The community outreach partnership between the York County Sheriff's Office and York County Youth Development Center (Shelter Unit) began in May 2009. Prior to that, YDC conducted community service outings independently. With the partnship between both agencies, the program was able to expand it's impact on the youth and on the community.
Through this initiative, YDC Shelter residents are taken from the building into the community to engage in community service, educational events, networking, and recreational events. Most of the outings concentrate on community service including graffiti removal, litter pickup/street sweeping, serving food at the Rescue Mission, and assisting with special projects and community events.
In 2014 the youth completed 1902 hours of community service which was a 37% increase over the previous year. In addition to these hours, residents accumulated educational and recreational hours both inside and outside the facility which totaled 3223 and 1740 hours, respectively.
What this above statistic fails to show is the impact of the program on the youth involved. Many of the youth in the program have families that are not involved in their lives. The youth generally range from 12 to 18 years of age (with a few exceptions). There have been several youth who have entered YDC care with a plan to move the youth to a long-term facility, but with the efforts of the program, the youth were ultimately sent to either their parents, or a foster home, instead.
Not only does this benefit the youth, but the cost savings of home-based treatment over residential placement facilities can be over $300 per day per youth. Also the program provides the youth with a group to belong to. They need a structure to belong to. This leads them to be at risk for gangs or other unhealthy relationships where they feel they belong. Many of the youth that leave YDC not only remain in contact, but continue to go on outings and be part of the program. The relationships attained between the youth and the deputies/YDC staff have allowed youth to remain in contact with the program, leverage community resources, and find employment.
Currently, the program is funded in a limited capacity. Sheriff's Department and YDC budgets pay for their respective employee salaries and benefits. All funding for supplies, food, and related expenses are done through donations and 'mini-grants' - mainly donations from businesses. Other funding sources for supplies and equipment in the past year have included 222 Anti-Gang Initiative funding, Community Progress Council, and Department of Community and Economic Development funding.
Donations are an important part of the Community Outreach Program. When residents take part in community service projects they are setting a positive example for others around them and are role models for people of all ages. We rely mainly on donations from organizations for items such as paint, brushes, and other supplies. Local businesses also often provide their establishments for residents to use, which is a teaching tool for them to gain experience and learn proper etiquette in social settings.
Interested in learning more or donating to the program? Call (717) 840-7570 for more information.