engage with law enforcement. 

The program currently operates in more than 25 U.S. cities and 15 countries, and it has demonstrated dramatically positive results: a 56% reduction in killings in Baltimore; a 63% reduction in shootings in the South Bronx; 100% reductions in retaliation homicides in five of eight Chicago communities. Similar programs, like Advance Peace, the Group Violence Intervention and many hospital-based violence prevention programs have also had durable results. 

All rely on the use of credible messengers — “people who are respected community members who chose a different path,” said Marie Crandall, a surgeon at the University of Florida College of Medicine in Jacksonville. Her experiences with Cure Violence during her Chicago medical training led her to advocate for Jacksonville’s adoption of the program. 

The ‘wrong-pockets problem’

According to Cure Violence’s calculations, the program doesn’t just save lives — it saves money: Every dollar spent on the program reduces medical and criminal justice costs by nearly $16. Increasingly, activists and city administrators are realizing that the true savings of violence prevention are likely even higher than that — and that the financial case for implementing violence prevention programs may be the most compelling one to some stakeholders. 

Although economists have been examining the cost of violence for decades, several recent efforts have yielded some staggeringly large estimates of the potential savings to taxpayers that even small reductions in urban violence could produce. 

Serious-looking man with graying hair, mustache, beard, wearing glasses, dark blue jacket, light blue shirt.

Basic Books

Thomas Abt

“Basically, anything you do to address urban gun violence pays for itself many times over, even if it’s only moderately effective — even if it’s expensive, because the cost of a single homicide is so expensive,” wrote Thomas Abt in an email. He’s a senior fellow at the Council on Criminal Justice and author of the book “Bleeding Out: The Devastating Consequences of Urban Violence – and a Bold New Plan for Peace in the Streets.”

Still, funding violence prevention often runs up against the “wrong-pockets problem,” said Abt — the question of whether the city official who makes a violence prevention decision sees the windfall that decision yields. “That’s very hard to figure out, and so the idea that you can change a particular policymaker’s behavior is much harder because they may not see those savings,” he said. 

Still, violence prevention is often presented as “the right thing to do” without also being presented as the financially responsible thing to do. 

There is an obvious moral argument for violence prevention, said Anthony Smith, executive director of Cities United — but financial arguments are not their opposite. They’re just easier to sell to folks who “might see it as a moral thing,” he said, but “don’t move in a way that they would move if it were the economic and bottom line.”

Cities United helps cities comprehensively prevent violence by supporting their implementation of violence interruption programs and facilitating other, longer-term systems-change work.

How to price gun violence

City administrators need to know how much violence costs to determine how much money violence prevention saves. The great majority of violent crime in the U.S. involves guns — and in any city, a cascade of events follows a shooting, beginning at the scene of the crime. Police, fire department and emergency medical services respond to the scene, and a police investigation takes place. 

Once evidence is gathered, a specialized company conducts a cleanup of the crime scene. Gunshot victims are stabilized in trauma centers and often undergo surgery, inpatient hospital care and stay in rehabilitation centers. 

Meanwhile, the case against the alleged perpetrator of a shooting moves through the criminal justice system, which usually includes prosecution by the district attorney and defense by the public defender and a court process. During this process — and afterward, if a guilty verdict is handed down — the alleged perpetrator is incarcerated in a county or city jail, then in state prison.

In the case of a homicide, gunshot victims may be autopsied and must be buried, and their surviving loved ones may require bereavement support and additional financial support if the victim was the household’s main breadwinner. Surviving gunshot victims are often temporarily or permanently disabled and unable to return to work. In the case of incarceration of the alleged perpetrator and/or death of the victim, neither will pay income or sales tax.

Each of these points in the cascade costs money — but exactly how much? In 2018, the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (NICJR) tried to answer that question in a series of studies of the cost per shooting in six U.S. cities. The lowest cost for a fatal shooting was in Mobile, Ala. ($765,000) and the highest was in Stockton, Calif. ($2.5 million). 

2 smiling men, one in T-shirt, the other in blue police or security officer uniform, stand under tent outside.

Courtesy of Paul Tutwiler

Paul Tutwiler (left), CEO of the Northwest Jacksonville Community Development Corporation, says it’s critical that Cure Violence works to change community norms.

The estimated costs were for shootings involving one suspect, and often nearly doubled when two suspects were involved. The biggest costs — which were likely to also affect state budgets — came from incarceration, which at minimum cost more than four times any other sector’s costs. 

The cost to prevent one homicide is about $30,000, Abt estimates, in the context of a city’s rollout of a combination of violence prevention efforts. Using that figure, the return on a violence prevention investment in Mobile would be nearly 26-fold; Stockton’s investment would return $83 for each dollar spent. Even with prison placement costs removed, the return on investment would be substantial: 9-fold in Mobile and 16-fold in Stockton.

The savings of less violence

In a 2012 report, the Center for American Progress (CAP) presented estimates of the costs of violent crime to eight U.S. cities, including Jacksonville. In addition to many of the costs later counted in the NICJR studies, the CAP report tried to quantify the intangible costs of survivors’ pain and suffering. 

It also presented an analysis of the savings each city could expect if its violent crime rates decreased by either 10% or 25%. These savings included lower spending on police departments and courts and higher revenues from income earned by people who otherwise would have been crime victims or perpetrators.

But it was another source of savings that dominated a potential lower-crime landscape: housing values. The report found that homicides had a remarkable influence on the cost of housing in the neighborhoods where they took place: On average, reducing homicides in one ZIP code in one year yielded a 1.5% increase in housing values in that ZIP code the following year. The results were robust and consistent across the metropolitan areas of all eight cities. 

When housing values increase, the property tax revenues assessed also eventually rise. Over time, higher-valued housing stock leads to increased home sales, permitting and construction costs, all of which add dollars to city coffers. In turn, these changes draw business investment in neighborhoods, presenting additional sources of tax revenue.

The CAP report did not go so far as to project financial gains from the downstream effects of increasing housing values, nor to estimate the dollar value of increases in property tax revenue — it only projected cities’ expected total increase in the value of its housing stock with a 10% reduction in homicides. In Jacksonville, that expected increase was $600 million.

The NICJR studies did not consider lost property revenues among their costs. But in 2019, the city of Philadelphia did: After a year in which the city saw more homicides than in a decade, the office of its controller published a report that focused on the financial losses the city has sustained due to homicides, particularly on lost property value and tax revenue.

Philadelphia Controller Rebecca Rhynhart has seen other worthwhile projects go unfunded because cities argue they cannot afford them. “What I wanted to show,” she said, “is that there really isn’t an argument to be made that we don’t have the resources to fight this.”

The report centered on the link the CAP report had identified between neighborhood safety and home value. Philadelphia found that on average, eliminating one homicide would lead to a 2.3% increase in sale prices in the immediate neighborhood. According to the authors’ projections, reducing homicides by 10% in a single year would cost $10.5 million and yield a $13 million increase in property tax revenue. Over five years, the compounding effect of taxing an increasingly valuable home would bump the increased revenue to $114 million and the costs to $43 million — more than a 2.5-fold return on each dollar.

Did the eight cities in the 2012 CAP report begin violence prevention efforts in response to the study? Smith of Cities United doesn’t know. Such programs have begun in some of those cities since the report came out (Philadelphia and Boston, for instance), but it’s not clear that was in response to the report. 

Leaders in other cities may also be increasingly aware of the financial benefits of violence prevention. In a Chicago Sun-Times editorial last October, several city aldermen wrote that if Chicago rededicated to violence prevention just a fraction of the $3.5 billion it spends annually to cope with the downstream effects of gun violence, “we could save taxpayers billions of dollars every year.”

Funding can be the barrier

What does it actually take for a city to sustainably reduce violence? When Cities United helps a city try to achieve that goal, it starts with the mayors, Smith said. They choose a team of program champions from among their staff and the community. After a weeklong training at the organization’s Louisville, Ky. headquarters, that team starts down a path toward implementing a violence prevention program.

The biggest obstacles they face are not where you might expect them: Law enforcement officials are usually receptive to violence prevention programs, Smith said. “You hear over and over again, ‘We can’t arrest our way out of this,’” he said. 

It’s when the budget conversation starts that things get a little tricky. “The first thing that people go to is, ‘Are you taking dollars away?’” he said. And sometimes, to make sure enough is invested up front to help a violence prevention program be effective, money may indeed come out of the budget of a police department or another city line item. Smith tries to reframe the conversation around how violence prevention will help law enforcement meet its own goals, and the value of working in partnership: “It’s an add-on in the long term that makes everybody’s job easier.”

It’s not just law enforcement who pushes back on this change in paradigm: “Community members who don’t understand and who actually already feel safe because of law enforcement feel like they’re losing something, too,” he said. Elected officials seeking to appear “tough on crime” sometimes can’t see a path toward that image that includes violence prevention.

Smith pushes city officials to fund violence prevention programs fully and for the long term, as discontinuous or inadequate funding for these programs can cause real damage — not only to these programs’ credibility, but to the people at the heart of their work. Over the 20-year lifespan of Cure Violence, funding for the program’s Chicago sites has lapsed three times. Each lapse has been associated with striking increases in violence in the neighborhoods served by those sites. 

It’s not as simple as cause and effect, Crandall said, but when people sense a larger investment in and hope for the community from the outside, they may more readily think about alternatives to settling differences with a firearm. “When funding dramatically changes and people feel that they don’t matter anymore, then the fuse is shorter,” she said. “It’s a natural human reaction.”

Smith said he is often frustrated that the halfhearted funding of violence prevention programs results in incomplete “professionalization” of the people who put their lives on the line to do the street-level work: Outreach workers and violence interrupters usually work part-time and without benefits, he said, including mental health support and clear pathways for advancement. Inadequate support raises their risk for returning to illegal activities just to make ends meet, he said.

In communities where violence has been the norm for years, violence prevention programs alone are not enough to create durable change. For that reason, the second prong of Cities United’s approach is to ask mayors to think long term about what public safety really means. 

“It’s not about jails, law enforcement and detention centers, but it really is about access to quality education, access to affordable housing, opportunities to make a living wage,” Smith said. “We want to reduce homicides, but we also want to make sure that the folks that we’re keeping alive have reason to be alive, right?”

When the CAP report was published in 2012, its estimates indicated a 10% reduction in homicides in Jacksonville could save $4 million annually and lower costs to victims by $88 million annually. If homicides were reduced by a quarter, the added savings could enable the city to increase local spending on economic development by as much as 26%.

In 2019, the city’s Cure Violence program reportedly received $2.4 million from the city council, and the city recently requested an additional $750,000 from the Florida Legislature. U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, who represents an Illinois district that includes parts of Chicago, is working toward reintroducing a bill similar to the Public Health Violence Prevention Act, which he first introduced in 2017. That bill requested $1 billion in funding to broadly support programs aimed at reducing violence in a wide variety of sectors, including public health, nonprofits, health care facilities, schools and universities.

The message Smith sees in analyses like one Philadelphia conducted is clear: “We need to pay this up front because of what it saves us in the long run,” he said — and not just in the number of lives saved. “The bigger picture for most of the folks that you try to make the financial case to is, ‘What does the city gain in the end?’”

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Youth Relationship Building, Parenting, Financial Education and Job/Career Training Program Grants

OUR GRANT OPPORTUNITIES: Youth Today’s grant listings are carefully curated for our subscribers working in youth-related industries. Subscribers will find local, state, regional and national grant opportunities.

THIS GRANT’S FOCUS: Youth Development, Family Support, Parenting, Job/Career Training, Financial Education
Deadline:
July 1, 2020

“The Relationships, Education, Advancement, and Development for Youth for Life (READY4Life) grants will be targeted exclusively to youth, for projects designed to support healthy relationships and marriage, including the value of marriage in future family formation and skills-based healthy relationship and marriage education. Additionally, grants will support activities including parenting (for young fathers and mothers, as applicable), financial management, job and career advancement, and other activities. Projects must be targeted to youth, specified as individuals in high school (grades 9-12), or that are high-school aged or in late adolescence and early adulthood (ages 14 to 24). Applicants must submit proposals designed for youth as specified.

Applicants will be strongly encouraged to design programs targeted to one specific program model for one specific service population – e.g., youth in general high school settings, youth aging out of foster care, or youth who are parents– but not multiple models for multiple populations. Grants awarded will support family formation and strengthening activities through one or more of three healthy marriage promotion activities specified under the authorizing legislation: (1) marriage and relationship education/skills (MRES); (2) education in high schools; and (3) public advertising campaigns. ACF is interested in funding a diverse range of projects, from high impact projects, to moderate scope projects, to smaller scope projects. Applicants must provide evidence of organizational capacity to implement their proposed project.”

Funder: The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) – Office of Family Assistance (OFA)
Eligibility:
“All public and private entities are eligible to apply under this funding opportunity announcement (including, but not limited to, state, territorial, local, and quasi-governmental agencies, Native American tribal governments and tribal organizations, nonprofit organizations, independent school districts, public, private or Tribal institutions of higher education, and for-profit entities). Faith-based and community organizations that meet the eligibility requirements are eligible to receive awards under this funding opportunity announcement.”
Amount:
$500,000 – $1,500,000
Contact:
Link.


>>> CLICK HERE to see all of Youth Today’s GRANT LISTINGS

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Youth Relationship Building, Parenting, Financial Education and Job/Career Training Program Grants

OUR GRANT OPPORTUNITIES: Youth Today’s grant listings are carefully curated for our subscribers working in youth-related industries. Subscribers will find local, state, regional and national grant opportunities.

THIS GRANT’S FOCUS: Youth Development, Family Support, Parenting, Job/Career Training, Financial Education
Deadline:
July 1, 2020

“The Relationships, Education, Advancement, and Development for Youth for Life (READY4Life) grants will be targeted exclusively to youth, for projects designed to support healthy relationships and marriage, including the value of marriage in future family formation and skills-based healthy relationship and marriage education. Additionally, grants will support activities including parenting (for young fathers and mothers, as applicable), financial management, job and career advancement, and other activities. Projects must be targeted to youth, specified as individuals in high school (grades 9-12), or that are high-school aged or in late adolescence and early adulthood (ages 14 to 24). Applicants must submit proposals designed for youth as specified.

Applicants will be strongly encouraged to design programs targeted to one specific program model for one specific service population – e.g., youth in general high school settings, youth aging out of foster care, or youth who are parents– but not multiple models for multiple populations. Grants awarded will support family formation and strengthening activities through one or more of three healthy marriage promotion activities specified under the authorizing legislation: (1) marriage and relationship education/skills (MRES); (2) education in high schools; and (3) public advertising campaigns. ACF is interested in funding a diverse range of projects, from high impact projects, to moderate scope projects, to smaller scope projects. Applicants must provide evidence of organizational capacity to implement their proposed project.”

Funder: The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) – Office of Family Assistance (OFA)
Eligibility:
“All public and private entities are eligible to apply under this funding opportunity announcement (including, but not limited to, state, territorial, local, and quasi-governmental agencies, Native American tribal governments and tribal organizations, nonprofit organizations, independent school districts, public, private or Tribal institutions of higher education, and for-profit entities). Faith-based and community organizations that meet the eligibility requirements are eligible to receive awards under this funding opportunity announcement.”
Amount:
$500,000 – $1,500,000
Contact:
Link.


>>> CLICK HERE to see all of Youth Today’s GRANT LISTINGS

The post Youth Relationship Building, Parenting, Financial Education and Job/Career Training Program Grants appeared first on Youth Today.


Upper Midwest LGBTQIA Community Support During COVID Grants

OUR GRANT OPPORTUNITIES: Youth Today’s grant listings are carefully curated for our subscribers working in youth-related industries. Subscribers will find local, state, regional and national grant opportunities.

THIS GRANT’S FOCUS: COVID-19, LGBTQIA, LGBTQ Youth, Health, Human Services, Midwest
Deadline:
Ongoing

“The COVID-19 Response Fund is rapidly deploying resources to the LGBTQIA community affected by the coronavirus crisis. This Fund micro grants to individuals and nonprofits that are most affected by the Coronavirus.  The first round of grants is prioritizing the communities listed below, all of whom are particularly impacted by this crisis.

  • Low-income residents, including those without health insurance and/or access to sick days
  • Low-income workers in disproportionally impacted industries, such as healthcare and the service industry, as well as gig-economy workers
  • Residents with greater health risks, including people over age 60, people with compromised immune systems, and pregnant people
    • People experiencing homelessness
    • People with disabilities
    • Communities of color
    • Undocumented workers and families.”

Funder: The PFund Foundation
Eligibility:
Individuals, nonprofits and for-profits in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Amount:
Unspecified
Contact:
Link.


>>> CLICK HERE to see all of Youth Today’s GRANT LISTINGS

>>> CLICK HERE to see all of Youth Today’s COVID-19 GRANT LISTINGS

The post Upper Midwest LGBTQIA Community Support During COVID Grants appeared first on Youth Today.


Upper Midwest LGBTQIA Community Support During COVID Grants

OUR GRANT OPPORTUNITIES: Youth Today’s grant listings are carefully curated for our subscribers working in youth-related industries. Subscribers will find local, state, regional and national grant opportunities.

THIS GRANT’S FOCUS: COVID-19, LGBTQIA, LGBTQ Youth, Health, Human Services, Midwest
Deadline:
Ongoing

“The COVID-19 Response Fund is rapidly deploying resources to the LGBTQIA community affected by the coronavirus crisis. This Fund micro grants to individuals and nonprofits that are most affected by the Coronavirus.  The first round of grants is prioritizing the communities listed below, all of whom are particularly impacted by this crisis.

  • Low-income residents, including those without health insurance and/or access to sick days
  • Low-income workers in disproportionally impacted industries, such as healthcare and the service industry, as well as gig-economy workers
  • Residents with greater health risks, including people over age 60, people with compromised immune systems, and pregnant people
    • People experiencing homelessness
    • People with disabilities
    • Communities of color
    • Undocumented workers and families.”

Funder: The PFund Foundation
Eligibility:
Individuals, nonprofits and for-profits in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Amount:
Unspecified
Contact:
Link.


>>> CLICK HERE to see all of Youth Today’s GRANT LISTINGS

>>> CLICK HERE to see all of Youth Today’s COVID-19 GRANT LISTINGS

The post Upper Midwest LGBTQIA Community Support During COVID Grants appeared first on Youth Today.


Rural Quincy, Wash., Teens Respond To Pandemic, Help Adults With Digital Access

rural: Computer screen with people in 3 different boxes

From Quincy, Wash.,l 4-H group’s Facebook page

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Having young people teach digital skills to adults seems like a no-brainer. After all, how many adults have gotten a teenager to help them with an app or a device?

In spite of this talent pool, relatively few structured programs put teenage knowledge to use.

One program that has done so, however, is 4-H Tech Changemakers.

In May, three high school students sat in a car outside a public wi-fi hotspot in Quincy, Wash., with a laptop. Another student and their adult advisor joined them via Zoom. The group recorded a video letting Quincy residents know about four wi-fi hotspots set up for public use outside the library, community center and school.

“We’re making this video to let you guys know that we’re here to help you virtually with any questions you have about your phone or browsing the internet so feel free to send us a message through our Facebook page,” said Daisy Buenrostro, a Quincy HIgh School senior, on the video.

Vivian Geesy, a Quincy High junior, then gave the same message in Spanish.

Before the pandemic, the four girls had been teaching adults at weekly sessions at the Quincy Senior Center and Quincy public library.

They had taught two retired teachers to use their cell phones. A small business owner learned to make better use of his computer. A young man got lessons in Excel so he’d be prepared for his new job. Some people working on farms in the area came in to gain new skills.

“We’re a small rural community,” said Jeannie Keihn, Washington State University’s Grant County 4-H program coordinator. “Broadband connection is really difficult for a lot of people.” Quincy is located in an agricultural area that has a large Latino population. 

Across the United States, 19 million people in rural areas lack broadband internet. 

The 4-H Tech Changemakers program, begun in 2017 in a partnership between Microsoft and the National 4-H Council, was intended to increase digital skills in areas where they were lacking and to help young people become problem solvers around technology. Many of the grants to local 4-H programs end this summer. Theirs ends in July, but Keihn is hoping the program can somehow continue.

The 4-H members in Quincy chose to address the digital divide between adults and youth, Keihn said, which also connected the youth to their community and promoted respect.

As a youth development program, it can empower the teens as they become teachers and communicators.

When the coronavirus epidemic hit, the Quincy 4-H group had to figure out how to continue its work.

“The senior center was the first place to close,” Keihn said. The group discussed what could be done. They learned that wi-fi spots were being set up to broaden internet access during the pandemic.

“People could drive in [the hotspot area], stay in their cars, do work on computers or phone,” Keihn said.

After a lot of discussion, the group decided to reach people through Facebook, inform them about the hotspots and offer instruction. They plan to make additional videos, Keihn said.

Nora Medina, a Quincy High senior, said she enjoyed helping adults become more confident with computers and cell phones. “In the beginning, they were really shy with technology,” she told a Washington State University publication.

The fourth member of the group is Esmeralda Buenrostro, a sophomore at the school.

The post Rural Quincy, Wash., Teens Respond To Pandemic, Help Adults With Digital Access appeared first on Youth Today.


Latest climate models show more intense droughts to come

An analysis of new climate model projections by Australian researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes shows southwestern Australia and parts of southern Australia will see longer and more intense droughts due to a lack of rainfall caused by climate change.

Tracking fossil fuel emissions with carbon-14

Researchers from NOAA and the University of Colorado have devised a breakthrough method for estimating national emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels using ambient air samples and a well-known isotope of carbon that scientists have relied on for decades to date archaeological sites.

Ensure Justice for Migrant Workers Sent Home

Workers walk towards the construction site of the Lusail stadium which will be build for the upcoming 2022 Fifa soccer World Cup during a stadium tour in Doha, Qatar, December 20, 2019. 

© 2019 REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

(Beirut) – Countries around the world that send and receive migrant workers should enact a justice mechanism through which hastily repatriated workers can seek redress for human rights and labor violations, Human Rights Watch said today in endorsing a joint letter by a coalition of migrants rights and labor organizations.

The Covid-19 pandemic has severely affected millions of migrant workers in destination countries, many of whom have lost their jobs, been forced by employers to take unpaid leave or reduced wages, or not received their wages at all. Many migrant workers struggle with whether to return home despite their outstanding labor claims, while others remain stranded in cities or border areas in precarious conditions without access to services or support.

“Migrant workers worldwide are suffering the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Rothna Begum, senior women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The least governments can do is make sure that these workers get the salaries and compensation they have earned before they were forced to leave their jobs.”

Each year, millions of dollars are lost in potential remittances due to wage theft. Repatriation of migrant workers without due diligence by the countries involved in the time of the pandemic will only exacerbate the injustices to which migrant workers are often subjected.

Human Rights Watch for instance has documented over several years how many migrant workers in the Middle East, mostly from Asia and Africa, have been forced to leave the country they were working in without being paid wages owed to them.

Countries of destination and origin have begun procedures to repatriate migrant workers. The groups endorsing the joint letter warned that without adequate oversight by the authorities, employers might take advantage of mass repatriation programs to terminate and return workers to whom they have not provided full compensation, wages, and benefits.

The groups said that countries of origin and destination should work together to urgently put in place a justice mechanism through which repatriated workers who lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic can address labor disputes. Such a mechanism should be fast, accessible, affordable, and efficient. The mechanism should ensure that all repatriated workers with legitimate claims are able to access justice and compensation.

The mechanism should also provide safeguards and mobilize resources to ensure that migrants are able to pursue their cases after they return to their countries, the groups said. They should have access to legal advice and support, a way to facilitate power of attorney procedures, and ways to ease requirements for in-person testimony. The countries of destination where the migrants worked should require employers and businesses to keep all employment records and allow workers to take copies of their records with them.

US: Investigate ‘Remain in Mexico’ Program 

Clothing hangs to dry at a makeshift migrant camp for asylum seekers in Matamoros, Tamaulipas state, Mexico, on March 1, 2020. 

© 2020 Alejandro Cegarra/Bloomberg/Getty Images

(Washington, DC) – The United States government should initiate an internal investigation into the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” program, Human Rights Watch said today after submitting a formal complaint to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The department should be held accountable for its failure to protect asylum seekers under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program from routine targeting in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. 

The complaint was submitted to the DHS Office of the Inspector General and the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, both of which are responsible for ensuring that the department complies with the law and its own policies. 

“Under the ‘Remain in Mexico’ program, the Department of Homeland Security has knowingly sent tens of thousands of vulnerable asylum seekers across the border where criminal organizations have long preyed on migrants,” said Ariana Sawyer, US border researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The DHS inspector general should investigate and act since Homeland Security has run roughshod over federal and international law by returning asylum seekers to harm.”

Under the MPP program – known as “Remain in Mexico” – non-Mexican asylum seekers in the United States are sent to cities in Mexico while awaiting asylum hearings in US immigration court. The program has had serious rights consequences for returned asylum seekers. Human Rights Watch has repeatedly urged the US government to immediately end the program, stop returning asylum seekers to Mexico, and instead ensure them access to humanitarian support, safety, and due process in immigration court proceedings.

Criminal organizations that routinely kidnap migrants operate on the assumption that most asylum seekers in the MPP program have US relatives who can be extorted for thousands of dollars. The program has created an exploitation boom, turning asylum seekers with US-based family members into commodities and adding to cartel profits. A kidnapped asylum seeker reported that one of his captors told him the cartel had been hiring. “Since the United States is deporting so many through here, we are capturing them and that has meant more work,” his captor told him. “We’re saturated.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the dangers for these asylum seekers, as they are compelled to wait for delayed hearings in crowded camps and shelters with limited and rudimentary sanitation facilities and where social distancing is impossible.

Asylum seekers expelled to the Mexican state of Tamaulipas under the program are routinely targeted for life-threatening violence including kidnapping, extortion, and sexual assault, Human Rights Watch said. This was predictable given the well-documented history of persecution of migrants in that region by both criminal organizations and Mexican law enforcement, as well as longstanding US State Department warnings against travel to the state due to “crime and kidnapping” carried out with near total impunity. 

In Tamaulipas alone, Human Rights Watch identified:

  • At least 32 instances of kidnapping or attempted kidnapping of asylum seekers in the MPP program – mostly by criminal organizations – between November 2019 and January 2020.
  • Those instances involved at least 80 asylum seekers kidnapped; another 19 described kidnapping attempts.
  • Among those, at least 38 children were kidnapped or subjected to kidnapping attempts.
  • Reports by 4 women of sexual assault during kidnapping incidents.
  • Five brief abductions and extortion by Mexican police, a practice known as “express kidnapping.”

 

One woman said she was sexually assaulted in front of her child after being kidnapped for the second time and another woman reported that she had a miscarriage after being punched in the stomach during a robbery. In multiple incidents, victims said Mexican police either ignored reports of violence or were themselves implicated in the crimes.  

Asylum seekers in the MPP program can be easily identifiable in Mexico. They often appear foreign, speak with noticeable accents, or do not speak Spanish at all. Customs and Border Protection agents routinely send them to Mexico without shoelaces – initially taken to keep them from harming themselves in detention – and with plastic folders containing their notice to appear in court, making them easier for criminal elements to identify.

Asylum seekers gave Human Rights Watch consistent accounts of being kidnapped from bus terminals, taxis, and even outside or within Mexican immigration offices near US ports of entry. They said that kidnappers made knowing reference to the fact that they were “migrants,” “refugees,” or “foreigners” and referred to them by their country of origin or asked where they were from.

The armed operatives quickly confiscated cellphones and transported them to “stash houses” where they frequently saw other kidnapped asylum seekers. They described an apparently standardized intake process: their abductors photographed them, inspected identity and court documents, and logged identifying information into a notebook. Criminal organizations then set an extortion amount – ranging from $2,000 to more than $20,000 per person – and then searched through asylum seekers’ phone contacts for US-based numbers to call.

One asylum seeker from El Salvador traveling with his wife and young son told a DHS agent that he had been punched “several times” while being kidnapped for ransom. “Two times whenever I was on the phone [with] my mother-in-law asking about the money. They would hit me to make me scream and convince her to send the money,” based on an attorney’s interview notes.   

“Migrants fleeing persecution have a right to safely pursue their US asylum cases from within the United States,” Sawyer said. “Homeland Security should immediately stop returning asylum seekers to Tamaulipas State and end the abusive ‘Remain in Mexico’ program.”
 

Protect Civilians from Explosive Weapons

A man looks at damaged buildings after deadly airstrikes in Sanaa, Yemen, on May 7, 2018. 
© 2018 Hani Mohammed/AP Photo

(Washington, DC) – Countries should heed the United Nations secretary-general’s call for a new political declaration to protect civilians from the bombing and shelling of cities and towns, Human Rights Watch said today, releasing a report on the subject with Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic.

The 11-page document addresses the importance of a political commitment and elaborates on what it should contain. The use of explosive weapons in populated areas has inflicted immediate and long-term suffering on civilians in Syria, Libya, Yemen, and other areas of recent conflict. 

“Countries should agree to a political declaration to prevent the foreseeable human suffering caused by the use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas,” said Bonnie Docherty, senior arms researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The declaration should establish that this method of war is unacceptable. Civilian lives are at stake.”

In his annual report on the “Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict,” which he presented to the UN Security Council last week, Secretary-General António Guterres highlighted the “fundamental need” for a new political declaration. It should commit countries to avoid using explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas, he wrote.

Countries began the process to create a political declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas in 2019, but the negotiations have been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While not legally binding, political declarations shape state behavior by outlining standards for national policies and practices and clarifying existing international law.

A minority of countries, including the United States, have sought to water down the declaration, recommending weaker commitments on the broader topic of urban warfare.

“A political declaration will have the greatest impact if it lays out a specific solution for a specific problem,” said Docherty, who is also the Harvard Clinic’s associate director of armed conflict and civilian protection. “Negotiators should stay focused on the humanitarian imperative to address the well-documented civilian harm inflicted by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

The political declaration should address the direct, indirect, and reverberating effects of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, Human Rights Watch and the Clinic said. Explosive weapons, such as aircraft bombs, rockets, and missiles, not only kill and injure civilians at the time of attack but also have serious ripple effects. Destruction of power stations, water treatment plants, hospitals, schools, and other infrastructure interferes with the provision of basic services, such as health care and education. The damage also causes forced displacement, and lingering explosive remnants of war make it difficult to return safely.

The wide-area effects of some explosive weapons – which result from a broad blast and fragmentation radius, inaccuracy, and/or the delivery of multiple munitions at once – greatly exacerbate the humanitarian consequences. 

To prevent such harm, the declaration should commit counties to avoid using these weapons in populated areas. They should also consider the foreseeable harm caused by the practice when assessing the proportionality of a proposed attack.

The declaration should, in addition, incorporate a robust commitment to assist affected individuals, families, and communities. It should include provisions to collect and share data, which is essential to document the problem and inform a response.

Finally, the declaration should commit countries to meet annually to review the implementation and effectiveness of the declaration. Such meetings should include international and nongovernmental organizations.

In October, Austria initiated the process to develop a political commitment to reduce the harm caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. At two meetings hosted by Ireland at the UN in Geneva, more than 70 countries discussed the elements of the declaration and started to consider specific language. Despite the inability to hold in-person negotiations at this point, Ireland has sought comment on a draft text and plans to resume the process as soon as it is safe to do so.

Human Rights Watch is a co-founder of the International Network on Explosive Weapons, a coalition established by humanitarian, legal, and other civil society groups in 2011 to push for immediate action to prevent human suffering from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

Boston COVID Crisis Food Access, Education, Health and Human Services Grants

OUR GRANT OPPORTUNITIES: Youth Today’s grant listings are carefully curated for our subscribers working in youth-related industries. Subscribers will find local, state, regional and national grant opportunities.

THIS GRANT’S FOCUS: COVID-19, Food Access, Child Welfare, Family Support, Education, Human Services, Boston
Deadline:
Ongoing

“The Boston Resiliency Fund is the City of Boston’s effort to help coordinate fundraising and philanthropic efforts to provide essential services to Boston residents whose health and well-being are most immediately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. We are also working to help first responders and critical care providers.

The priorities of the Boston Resiliency Fund are to:

  • provide food to Boston’s children, families and seniors
  • technology to Boston Public Schools students for remote learning, and
  • provide support to first responders, front-line workers and healthcare workers so they can effectively do their job and promote public health.

While we are focused on basic needs and critical services, we recognize that this crisis is evolving quickly. The priorities of this fund may change as the needs of Boston residents evolve.”

Funder: The Boston Resiliency Fund
Eligibility:
“This fund can only make grants to 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations or those groups with a 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor.”
Amount:
Unspecified
Contact:
Link.


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>>> CLICK HERE to see all of Youth Today’s COVID-19 GRANT LISTINGS

The post Boston COVID Crisis Food Access, Education, Health and Human Services Grants appeared first on Youth Today.


Boston COVID Crisis Food Access, Education, Health and Human Services Grants

OUR GRANT OPPORTUNITIES: Youth Today’s grant listings are carefully curated for our subscribers working in youth-related industries. Subscribers will find local, state, regional and national grant opportunities.

THIS GRANT’S FOCUS: COVID-19, Food Access, Child Welfare, Family Support, Education, Human Services, Boston
Deadline:
Ongoing

“The Boston Resiliency Fund is the City of Boston’s effort to help coordinate fundraising and philanthropic efforts to provide essential services to Boston residents whose health and well-being are most immediately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. We are also working to help first responders and critical care providers.

The priorities of the Boston Resiliency Fund are to:

  • provide food to Boston’s children, families and seniors
  • technology to Boston Public Schools students for remote learning, and
  • provide support to first responders, front-line workers and healthcare workers so they can effectively do their job and promote public health.

While we are focused on basic needs and critical services, we recognize that this crisis is evolving quickly. The priorities of this fund may change as the needs of Boston residents evolve.”

Funder: The Boston Resiliency Fund
Eligibility:
“This fund can only make grants to 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations or those groups with a 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor.”
Amount:
Unspecified
Contact:
Link.


>>> CLICK HERE to see all of Youth Today’s GRANT LISTINGS

>>> CLICK HERE to see all of Youth Today’s COVID-19 GRANT LISTINGS

The post Boston COVID Crisis Food Access, Education, Health and Human Services Grants appeared first on Youth Today.


The Land of Inopportunity: Closing the Childhood Equity Gap for America’s Kids

See Full Report

Interactive Map

Author(s): Save the Children

  • Tracy Geoghegan
  • Beryl Levinger
  • Nikki Gillette

Published: June 2, 2020

Report Intro/Brief:
“Save the Children has created the first-ever ranking of U.S. counties where children are most and least prioritized and protected. Researchers examined data from more than 2,600 counties and county-equivalents in all 50 states. The rankings are based on four factors that cut childhood short: child hunger, poor education, teenage pregnancy and early death due to ill health, accident, murder or suicide. This report uncovers an unacceptable reality in America, where one child can be exponentially more likely than another to succeed in life based solely on the county where they grow up.”


>>> CLICK HERE to see all of Youth Today’s REPORT LIBRARY

The post The Land of Inopportunity: Closing the Childhood Equity Gap for America’s Kids appeared first on Youth Today.


The Land of Inopportunity: Closing the Childhood Equity Gap for America’s Kids

See Full Report

Interactive Map

Author(s): Save the Children

  • Tracy Geoghegan
  • Beryl Levinger
  • Nikki Gillette

Published: June 2, 2020

Report Intro/Brief:
“Save the Children has created the first-ever ranking of U.S. counties where children are most and least prioritized and protected. Researchers examined data from more than 2,600 counties and county-equivalents in all 50 states. The rankings are based on four factors that cut childhood short: child hunger, poor education, teenage pregnancy and early death due to ill health, accident, murder or suicide. This report uncovers an unacceptable reality in America, where one child can be exponentially more likely than another to succeed in life based solely on the county where they grow up.”


>>> CLICK HERE to see all of Youth Today’s REPORT LIBRARY

The post The Land of Inopportunity: Closing the Childhood Equity Gap for America’s Kids appeared first on Youth Today.


New Types of Therapy Hold Promise at One Treatment Foster Care Program

therapy: Adult bearded man rejects advice of family psychologist; woman and child sit next to him looking upset

Freeograph/Shutterstock

.

Vast, beautiful land coupled with a rich history and cultural allure solidify the reality of New Mexico as the “Land of Enchantment.” Beyond the beauty, reports about the state are often of broken systems, poverty, addiction, high crime rate and its status as the lowest-ranking state for overall child well-being. 

Child-serving agencies in the state are working tirelessly to improve the lives of New Mexico’s children. One treatment foster care (TFC) program in northwest New Mexico is determined to resist the negative outlook assumed of the New Mexican foster care system and instead focus on providing the children in its care with the best possible outcomes, including discharge to a lower level of care, zero restraints and shorter treatment timelines.

Childhaven has served the Four Corners region for 50 years through its children’s emergency shelter, children’s advocacy center, parent education, child and family therapy, CASA volunteer and treatment foster care (TFC) programs. The organization’s proximity to rural, tribal lands greatly influences the composition of its client population, approximately 50% of which are Native American children. 

therapy: Andrea Pena (headshot), development director of Childhaven Foundation, smiling woman with brown hair

Andrea Pena

Its TFC program, staffed by a majority Native American personnel, is the only therapeutic placement of its kind for traumatized children in the northwestern corner of New Mexico. The program makes every effort to keep sibling groups together, who might be split up if placed elsewhere. It also serves as an alternative to residential treatment centers, which do not offer a home-like environment. 

The organization’s experienced foster parents support the healing of their foster children in a variety of ways including accompanying them to therapy appointments, family-centered meetings and educational planning meetings. A group of program staff called treatment coordinators oversee this highly regulated Medicaid-funded program that provides 24/7 support to eight foster homes and can care for up to 19 children. 

Accountability is high in this program. Treatment coordinators conduct weekly check-ins at each home and visit with each child in their care to monitor treatment progress and overall well-being. Approximately 80% of the children placed in the program discharge to a lower level of care, assuring the least restrictive environment for children. Over the last five years, Childhaven has seen the length of stay among children in the program trend downward, showing the treatment methods are working to reunite children with permanent placements more quickly.

New types of treatment

Treatment foster parents undergo rigorous initial and ongoing training to support their foster child’s ability to overcome behavioral challenges and ultimately transition successfully out of the program and into a safe, permanent home. Recently, the program adopted a new treatment modality, the Nurtured Heart Approach (NHA). Previous models fell short in their ability to prepare caregivers to effectively support children with higher than average emotional and behavioral needs. 

Through the Nurtured Heart Approach, caregivers are trained to strengthen the caregiver-child relationship and improve the way the child relates to themselves and the world, thereby improving the child’s chance at a successful placement in the future. Childhaven is not the only organization in the state to transition to the NHA. Many others are doing so as well, with the hope of reducing foster care placement disruptions and, more generally, the removal of New Mexican children from their biological homes. 

As the majority of children in the program are Native American, the Indian Child Welfare Act applies and prioritizes permanent placements with Native American families. Childhaven employs a certified NHA trainer who assures the program’s foster parents, staff and future placement parents are well-versed in the approach. This has enabled the organization to enhance outcomes in their treatment foster care program and attract more prospective foster parents.  

Therapy is provided to the child at least weekly and the child’s biological parents, relatives or parents vying for guardianship are included in family therapy when the treatment team concurs the child is ready to move on to this step. This helps prepare the family to continue using the tools the child has learned in treatment. 

Currently, therapists are learning a new evidence-based model called Alternatives for Families, which uses cognitive behavioral techniques geared especially for families that have experienced trauma related to domestic violence, substance abuse, family conflicts, physical aggression, anger and all forms of child abuse. This trauma-informed approach is an intervention designed to improve the relationship between children and their caregivers by addressing individual and family problems. 

Perspective from a highly regulated TFC program utilizing evidence-based treatment modalities could seem inconsequential to some. However, the program serves as a lifeline of hope for many children in the Four Corners region of the United States in need of healing from the abuse, neglect and abandonment they did not deserve. 

Childhaven’s mission of “Lifting Children from Crisis to Hope” is their daily focus and method for navigating a system presumed to be broken. As valuable work and advocacy regarding child welfare and foster care continue in New Mexico, Childhaven will be among the organizations working to improve the overall health and well-being of children in the state. Its treatment philosophies and standards of best practice will continue to evolve alongside research in the field to give children in the area the best chance of achieving positive outcomes. 

Andrea Pena is the development director of the Childhaven Foundation.

Childhaven’s Erin Hourihan (CEO), Elex Portell (executive assistant), Amanda Litschke (foster care program director), Michelle Renaud (clinical supervisor) and Galadriel Currin (foster care liaison/treatment coordinator) contributed to this column.

The post New Types of Therapy Hold Promise at One Treatment Foster Care Program appeared first on Youth Today.


The human factor limits hope of climate fixes

Engineering the climate can help lower temperatures and reduce climate change impacts. New research shows that when accounting for human behavior, climate engineering leads to significant economic and social risks. In a first-of-its-kind laboratory experiment, researchers found that both rational and irrational factors in the decision to fix the climate leads to welfare losses and increased inequality. The paper, published in the journal PNAS, casts new doubts over the feasibility of large-scale climate interventions.