Pictured above: Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho speaks at the Miami-Dade Children’s Court House, where “Together for Children,” a coalition that includes law enforcement, Miami-Dade Schools, nonprofit groups, local politicians, businesses and other stakeholders, announced the compiling of data that would identify 2,000 children that are at-risk of gun violence on Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016. Photo courtesy of The Miami Herald.

More than a dozen entities from government, business, education, law enforcement, judicial and fundraising organizations have joined forces as Together For Children. The coalition came together to align, provide leverage and expand resources and care coordination infrastructure, taking the first step to tackle root causes of youth violence.

Together For Children comprises the Florida Departments of Children and Families, Circuit Eleven; Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Circuit Eleven; Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce; Higher Education Institutions; Juvenile Division of the 11th Judicial Circuit Court; Miami-Dade County; Miami-Dade County Public Defender’s Office; Miami-Dade County Public Schools; Miami-Dade County State Attorney’s Office; Municipal Partners; United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Florida; The Children’s Trust; The Miami Foundation; and United Way of Miami-Dade.

The coalition has identified the following causes of youth violence:

  • Poverty and social distrust
  • Parent and family factors
  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • Poor self- and impulse-control
  • Access to guns
  • Social rejection and gang violence


Dorthy Ruffin holds the scrapbook from her grandson's funeral, which reflected the child’s interests and passions, on April 11, 2016. Her grandson, Marlon Eason 10, was killed by a stray bullet on his porch in Overtown. Photo courtesy of The Miami Herald.

Dorthy Ruffin holds the scrapbook from her grandson’s funeral, which reflected the child’s interests and passions, on April 11, 2016. Her grandson, Marlon Eason 10, was killed by a stray bullet on his porch in Overtown. Photo courtesy of The Miami Herald.

Next, Together For Children will identify the most vulnerable young people in our community, using risk factors associated with youth violence, including:

Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers living in high-risk neighborhoods and in need of high-quality early learning programs. FACT: 1 in 3 young children in Miami-Dade arrive at kindergarten already behind their peers and not prepared to succeed in school.

Elementary school-aged youth with chronic school absenteeism. FACT: In the 2015-2016 school year, approximately 12,000 elementary school students had ten or more absences from schools in targeted neighborhoods.

Middle school-aged youth with risk factors that are commonly associated with serious juvenile offenses, such as: poor school attendance; poor academic performance; and disruptive or aggressive behavior. FACT: In the 2015-16 school year, approximately 2,000 middle school-aged youth in the high-risk zip codes exhibited multiple early warning indicators.

Re-entry youth who previously committed infractions leading to arrest and are vulnerable to youth violence, both as victims and perpetrators. FACT: During the 2015-2016 school year, the “One Stop” center served approximately 60% of repeat youth offenders who were referred by the Juvenile Justice Center School.”

Once vulnerable youth have been identified, they will be referred to an innovative comprehensive care coordination infrastructure with holistic, research-based interventions that will now be expanded to serve more children, such as:

  • QUALITY EARLY CHILDHOOD PROGRAMS: Leverage local funding to draw down additional
    federal dollars to fund more quality programming in Miami’s most needy neighborhoods.
  • TRUANCY PREVENTION PROGRAM: Increase attendance monitoring, parent outreach,
    counseling and referrals to social service agencies and supports for children most at risk.
    Increase the number of youth served with evidence-based interventions such as
    Multidimensional Family Therapy, Functional Family Therapy and Community Action Teams.
    two additional, geographically-appropriate centers to provide resources for previously
    adjudicated youth offenders returning back to school. The centers will expand comprehensive
    assessments and referrals to multi-agency wrap-around services and educational advisement.

An essential component of Together For Children is the community. The coalition will hold three community meetings this month to invite parents and the general public to participate in developing community-driven solutions. The meetings are scheduled as follows:

  • Monday, Sept. 19, at 6 p.m.
    Arcola Lakes Library, 8240 N.W. 7 Ave., Miami, FL 33150.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 6 p.m.
    North Dade Regional Library, 2455 N.W. 183 St., Miami Gardens, FL 33056.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 6 p.m.
    South Dade Regional Library, 10750 S.W. 211 St., Cutler Bay, FL 33189.


Only together, can we create a neighborhood action plan that unites us all and leads to specific, actionable steps to address the root causes of youth violence.


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