Mayor George Miller

(Tucson Parks & Recreation)

1. Briefly describe the structure of the program?

KIDCO is a free after-school and summer recreation program for elementary school-aged youth. It runs 24 weeks a year at 31 sites, four days a week and 2 1/2 hours a day, from school dismissal to 6 P. M. KIDCO enrolls more than 3,700 children, and the summer program serves almost 5,000 children at nearly 50 locations.

KIDCO provides varied recreational and leisure activities, including physical fitness, sports, arts and crafts, and provides lessons in values clarification, self-esteem building, listening and caring skills, social skills, friendship, cooperation, free time and creative expression. Most importantly, participants have fun! Participants also join in special events such as the annual Safe Kids Bicycle Event, Bike Rodeos, and the On the Right Track drug-prevention program.

KIDCO programs are usually located in neighborhood schools. Each program is unique to its neighborhood and to its particular partners. These partners may include tribal village councils, the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the Tucson Audubon Society, the University of Arizona, Pima Community College, a cable television corporation, school districts, private schools, malls and other community agencies such as, the YMCA, Girl Scouts, and Campfire Boys and Girls.

City agencies and departments such as Police, Fire, Education and Water have helped in the development of materials and program options. This year, increased funding allowed KIDCO to initiate programs in two apartment complexes, taking the benefits of recreation -- quite literally -- to people’s doorsteps.

2. When was the program created and why?

KIDCO is an adaptation of an existing part-time program that provided recreation activities to latchkey youth in unsupervised situations for Tucson’s youth. It began in 1989.

3. How do you measure the program’s effectiveness?

On Oct. 28, 1998, the Tucson Chief of Police spoke at a Mayor and Council Youth Policy meeting, and stated that KIDCO is one of the best prevention programs a community can have. Youth crime during the summer of 1993 declined by 52 percent from the previous summer. The Police attributed this phenomenal decrease in part to programs like KIDCO. A comparison of 1992 and 1996 Pima County Juvenile Court statistics shows that in at least two important areas, youth crime either decreased or grew at a slower rate than the county’s 12.8 percent population increase. Violent crimes against people rose 9.5 percent, while grand theft and property crimes actually fell 23.7 percent.

Another measure of success is the amount of additional money and interest generated by the program. Because of KIDCO’s success, Tucson’s Mayor and Council increased the fee for each round of golf played in the city by $1 to benefit youth programs, adding another $400,000 to Tucson Parks and Recreation’s Budget. Additional funds have been allocated to reduce KIDCO’s waiting lists, add and evaluate new sites, and raise salaries for staff.

In 1996, the department surveyed KIDCO participants and parents. More than 91 percent of parents planned to send their children back the next year. Significantly, 76 percent of children and 93 percent of parents felt children are safe at KIDCO.

4. How is the program financed?

City of Tucson-funded. In 1992, following reports of drastically increasing crime and delinquency, the Mayor and Council of Tucson pledged to provide enhanced services for children, and in 1993 provided KIDCO with $500,000 in additional funding, which enabled the program to undergo a major expansion of services. Designating Tucson a Achild-friendly community, the City Council continues to identify innovative ways to raise funds to support KIDCO programs.

5. How is the community involved in the program?

Each site has parent enhancement teams, and parents are encouraged to volunteer their talents and time. Many other Tucson agencies and departments throughout the community provide their own programs through KIDCO. Many agencies continue to seek out Tucson Parks and Recreation as a partner for grant proposals. KIDCO also provides opportunities for college students and other citizens to develop important work skills, to get job experience and to earn a salary. Teen volunteers gain valuable skills and awareness of child-development.

6. What are the major lessons learned from the program?

Demand is greater than supply. Waiting lists will grow no matter how many new sites are added.

7. Contact person:

Ron Burton, Program Manager

Tucson Parks and Recreation

900 S. Randolph Way

Tucson, AZ 85716.

Phone (520) 791-4873, Fax (520) 791-4008

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The United States Conference of Mayors

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