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CDC advisory council prepares survey of youth organizations

Megan Pauly/Delaware Public Media
Members of the CDC advisory council discuss next steps Tuesday afternoon.

Wilmington’s CDC report advisory council met again Tuesday afternoon to discuss how to start gathering data about programs helping prevent and stop gun violence in the state’s largest city.

A major next step for the council is creating –and distributing – a survey to non-profit organizations that they’d like to review further, and compare to nationally accredited programs.

However, they’ve yet to settle on how to start.  Options include focusing on programs serving hot spots in Wilmington - or casting a wide net and then analyzing the information received for trends and best practices.

Dr. Iman Sharif is a Pediatrician with Nemours, and she says her team can help put together the surveys once that decision is made.

“I think we’re going to help the group by just technically creating the survey that can be emailed out to the organizations we want to learn a little bit more about, and basically the survey will ask about what they’re doing, what issues they’re facing and what they need in order for it to be more successful in serving the population,” Sharif said.

In April, the council broke into three different sub-committees: one tackling universal services, or services available to all youth living in designated high-risk neighborhoods.

Another is tasked with analyzing services for high-risk youth at the earliest possible indication of a detectable problem, and the third is working to establish effective communication efforts with the community.


Ashley Biden, Executive Director for the Delaware Center for Justice, is heading up the indicated services sub-committee, and says the she wants the survey to review the mission, purpose, goals/objectives, outcomes and activities conducted by the organizations to achieve outcomes relating to universal and target interventions for violence reduction among elementary, middle and high-school aged youth.

The goal is to analyze for effectiveness and identify gaps in services, while building capacity for programs.

Biden also cautioned that just because a program is evidence-based doesn’t mean it’s working in the community.

“We should still get the data and do investigating to find out,” Biden said. “It can be done by the wrong people or organization in the wrong setting.”

Dr. Marlene Saunders is the Executive Director of Delaware’s National Association of Social Workers, and is heading up the universal committee. The group has gathered a list of programs funded by the state targeting in the areas of prevention and behavioral health services: now the council as a whole must come up with the metrics and database used to measure programs equally.

Part of the challenge is identifying all organizations that can potentially be helpful. Christina Cultural Arts Center CEO Raye Jones Avery says many organizations may be addressing violence, but  might not specifically express that in their mission or objectives.

“So we certainly need to take a look at mission-stated violence prevention strategies, but also those informal activities and efforts that are going on," Avery said.

The group plans to have a survey ready for review in the next two to three weeks.


One of the three sub-groups was charged with creating a communications strategy to engage the different target populations of kids 4-18, along with other stakeholders.

City Councilwoman Hanifa Shabazz presented the group’s findings Tuesday about the idea for an app that youth could use to self-report when they think they might be in any sort of danger.


“They might say, oh I’m suffering from this I might need to do this, or I’m experiencing this, I feel this way. Then that would direct them to an agency or organization that could possibly get them some support and help. We have to use all kinds of tools now to communicate with our children. They’re communicating through phones and applications, so we might as well use what they use.”

Delaware’s DHHS Secretary Rita Landgraff says data has shown that kids as young as third graders report feeling disengaged, and she thinks such an app could be effective for kids in connecting with them.

Council co-chair Dr. Henry Smith proposed that going forward, the council will meet on the second Tuesday of every month.


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