Senator Carl L. Marcellino (R-Syosset) today announced that he has secured a $125,000 grant for the Town of Huntington’s Gang Prevention Task Force Community and Schools Together (CAST) gang prevention program.
CAST is designed specifically to help Huntington youth resist gang recruiters. Huntington Youth Bureau agencies working with the Huntington and South Huntington school districts will target at-risk students, grades 5 – 9, providing them and their families with one-on-one services including counseling, advocacy, resource referrals, parenting workshops, career and education counseling, tutoring and homework.
"As an educator for 20 years in the City of New York I know that programs work to prevent and stop youth gang violence. Investing in prevention is the key to success. We need to have programs in place that save at risk children before it is too late. We must show them that there is an alternative to the gang lifestyle and that we will be there to help them succeed," said Senator Marcellino.
"Once a youngster joins a gang, it’s tough to undo," said Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone. "It makes a lot more sense and in the end is more cost effective to work with at-risk children and their families before they get lured into the gang lifestyle."
Supervisor Petrone praised Senator Marcellino for recognizing the importance of prevention in the struggle against gang infiltration in local neighborhoods.
Senator Marcellino said he and Assemblyman Conte have been working with the Supervisor and Councilman Mark Capodanno (R-Centerport). "The time to confront gangs on Long Island is now while the advantage is still ours," Senator Marcellino said. "Assemblyman Conte and I told the Gang Prevention Task Force that CAST has our full attention and support."
Represented on the Task Force are the Town, law enforcement officials, school district officials, community and faith-based leaders, non-profit agencies and community members. The Task Force report issued today noted a discernable reduction in crime in Huntington Station over the past twelve months as evidence of stepped up police enforcement, increased awareness in schools and allocation of resources by the Huntington Youth Bureau. While it acknowledged the impact of stricter law enforcement, the report also warned that without comprehensive intervention to thwart gang recruitment in elementary and middle school, the positive trend in crime statistics could again reverse itself.
Assemblyman James Conte (R-Huntington Station) who also represent Huntington and Huntington Station in the State Legislature indicated his strong support for the CAST program as well. Combined, the town, county and state support will fully fund CAST’s first-year of operation.