Parks After Dark (PAD) is a Los Angeles County (County) program that began in 2010 as the prevention strategy of the County's Gang Violence Reduction Initiative, and evolved into a key County strategy to promote health, safety, equity, and community well-being that has been adopted into the strategic plans of several County departments and initiatives. Led by the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), PAD is a collaboration of multiple County departments as well as community agencies, including the Sheriff's Department (LASD), Department of Public Health (DPH), and Probation Department, with strategic support from the Chief Executive Office (CEO) and Office of Child Protection (OCP). The Probation Department became a key partner in 2016, providing the majority of the funding to expand PAD throughout the County. The Department saw PAD as an opportunity to invest in community based strategies that provide access to free recreation and resources for youth and adults, helping to build resilient communities and prevent youth from becoming involved in the criminal justice system. PAD keeps parks open late during summer weekend evenings at parks in unincorporated communities of Los Angeles County, and offers a variety of free activities for people of all ages. PAD includes recreational activities (e.g. sports clinics, exercise classes, walking clubs), entertainment (e.g. concerts, movies, talent shows), arts and educational programs (e.g. arts and crafts, computer classes, cultural programs), teen clubs and activities, and health and social service resource fairs. Deputy Sheriffs patrol the parks to ensure safety during PAD and participate in activities with community members. While PAD began as a summer strategy, there is significant interest and evidence to support expanding this model into a strategy that utilizes parks year-round to provide prevention and intervention services to high need communities. Proponents see the potential of PAD to transform park space into community centers and a hub for services to meet the priorities of various County departments and initiatives. The program started in 2010 in three parks and was subsequently expanded in 2012 to six parks, in 2015 to nine parks, and in 2016 was implemented at 21 parks throughout Los Angeles County. UCLA Center for Health Policy Research (UCLA) has evaluated the process and outcomes of PAD. The evaluation questions are aligned with the following PAD goals: (1) Increase access to quality recreational programming and innovative services at County parks in high need communities; (2) Increase collaboration among different stakeholders to provide innovative services at County parks; (3) Decrease community violence and increased perception of safety; (4) Increase physical activity, and therefore decreased risk of chronic disease; (5) Increase social cohesion and community well-being in the targeted communities; and (6) Cost savings. Data for this evaluation included PAD participant surveys, LASD and Los Angeles Police Department crime data, program implementation data from DPR, service and outcome data from other Los Angeles County Departments, Census data, photos and stories provided by park staff and PAD participants, a youth PhotoVoice project, observations from UCLA site visits, and key informant surveys and interviews. Throughout this report, outcomes and trends for PAD parks are examined according to the year PAD started at each park, as indicated below. Outcomes and trends are analyzed from each park's baseline year, the year before it started PAD, to 2016. In addition, a number of parks with similar characteristics were selected as comparison parks for assessment of PAD impact on crime and assessment of need in PAD communities.
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