Manatee commissioners review how they spend $7 million to attack social ills

skennedy@bradenton.comJanuary 21, 2014 

MANATEE — Faced with children who are homeless, troublesome teen pregnancy rates, and erosion of support for youngsters in some families, Manatee County commissioners Tuesday reviewed how effectively money was being spent locally to combat such ills.

About 1,911 school-aged children are homeless; live births to teens jumped from 126 to 142 last year, and only 49 percent of third graders read at grade level, a report provided by the Manatee County Children’s Services Advisory Board said.

The commission, meeting in a workshop session, discussed how an estimated $7,164,965 the county earmarks for childrens’ services may be spent during the next fiscal year.

“There needs to be some kind of holistic approach,” said Commissioner Michael Gallen during a review of programs offered through nonprofit agencies and overseen by county officials and advisory board members.

Some of the commissioners’ suggestions included requiring parenting classes, better funding of pre-kindergarten preparation for poor families, and more coordination with the Manatee County School Board.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

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