Monterey County Office of Education receives $2.8 Million to address youth violence in Salinas

Event on October 2 to unveil approach

SALINAS, Calif. - A day after the ‘Lost Youth' study by the Violence Policy Center on homicide rates for California's youth was released for in 2012, the Monterey County Office of Education on Wednesday announced receipt of $2.8 million in federal grants for a comprehensive approach to address youth violence in Salinas.

The study found that Monterey County led all counties statewide in youth violence deaths. The homicide victimization rate for youth ages 10 to 24 in California was 8.06 per 100,000. The analysis was based on data from California Department of Justice.

"The Monterey County Office of Education, school districts, and community partners are striving to overcome the pervasive problem of youth violence," says Dr. Nancy Kotowski, Monterey County Superintendent of Schools. "This requires getting to the root of the problem with a proven and coherent approach to prevention, intervention and community engagement."

Central Coast congressman, Representative Sam Farr weighed in, "Schools are on the front lines in preventing youth violence in our community. With these funds, MCOE can expand its work to provide more kids and their families with the support needed to avoid the trap of youth violence and show them the path towards a more positive future."

The Monterey County Office of Education has been providing training on Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports for three years, which positioned the office to become a recipient of this federal funding. PBIS is an evidence-based, multi-tiered behavioral frame work for improving behavioral outcomes and learning conditions for students. The funding will expand the program.

The goals are to connect children, youth and families to appropriate services and supports, and to improve conditions for learning and behavioral outcomes for school-aged youth. Additionally, grant funding will address better understanding and response to the underlying factors and reasons why youth act out and engage in violent behaviors such as mental health and trauma.

The $2.8 million represents three different grants:

* $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education's School Climate Transformation and runs for five years. This grant will build the capacity of all participating schools and districts to initiate and sustain the implementation of all three tiers of PBIS in order to decrease incidences of challenging youth behavior and violence.

* $100,000 grant from the National Forum to Prevent Youth Violence and runs for two years. This grant will support Salinas' schools in implementing PBIS, including efforts to reduce suspensions and expulsions, creating a positive school climate, and providing behavior support services to all students.

* $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Mental Health Services which runs for two years and will offer a Youth Mental Health First Aid Program to train youth-serving adults to identify and address the mental health problems and issues of Salinas' students aged 12 to 18.

Leaders will preview their approach to school-based violence prevention programs in Salinas on Thursday, October 2, 11 a.m. They'll preview the integrative approach to youth violence in Salinas at the Monterey County Office of Education.

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