To accentuate the City's commitment to the youth in our community, the Mayor and City Council added “Youth Services” to the City Council Public Safety Subcommittee. The committee is now known as Public Safety and Youth Services Subcommittee, which means within public safety departments and throughout other departments in the City, there is an increased effort for community outreach and promotion of existing programs. "CR Youth" is essentially about Education, Employment and Engagement.
During the 2015-2016 school year, the students explored several projects including creating connections between neighborhoods, Cedar Rapids high schools, local government and youth. The students also reviewed the City’s Comprehensive Plan, EnvisionCR, and provided feedback on the StrengthenCR and InvestCR elements of the plan.
A separate group of students worked on the Humans of Cedar Rapids project. This project aims to provide a sense of community by sharing the stories of local residents. The students conducted interviews and took pictures of members of the community. They then painted portraits of eight interviewees onto wooden doors which are currently on display at Greene Square. One of the interviewees for the project is Lieutenant Tobey Harrison from the Cedar Rapids Police Department.
The City of Cedar Rapids and IowaWORKS have come together to develop Creating Futures, a program to connect employers with available workforce, and educate youth and at risk populations about employment opportunities in Cedar Rapids.
A business survey conducted by the City of Cedar Rapids this year identified specific workforce challenges; One-third of Cedar Rapids businesses sampled report worker retention challenges and almost half of Cedar Rapids companies (45%) sampled report difficulty attracting workers. An ISU CIRAS survey of executive leadership in Iowa manufacturing in March 2016 validates fact that shortage of hourly labor and cost of labor are top concerns for small and medium-sized enterprises.
Many small businesses have chronic workforce needs, especially shortage of entry level employees. This program aims to help both young adults find meaningful work, and local businesses find quality employees. Creating Futures anticipates seeing cases where young employees are initially hired for low-skilled positions through the program, but are able to train and move up to middle and higher-skilled positions where companies are struggling find enough employees.
Fire Safety Education - The Fire Department conducts five visits per year to third-graders in 28 local elementary schools, educating children on how to develop a home fire escape plan and prevent fires in their homes. The Public Education program also instructs kindergarten students on the importance of smoke alarms and the importance of not playing with matches and lighters.
Police Explorer Program - There are 14 members of Police Explorer Post #107, including 7 females and 7 males with various backgrounds, but a common interest in developing responsibility and leadership qualities. Explorers meet twice monthly and topics include arrest and search procedures, accident investigation, bomb threat response, burglary in progress protocols, crime scene search, hostage and crisis negotiation, domestic abuse investigation, shooting scenarios, first aid, traffic stop procedures, white collar crime investigation, firearms practice, and vehicle maneuvering procedures.
Heroes Safety Camp - The Cedar Rapids Fire Department and Cedar Rapids Police Department are co-sponsoring a Heroes' Safety Camp for children. The camp uses fun hands-on activities and games to teach children valuable life safety education. Topics will include 911 emergencies, bicycle safety, first aid, poison safety, stranger danger, vehicle safety, water safety, and weather safety. Children will visit the City's Joint Communications Center, tour a fire station, and meet a bike patrol officer.
Fire & Life Safety Summer Camp - the Cedar Rapids Fire Department is hosting a one-week Fire & Life Safety Summer Camp for children consisting of safety education and fun, hands-on activities. The educational topics include home fire escape planning, smoke alarm education, how to recognize and handle 911 emergencies, burn prevention, bicycle helmet safety, stranger danger, and first aid. Activities include spraying a fire hose, fire truck rides, meeting Tillie - the arson dog, a trip to the 911 dispatch center, and much more.
Cedar Rapids Police Youth Academy - The Cedar Rapids Police Department holds four Youth Academies in the summer. Those in attendance are given a tour of the Police Station and learned about the Honor Guard, Explosive Ordinance Devices (Bombs) team, Tasers, Bike Patrol, Narcotics Division, K-9 Unit, Crime Prevention, Special Response Team, Investigations and more.