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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Aug. 3, 201708:00 AM EST

Mayor reveals reforms to children’s programs

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The proposals must be approved by City Council.
by: David Cawton Staff Writer

The Jacksonville Children’s Commission and Jacksonville Journey soon will no longer operate separately.

Mayor Lenny Curry on Wednesday announced reforms he’s hinted at since releasing his annual budget in July aimed at overhauling the “structural operations” of both entities.

If legislation is approved by City Council, beginning Jan. 1 the combined programs would be called “Kids Hope Alliance: The Jacksonville Partnership for Children, Youth and Families.”

“Today is about an organization being singularly focused on kids that have the highest need,” said Curry at a news conference at Sallye B. Mathis Elementary School in North Jacksonville.

“It’s not going to be easy, but we have to get this right,” he said.

Curry said funding will come from $36 million allocated in his budget for the Jacksonville Journey and the Children’s Commission.

Funding will focus on four areas of need comprising after-school programs, early learning literacy and school readiness initiatives; juvenile justice intervention; out-of-school programing like summer camps; and programs focused on pre-teens and teens.

Structurally, the mayor is scrapping both boards and replacing them with one seven-member board he appoints.

Council’s role will be to confirm or reject his selections.

Fourteen council members attended the news conference and all said they would co-sponsor the legislation.

Absent were President Anna Lopez Brosche and Finance Chair Garrett Dennis, who Curry said had scheduling conflicts. Also missing were council members Greg Anderson and Doyle Carter.

Curry said he believes all four will back his efforts.  

“Government has a role in making sure that at-hope, not at-risk, but at-hope kids do not fall through the cracks,” Curry said.  

The announcement comes days after Curry and Brosche announced a plan to push $1.07 million to expand after-school programs for the Children’s Commission in the coming school year.

Curry said the money was set aside from funds allocated by council members and will not require additional general revenue funds.

“My team asked them to put that money to use for after-school programs that didn’t look like they were going to exist,” said Curry.

The funding could provide after-school supervision for as many as 740 more students, according to Curry.

 

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