In the wake of the Newtown, Conn. tragedy, recent talks among city officials from Temecula and Murrieta point toward the formation of a Youth, Family and Health Regional Task Force.
According to a news release issued by the Twin Cities, a meeting took place this week that was attended by Murrieta Mayor Rick Gibbs, Temecula Mayor Mike Naggar, Murrieta Councilman Harry Ramos, Murrieta Police Capt. Sean Hadden, Temecula police Chief Andre O’Harra, Temecula Interim City Manager Aaron Adams and representatives from Safe Alternatives for Everyone—S.A.F.E.—a Temecula-based nonprofit organization that provides services to families who have experienced or are at risk of abuse and violence.
Together, they discussed ways they could help through creating awareness and providing resources to local youth, parents and families trying to cope with challenges being faced in many households, the news release stated.
Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Naggar of Temecula expressed his desire to form a task force of community leaders and experts, similar to the region’s Medical Needs Task Force and Autism Task Force.
"I see a real need to assemble community leaders, identify problems, discuss solutions and implement them area wide," Naggar said. "A Task Force of leaders and experts can reach out to the community in a public forum and discuss issues that are prevalent today with young people and families. We need to provide resources for our community to be able to deal with modern day influences such as social media, virtual gaming, mental health, and drugs and alcohol to name a few."
Murrieta Mayor Rick Gibbs agreed, and added his thoughts.
"We live in a new world where there are a number of threats in our environment," Gibbs said. "Our children are our most precious resource so it is incumbent on elected leaders and school leadership to ensure that our families and children are provided the education, tools and resources that will keep them safe."
Leadership from the Twin Cities' and S.A.F.E. are expected to reconvene in early 2013. Their hope is to join forces with other cities, local school districts and law enforcement in the region to discuss a range of issues that affect youth and families with a goal to enhance available resources.
"If we can assist families through education, awareness and resources, and they are consequently better able to grasp and counter adverse challenges that they may face, then we’ve succeeded," Naggar said.
The anticipated makeup of the Youth, Family and Health Regional Task Force would include two council members from each Murrieta, Temecula, Wildomar, Lake Elsinore, Canyon Lake, Menifee, Perris and Hemet and a representative from the school districts within each city, according to the news release.
Riverside County supervisors Jeff Stone and Kevin Jeffries, whose supervisorial districts falls within these areas, would also be encouraged to take part.