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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release January 12, 2000



Washington, D.C. -- This morning Vice President Al Gore reaffirmed his commitment to our children's safety by announcing that the Administration's Fiscal Year 2001 budget will vastly expand the nation's investment in the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative. The increase of more than $100 million in the initiative will invest a total of $247 million in FY 2001 to help communities throughout the country promote a coordinated, comprehensive response to school safety.

"In the aftermath of tragic violence in our schools, there can be no doubt that this investment in our children's safety is essential," Vice President Gore said. "It must be this nation's first priority to protect our children, and President Clinton and I will fight for bold action to ensure they have safe communities in which they can live and learn. Our children should be looking to the future with hope, not looking over their shoulders with fear."

Following the White House Conference on School Safety in 1998, the Administration launched the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative to help communities develop and implement community-wide responses to school and youth violence. The program empowers parents, principals, police, health and mental health care providers, and others in the community to collaborate on local solutions to the problem of youth violence. In September 1999, the President announced over $100 million in Safe Schools/Healthy Student grants for 54 school districts. With the expansion of this initiative, approximately 40 additional communities will be awarded grants in FY 2001 to provide safer learning environments for youth and help them avoid drugs, violence, and other destructive behaviors.

The Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative is a joint effort of the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Labor that provides each community funding for three years to link services and activities into a comprehensive, community-wide approach to violence prevention and healthy child development. Research suggests that such strategies are an effective way to promote healthy childhood development and address the problems of school violence and drug abuse.

Vice President Gore lauded the groundbreaking partnership among the federal agencies as an example of how communities can work together to protect our children.

"We cannot expect parents, schools, law enforcement or government alone to prevent youth violence, but when all of us work together we can build strong, caring, connected communities that offer all of our young people the safe and healthy environments they need to thrive," said Gore.

To be considered for Safe Schools/Healthy Students funding, communities must be working in partnership at the local level. The comprehensive safe school plans must be the product of a formal partnership between the school district, law enforcement and the local mental health authority, created in collaboration with family members, students, juvenile justice officials and relevant community-based organizations. Effective partnerships might also include the business community. To be considered comprehensive, safe school plans must address at least the following six elements: (1) a safe school environment, (2) prevention and early intervention programs that address violence, alcohol and other drugs, (3) school and community mental health preventative and treatment intervention services, (4) early childhood psycho-social and emotional development programs, (5) educational reform, and (6) safe school policies. Activities that may be funded as part of this initiative include, truancy prevention, after school activities, teen courts, alternative education, purchasing security equipment and services, mentoring, out-of-school youth programs such as conflict resolution, life skills, school-based anti-drug curricula, career development, nurse home visitation, family strengthening and staff professional development.