MP Ed Fast announced this morning (Friday) $6.3 million in federal funding for a five-year crime prevention project that will help at-risk youth in Abbotsford.
The amount represents the largest crime-prevention funding that the community has ever received, Fast said during the announcement at Abbotsford Community Services (ACS).
The money comes from the federal government’s Youth Gang Prevention Fund and will be used to identify and help youth who have been involved in serious violence, are at risk of joining gangs or are already in gangs.
The program was formally titled Comprehensive Community Action for Gang Reduction in the grant application, but the project’s community coordinator Alison Gutrath said it is now being referred to as the “In It Together” program.
She said the funds are being used for approximately 10 full-time positions that will complement or expand on existing programs from the Youth Resource Centre, the John Howard Society and the South Asian Community Resource Office.
Community partners also include the Abbotsford Police Department and the Abbotsford school district.
Guthrat said one of the new positions includes a teacher who will work within the schools to support administrators, organize community forums and provide parent education.
Other positions include youth workers, case managers and family educators.
Services that will be provided include counselling, outreach to the aboriginal community, recreational programs, support groups and skill development.
Some services will be available in both Punjabi and English.
Police Chief Bob Rich said the ultimate goal is to prevent young people from becoming immersed in the gang lifestyle.
“The challenges to public safety that are generated by gangs and drugs require a continued and concerted effort from police, government, community groups and citizens,” he said.
He said the funding will benefit the lives of young people and the future of the community.
Fast said the funds will provide at-risk youth with the “tools and opportunities they need to steer clear of crime.”