City crime prevention program receives national support (Yale News)

BY MATTHEW STONE


A New Haven crime prevention and youth development program has caught the attention of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Selecting from a pool of 14 applicants, the NCCD chose New Haven as one of three cities to participate in its Social Innovation Fund project, Mayor Toni Harp announced last Thursday. The project is backed by the White House, which directed $800,000 to the NCCD in October 2014. The NCCD is in turn using this money to provide technical support to efforts supporting juvenile justice, child welfare and youth development in the three selected cities.

New Haven’s program, Youth Stat, met the NCCD’s criteria of demonstrating a degree of success in reforming criminal justice, juvenile justice or child welfare in a location facing high rates of racial and ethnic disparities in these systems. The program will receive up to two years of technical assistance from the NCCD as well as consideration for its Pay For Success program, which would provide additional funding from public, private and non-profit sources who commit to the program.

The program hits the “sweet spot” in addressing cities’ needs for juvenile justice and child-welfare oriented intervention in environments facing severe racial disparities, said Kathy Park, president of the NCCD.

An innovative and data-driven approach to analyzing trends in youth development, Youth Stat was launched in April 2014 to establish a support system for at-risk youth in New Haven’s most troubled school districts. The program combines the efforts of the Mayor’s office, the New Haven School District and several other New Haven social programs and youth services.

“Youth Stat is a way to collaborate, to bring the leaders of New Haven together […] in order to bring an individual success plan to help people that we have identified as at-risk — and the most at-risk,” said New Haven’s Youth Services Director Jason Bartlett, adding that support from NCCD will help Youth Stat continue its goal of helping at-risk youth.

With parental consent and following the appropriate regulations, Youth Stat uses the attendance, grade and disciplinary records of students to identify at-risk students and to analyze the changes in the numbers of at-risk students in a given region. Once identified, these youth receive social support from Youth Stat-affiliated programs.

The program provides these at-risk youth with employment opportunities and introduces them to after-school programs. Additionally, Bartlett said, the program provides an individualized support structure, including mental health counseling, academic tutors and other basic needs.

“We think this [will become] the national model,” he said.

Praising its innovative qualities, City Hall spokesman Laurence Gotheer described the program as a “cross-jurisdictional clearing house to help at-risk adolescents.” He added that the declining rates in crime, high school dropout rates, suspensions and expulsions are attributable to Youth Stat.

Youth Stat uses a rigorous jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction evaluation system modeled off the New Haven Police Department’s CompStat program, introduced to the city in 2011 as a way to compare crime rates across neighborhoods.

After working with the NCCD to expand and attempt to qualify for the Pay for Success program, the next step for Youth Stat is to look into other sources of private funding to further support its youth programs, Bartlett said.

The other two programs that were selected by the NCCD are One Summer Plus in Milwaukee and Alternatives to Detention and Placement in San Diego.