Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $500,000)
BCFS Health and Human Services (BCFS HHS) propose to continue Youth Averted from Delinquency (YAD), a mentoring program for juvenile justice system-engaged youth, ages 10-17, in Kerr County, Texas. Kerr County is a historically underserved, rural community with a relatively large Hispanic population and high juvenile incarceration rates. BCFS HHS YAD will serve 90 youths across three years. If BCFS HHS does not provide this program, youth in Kerr County will have no diversion programming available to them, increasing detention rates, child trauma, future crime, and financial burden on the state. BCFS HHS YAD will improve outcomes for juvenile justice-engaged youth through mentoring services. The theory of change is that youth recidivism and victimization will decrease if youth a) trust in safe people, b) are supported by an engaged and empowered family, and c) can take control of their body’s response to trauma and make informed choices. The program’s objectives are: 1) Build family-based resilience; 2) Connect youth with a network of safe adults; and 3) Help youth reduce trauma-related behaviors. To achieve these objectives, BCFS HHS YAD will provide group mentoring using evidence-based relational interventions, evidence-based parenting education, the creation of Action Plans for and with each family, and family-focused events engaging law enforcement. Credible messenger mentors (volunteers) serve as paraprofessionals, receiving intensive training and supervision. All personnel and mentors in the program use evidence-based relational interventions. All families participate in evidence-based parenting education, which coincides with mentor activities. Additionally, families are supported with an Action Plan reinforced by the mentor. BCFS HHS YAD provides family-focused events that engage law enforcement to participate. Youth remain in the program until the end of their probation period. Family resilience, social connection, and the reduction of trauma-related behaviors are measured using an array of valid and reliable assessments completed at intake and again at closure. The program measures recidivism, victimization, and school challenges via routine interviews with the Probation Officer, family members, and school staff. These interviews continue for one year following the youth’s exit from the program. Anticipated outcomes include increased social support and prosocial behaviors, reduced substance use, increased trust in law enforcement, mental health and emotional regulation, improved family functioning and youth resilience, and reduced recidivism and victimization.
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