The City of Irvine, CA—now a three-time 100 Best winner—and its partners work diligently to provide youth a community that is well rounded and safe, opportunities for growth and employment and avenues for academic achievement. For community collaboratives to thrive, partnerships are built upon a strong foundation of trust, shared vision of success, and the ability to share and leverage resources. The community’s investment and sustained commitment in responding to the needs of its youth through evidence-based practices has prevented the emergence of typical problems inherent in cities with populations over 200,000.
In May 2008, the Irvine City Council approved a community-developed Strategic Plan for Children, Youth and Families addressing citywide programmatic goals to ensure youth thrive emotionally, physically, academically and socially. The Strategic Plan guides the allocation of funds in an effective, focused and coordinated manner filling gaps in service to meet the needs of youth in Irvine. In the last year, the Strategic Plan has helped provide youth a voice in the community through the Youth Action Team (YAT) program. YAT members initiate, coordinate and implement a wide spectrum of recreational, educational, employment, health and community service activities. Within the last year, YAT had over 2,400 student representatives participating in programs and services and accumulated over 26,000 hours of youth volunteer service.
Irvine Child Care Committee , established in 1980, comprised of early childhood educators, parents, educational institutions and the School Readiness Program work to ensure Irvine’s youngest residents have access to quality educational programs promoting early learning, and the foundation for academic success. National research shows children who attend high quality preschool programs are less likely to be held back a grade and are more likely to graduate from high school. Irvine Child Care Project, a Joint Powers Agreement between the city and school district, established in 1984, provides affordable before and after-school child care. Nonprofit organizations provide care to 2,000 children annually at all 22 elementary school sites. Both the city and the school district dedicate resources to support this collaborative effort.
Irvine Children’s Health Program (I-CHP) created in 2008 is designed to cost-effectively reach out to and assist income-eligible families in accessing affordable, quality healthcare for their children. I-CHP distributes culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach materials, coordinates community partnerships, and has enrolled 472 children in health insurance programs. Irvine’s School Readiness Program offers no-cost health services to Irvine children, including developmental and insurance screenings and short-term counseling. Through this program, 860 youth received health screenings and nearly 300 families received consultations, including home visits, during the last year.
The city and community partners passionately provide opportunities for youth to give back through service learning, enhancing volunteerism and community service experiences. The city’s focus is to promote community service as a meaningful approach to community engagement, youth development and learning. In FY08-09, youth and adults volunteered over 72,000 hours assisting with city programs such as: peer-to-peer education to reduce drug and alcohol use, intergenerational activities with seniors and fundraising through community activities.