Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $494,674)
Through collaboration between Youth Emergency Services, Inc.—which has 25 years of experience in offering evidence-based mentoring programming—and juvenile justice agencies, the program will serve 255 youth in rural Northeast Wyoming who are involved in the juvenile justice system. The program will prioritize youth who are substance/opioid users, victims of abuse/neglect, and failing academically and have a low commitment to school; runaway and homeless youth; and youth who have a history of suicide ideation/attempts. These are historically underserved youth with extensive trauma.
The purpose of the initiative is to improve academic performance and reduce school dropout rates and negative outcomes such as juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, and victimization for youth involved in the juvenile justice system. This will be accomplished by: (a) providing quality mentoring services tailored to the needs of Wyoming at-risk youth, and (b) establishing meaningful partnerships with youth and families, and juvenile justice agencies.
Primary activities will address two of OJJDP’s three priorities: “Serve children at home, with their families, in their communities” will be met by offering mentoring services to youth in partnership with their families and in their community. “Open up opportunities for system-involved youth” will be met by offering positive adult/peer mentors to system-involved youth.
To fulfill the purpose and to meet the set outcomes, the collaborative will provide community-based and school-based mentoring models: one-on-one matches with an adult mentor and peer mentoring. Mentoring models will embrace positive youth development, “voice and choice” approaches, and active and meaningful partnerships with families. The proposed project will meet the following outcomes: (1) 75 percent of youth maintaining or improving in at least two outcome areas (staying drug free, educational improvement, grades, scholastic competency, risk behaviors, truancy, juvenile justice, victimization, parental trust); (2) provide a comprehensive array of supports to 255 mentors to maximize their success; (3) provide evidence-based specialized training to 180 mentors; (4) sustain 80 percent of matches for at least one year; (5) expand family-based activities to 255 families; and (6) prevent 85 percent of youth in mentoring from committing a subsequent offense or re-entering the juvenile justice system.