Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $997,351)
Center for Family Services (CFS) proposes to expand its Cure4Camden Program, a street-based and hospital-based violence intervention program for individuals highly involved in violence, by implementing a youth prevention and intervention component for Camden City, NJ youth between the ages of 10 – 17 years who have, have had, or are at-risk for violence and/or gang involvement. CFS will address the risk factors that push youth toward gun violence and gang involvement. Youth in Camden, NJ, one of the poorest cities in the nation, are impacted by gun violence, domestic violence, drug crime, and formal and informal gang violence that underlie so much of the violence and crime in the city. Residing in areas affected by endemic poverty, community violence, gang activity, and violent crime, negatively contribute to a measure of trauma known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). ACEs have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration, and lifelong health and opportunity.
The overarching goal of Cure4Camden’s Early Intervention Services is to prevent and reduce youth violence, including gang violence by offering a trauma-informed community street-base violence prevention and intervention approach that addresses the public health issue of violence. The program provides youth with effective life and social skills, self-efficacy, and problem-solving skills that foster resiliency to overcome risk factors that increase the likelihood of engaging in gun violence or entering or staying in a gang and reducing involvement in the legal system.
Cure4Camden’s Early Intervention Services works collaboratively with community organizations including law enforcement, Office of the Mayor, and the School District, and offers workshops to enhance the community’s response to youth violence. The program is staffed with a team of credible messengers from the community. Outreach Workers engage and build trust with youth by connecting with youth on the streets, in schools, or community centers. Youth enrolled in the program receive one-on-one supportive counseling and case management including gang prevention life skills activities. Experiential youth empowerment activities are offered to expose youth to new experiences. Mediations are conducted to provide alternatives to dealing with potentially violent conflicts. Youth completing the program or youth who are considered credible can receive training in peer mediation and use their skills by facilitating mediations with Cure4Camden Staff. Youth are given a platform to give voice to the program by becoming members of the Steering Committee.