A warm Welcome Back to all of you as we begin the New Year! Thank you for your ongoing commitment to our youngest residents and for engaging with the Childhood and Youth Committee. In reflecting on this last year, I’d like to highlight some notable and impactful shifts in the committee that will continue to guide the agendas of future meetings.
The committee’s name changed from the Education Committee to the Childhood and Youth Committee to better reflect the role and responsibility of the city. In addition, an even more important change was made to the structure of the meetings themselves. The focus of the committee shifted from providing information about the state of issues that affect children, to focusing on specific measures or initiatives that the City of Houston is taking, or should take, to address those issues. The focus is now on what the City is doing. I felt it was an important step to take and this committee is now more in line with the original purpose of Council Committees, which is to function as a communication tool between Council and the Administration.
There is now a stronger connection with the departments themselves and there is new dialogue regarding their role in being part of solutions. I will tell you that since this subtle change was made, not only has council member participation increased, but action steps taken by the administration, as well as significant funding to support child-centered efforts has increased as well.
Here is a list of the most recent topics that were addressed in our meetings, and you can see that they are now more internally focused on identifying the specific responsibilities of the City:
Dec 9th: The Houston Police Department addressed suggestions that were made by the Mayor’s Task Force on Policing Reforms and discussed the impact of policing reforms on youth.
Oct 14th: The Mayor’s Office of Education shared strategies taken to improve Internet access for children that fall outside of those who are “school-aged”, like early childhood and opportunity youth. Council was also briefed by the City’ Government Relations Director on the city’s advocacy efforts regarding Broadband in the upcoming Legislative Session.
Sept 9th: The Office of Business Opportunity and the Office of Economic Development briefed Council on a new partnership with Microsoft that provided free opportunities to learn digital skills that would help prepare youth for identified high demand jobs.
July 8th: The Director for Information Technology Services and the City’s Chief Recovery Officer for COVID, discussed the changing digital landscape in Houston because of COVID and outlined strategies for how the City is addressing this impact on youth.
Our upcoming meeting in January, which is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, will focus on initiatives the Mayor’s Office of Human Trafficking and Domestic Abuse to protect children. February’s meeting will highlight the Houston Health Department’s efforts to address Health Impacts of COVID on Children and Youth. And the March meeting will feature the Mayor’s Hire Houston Youth Program. Please join us for these and other upcoming meetings, where we will continue to engage city departments in meaningful dialog and intentionally consider opportunities to bolster the success of children and youth.
View the Childhood & Youth Committee meeting dates here
The committee meeting will be streamed on HTV or can be watched via this link.
The agenda, presentation, and recordings of the meetings can be found on the Childhood & Youth Website