In the last week, Rep. Chris Latvala has filed about $3.1 million in state appropriation requests for programs assisting at-risk kids and individuals struggling with substance abuse and involved in the criminal justice system.
In his largest request within the wave of bills, Latvala requested $2 million to renovate the Police Athletic League of St. Petersburg in hopes of providing more after school space for at-risk kids.
The non-profit works with the St. Petersburg Police Department, University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg campus and St. Petersburg College to provide a safe place for children to go when they are not in school. While at the center, kids receive a healthy snack and dinner, homework help, literacy and math tutoring, sports and recreation, mentoring and more.
Last year, the Legislature approved $300,000 for the non-profit, a pittance compared to the $2 million requested this year.
The funds would be used to renovate the second floor of the building in order to increase usable square footage. The goal, according to the request, is to provide more at-risk children in the community literacy and math tutoring through after school and summer programs.
Latvala is also requesting $500,000 in non-recurring funds for Hillsborough County’s Ready4Work program.
The program receives $1 million on a recurring basis from the state, and last year, the Legislature approved an additional $400,000 in non-recurring funds. This year, Latvala is hoping for an additional $500,000.
The program works to reduce incarceration costs and Florida’s prison population, according to the request. The goal: to generate returns on investment not only by reducing recidivism, but also by reducing crime through opportunities and resources.
The additional funds in the request would be used to provide a pre-release needs assessment, a plan-of-care and referrals for incarcerated participants. Ready4WorkHillsborough would primarily provide post-release services including transitional housing, case management, career development and life skills training, family reunification/support and job placement assistance.
Latvala is also requesting $463,000 for integrated mental health and substance use disorder treatment for offenders.
The money would go to the Davis-Bradley Mental Health Overlay project, which integrates mental health services in existing community-based substance use disorder treatment programming offered by WestCare at its Davis-Bradley Community Involvement Center.
According to the request, at least 80% of participants exhibit improved psychiatric symptoms and functioning, and 85% of participants do not relapse and remain drug-free during treatment.
Of the funding requested, about $419,600 would be used for salaries and benefits for administrators and support staff, including a psychiatric ARNP, and $43,380 would be used for medication and resources.
Last year, only $150,000 was appropriated from the state for this project. And, with tighter purse strings in this upcoming Session, it may be more difficult to get that boost in funding.
Latvala put in another appropriations request focused on youth education, asking for $200,000 for the Boys State and Girls State Program at Florida State University.
The funding would provide room and board for 830 rising seniors statewide to attend a summer leadership and government program. At the program, the students participate in a model state, complete with governing bodies and elected public officials.
Last year, the program received $100,000 in non-recurring funding from the state.