If you teach social service and law enforcement personnel how to develop more productive relationships with youth, will the outcomes for youth improve? As a side benefit, will the professionals feel they’re being more effective, and thus be more satisfied on the job? We’ll be finding out in Vermont, where we’ve been hired to conduct three-day intensive cross-sector trainings in Youth Thrive™ in two communities and smaller half-day overview trainings in four more. The goal is to train professionals of all types who interact with young people involved with, or at risk of involvement with, the juvenile justice system. The project, funded by the Vt. Children and Family Council for Prevention Programs and the state Dept. of Children and Families under a grant from OJJDP, is focusing on the communities with the highest rates of school suspensions, school dropouts, youth on probation and youth in detention.
Youth Thrive is a brain science-based youth development training that teach adults how to engage with youth differently — in ways that not only won’t backfire (too often the case now), but that will actually produce better outcomes over both the short and long term. In the two high-focus areas, we will provide the full 18-hour training to professionals across disciplines, including those working in mainstream and alternative schools, law enforcement, and state and private nonprofit social services.
Outside of New Jersey and Florida, Vermont is the first state to use Youth Thrive to build capacity and knowledge in city, county and state systems. The rollout of Youth Thrive there gives us the chance to evaluate both the knowledge that participants gain and — more importantly — the changes they take back to their workplaces. We’ll be following up with the participants after six months to see what they’re doing differently and what impact those changes are ultimately making in their system and personal practice. We’ll also, of course, be tracking selected youth outcomes to see what changed for young people, and at which levels of the system.
Looking for the new frontier of youth development? It’s here. Give us a call and we’ll let you know how we can bring this indispensable training to your community.
The Vermont work is funded in part by OJJDP grant No. 2013-MU-FX-0555.