Even though a community survey released in April showed that concerns over gangs and youth violence have dropped to an all-time low, with only 14 percent of the 407 respondents ranking it as a high priority while 55 percent didn’t give it much thought at all, the Daily Press believes there is no reason to cut back on the funding City Hall dedicates to our community’s kids.

Santa Monica has been fortunate over the past two years. The level of gang violence has dropped. That, combined with greater focus on finances locally and at the state level and on development and traffic, has shifted attention away from the issue. But all it will take is for one of our kids to get killed, and this community will once again understand the importance of prevention and protection.

To be successful, there needs to be a coordinated effort, particularly when there are so many other interests competing for our tax dollars. That is why City Hall has created the Youth Resource Team, commissioned by the City Council in September of 2010 to establish the most effective support system for youth and their families. Many of the city’s nonprofits specializing in that area are involved. We hope and ultimately demand they develop a plan that makes the best use of tax payer dollars, even if it means that some of the agencies have to trim duplicate services, and in turn trim staff. We’re not advocating City Hall cut funding for after-school programs, sports leagues, etc. We’re saying be more efficient. Do away with programs that are ineffective or redundant, and create new programs that address areas of need.

With nearly 30 stakeholders at the table, it’s not going to be easy coming to a consensus. But it needs to happen. The agencies involved need to remember that it’s the kids who come first. We’ll be interested to see if a plan is presented to the council this summer, or if competing interests derail the effort or water it down.

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