Mayor Clarence Harmon


St. Louis 2004's Safe Places for Kids initiative has one simple purpose: to ensure that every child in the region will experience consistent opportunities in safe places that contribute to positive character and competency development in their neighborhoods, schools and other settings. A cornerstone of this initiative is community involvement. We anticipate youth and parental involvement in each stage of the process: 1) planning and design 2) implementation and 3) evaluation. A second cornerstone is building on and integrating current activities. Many neighborhoods have some services. The Safe Places for Kids initiative will connect currently fragmented services into an effective network that covers all children all the time with no duplication. We often refer to the initiative as an effort to "connect the dots" in each neighborhood, making every existing program more effective and identifying and filling gaps.

St. Louis 2004's Rearing and Nurturing Children and Youth Effectively Task Force developed a proposal that became the starting ground for this initiative. The Task Force directed the Safe Places for Kids Work Group, that includes local service providers and interested citizens, to do three things:

1) Develop unity and commitment in the region to the ideal of positive child and youth development;

2) Establish practical approaches and programs based on best practices that will contribute to positive child and youth development;

3) Enable organizations, institutions and systems to become intentional about positive character and competency building in children and youth.

The Task Force set the following measurable objectives:

1) Number of additional safe places created for children and youth in the region;

2) Number of facilities that develop expanded programming;

3) Number of staff and volunteers who receive training; and

4) Number of additional volunteers to work with children and youth.

Goals for St. Louis 2004

With the support of the Danforth Foundation, we propose the development of safe places for kids in six demonstration areas (three in 1998 and three in 1999). The demonstration areas will be regional models of a community infrastructure that provides leadership, highly trained staff and volunteers, and resources and commitment to children's out-of- school time. The demonstrations will provide an expanded and strengthened system within which the community is collaborating to expend resources to help all children access affordable and appropriate opportunities during non-school time.

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
Telephone (202) 293-7330, FAX (202) 293-2352

Copyright 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.