As year one closes for New Haven’s Youth Stat program, its leaders are looking back at its beginnings and planning ahead for expansion.
Last night, the Board of Alders Youth Services Committee met with representatives of organizations involved in New Haven’s Youth Stat program to review the initiative’s history and hear suggestions about potential areas for growth. The program, which was started last year and received praise from President Barack Obama, seeks to identify and aid disengaged youth in New Haven.
Various educational and community organizations and partner corporations were represented at last night’s meeting, such as New Haven Public Schools, education organization Hallah Edutainment, Veterans Empowering Teens Through Support and Integrated Wellness Group.
“We’re open to other community organizations,” said Jason Bartlett, New Haven’s youth services director, adding that Youth Stat is currently in talks with another corporation to expand the program.
Several present at the meeting spoke about the importance of expansion. When Ward 1 Alder Sarah Eidelson ’12, chair of the Youth Services Committee, asked what the committee could do to help Youth Stat, Hashim Allah, the managing partner for Hallah Edutainment, emphasized the importance of securing adequate funding. Citing the costly nature of their community outreach efforts, he asked that the committee work to increase funding sources.
In response to a question of how much money Youth Stat receives from the city, Bartlett explained that since Youth Stat started after the last budget was passed, the program does not appear as a line item on the budget. He said there is no discretionary funding for Youth Stat, but that the program did receive a federal grant worth $250,000 in kind. He added that the group is currently applying for the Performance Partnership Pilots program, a federal grant that would provide the committee with $750,000.
Youth Stat operates by collecting personal information about youth — such as their academic record and involvement in the juvenile justice system — in order to determine who is at risk.
The amount of information sharing required for so many groups to work together initially proved to be a challenge.
This information cannot be shared without consent from the individual, so until the program developed a consent form, Bartlett said, the various agencies could only share general data rather than specific information about individual youth.
Gemma Joseph Lumpkin, the executive manager of district strategy and coordination for NHPS, laid out the program’s approach to identifying disengaged youth.
“We wanted to address root causes [of youth disengagement],” she said.
Bartlett said the identifiers for disengaged youth include low attendance, disruptive behavior and a poor academic record. To this list, Lumpkin added traumatic events — losing a family member or friend to violence, for example. These indicators, she said, are often less obvious than those listed by Bartlett.
Julie Keen, director for community programs at Integrated Wellness Group, said that part of Integrated Wellness’s focus within Youth Stat has been avoiding “the stigma that’s still attached to mental health in various ways.”
Frank Galli, the coordinator for VETTS, spoke about the work his program is doing for New Haven’s disengaged youth. Veterans are assigned to mentor a youth in the program and are available to their mentees 24/7, he said.
“They’re driving out to neighborhoods at 3 a.m., when [their mentees] aren’t coming home,” Galley said.
Youth Stat is based on the CompStat policing model, which similarly focuses on data sharing between agencies in order to reduce crime.