November 16, 1990
By Yolanda Reynolds
A recent report, prepared for Santa Clara County Board Supervisor Zoe Lofgren regarding the county’s future, found that, among other things, the county will have increasing numbers of children living in poverty.
The study also predicts that half of all youngsters will spend part of their time in single parents households, which usually means that theyand their parent, usually the mother, will be very poor. Lt also means that child care will be in even more demand for the working mother.
The need for childcare programs has become critical in our society. There is also a need for after school programs including proper supervision and activities for youth of the ages 12 to 18. The County has resources to provide child care for only 6,700 children; there is actually a need for 18,500 spaces. Neither the County not the City have many other programs in place for the city’s youth.
Lack of adult supervision and poverty for many youth is considered to be a major source of crime, vandalism, and substance abuse and school dropouts for many affected youth.
According to a recent Los Angeles Times article, the Los Angeles County Sheriff Sherman Block says that. “Law enforcement can not break the cycle (of drug abuse and crime), only social program can break it.”
In that same article it stated that the experience of the LA. law enforcement community has led them to believe that “crackdowns brought only temporary relief” and that they (law enforcement) “need additional help from social agencies – community based job training programs, educational tutoring. parenting, athletics and gang and drug abuse programs.”
In Santa Clara County, as across the state, ﬁnancial support for community oriented social programs has been greatly reduced.
Although the lack of social programs in Santa Clara County is great and in need of immediate attention, the situation is not entirely bleak. San Jose is particularly fortunate to have a number of job training programs. In fact, the San Jose based Center for Employment Training (CET) was recently identified by the Rockefeller Foundation as the best and most successful educational/training program in the nation. CET will be used as a role model for others wishing to establish or improve training programs in the United States and the world.
Also in San Jose, some neighborhoods have united in an attempt to inﬂuence policy makers and decision makers to understand the needs of their communities. On such group is People Acting in Community Together (PACT), who recently held a number of meetings with City Council candidates. At those meetings, they challenged and questioned the City’s priorities. It was their feeling that the City had forgotten about its residents in its quest to address the vandalism, gang activity, graffiti and unkempt parks, with “speciﬁc commitments to develop and implement a comprehensive plan to resolve the deterioration of safety,” among other concerns identified by that group.
Mike Cavera a spokesperson for Pact says, “…if you want a sense of community, you’ve got to have a livable neighborhood.” His downtown neighborhood feels that it has been neglected by City Hall. Cavera says that the city “only responds when people get together and demand its attention.” The neighborhood has vowed to follow up on the promises made to them prior to the election by the council candidates. A meeting is scheduled in March, with Council elect David Pandori, for a progress report in March.
Supervisor Lofgren plans to convene representatives from churches, government, business and neighborhoods in a series of discussions as a means for ﬁnding solutions to the increasing social needs of children and families residing in the Santa Clara County.
The solutions to be identiﬁed will be of great importance, not only to those needing help but also to the community at large. Bringing together and coordinating resources and coordinating resources that are already at work, adding more and adding additional resources as needed providing the necessary funding to permit them to operate, will help to avert the certain disaster to our society that awaits inaction.