Binghamton Youth Bureau requesting $10k for new program

By Perry Russom

October 8, 2013 Updated Oct 8, 2013 at 11:58 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Last week, the Binghamton Youth Bureau requested $10,000 from City Council for a new program designed to help keep kids off the streets and focused on being a positive citizen.

The bureau received push back after council members said they needed more information before a vote on whether the funding would be granted.

That has some of the Youth Bureau leaders concerned.

"The benefits of these children, I can't even put into words," said Roseanna Carter, a mother of four in Binghamton.

Two of Carter's children took part in the bureau's six-week summer program at the Lee Barta Community Center on Liberty Street.

Weeks after the program ended, her children still go the center almost everyday.

"It keeps them out of trouble," said Carter. "We all know kids like to keep active and if you don't give them things to do, they'll find things to do."

Colleen Wagner, the bureau's director, said the potential success of this new program can be seen in Carter's children.

"Children can't be what they can't see," said Wagner.

Wagner runs the bureau by herself. It's her job to come up with programs to keep the kids in Binghamton active and out of trouble.

She said finding funding for these programs is a major problem.

"I think that the possibility to reach just a small portion of youth makes it successful and we just can't do it alone," said Wagner. "It has to be a community effort."

Binghamton spends $37,000 a year on the city's youth bureau. Children in the city are committing on average 150 crimes every year, according to police.

Wagner calls cities like Ithaca a "dream." They spend $4 million a year on their youth bureau and averages less than 25 crimes a year committed by children.

Binghamton police said one way to get those crime numbers down is more after-school programming.

"They'll be occupied doing the right thing other than being on the street doing the wrong thing," said Binghamton Police Chief Joseph Zikuski.

Carter said the center is the place where her children go to channel their energy into becoming better people.

"It's very important to take advantage of programs like this because if you don't, these programs will lose funding and hence your children don't have anywhere to channel that energy," said Carter

Wagner said she'll present her program proposal again Wednesday night for City Council with an outline of how the $10,000 would be spent.

She said she plans on using a program called YOUMedia as a stencil for her program.

YOUMedia combines creativity with technology, and steers children away from the streets to focus on a career goal.

Wagner said she plans on seeing what the children in the city want to do -- whether it be creating online videos, a newspaper or magazine -- before making a decision on which route the program will take.