YouthZone assessment model goes national
January 28, 2014
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Debbie Wilde can't remember being so excited about ringing in a new year.
Her enthusiasm stems not only from the recent release of her new book, "The Sustainable Nonprofit — 10 Strategies to Grow a Successful and Exceptional Organization," but also the launch last week of a new nationwide program she helped to create, called Insight to Impact Inc.
The program focuses on helping a growing population of young people who have become disconnected from their families, schools and communities.
Executive director of the nonprofit YouthZone program for more than 30 years, Wilde has a wealth of experience in dealing with at-risk youth from Aspen to Glenwood Springs and helping them become responsible, contributing members of their families and society.
“The results from using the system we developed were so profound that the board and staff of YouthZone knew the way to be true to our mission for young people was to share what we had created.”
YouthZone has always known it was making a positive impact on the kids, but decided to get serious about determining if, in fact, the work being done was resulting in any measurable change for youth.
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"We understood the kids, but were we getting anything done?" Wilde said. "We wanted to know what the results were, and were we making a difference?"
For three years, data was collected from those who went through the YouthZone program. A screening tool was developed to allow case workers a better understanding of the young people they were working with, along with a method to measure and monitor progress over time.
"We saw a pattern and there were certain things we wanted to know about every kid," Wilde said. "We had baseline data, which we put together with research and began to create a much cleaner tool to use when kids came to us."
It became clear from youth feedback that critical improvements were being made, but YouthZone wanted to know exactly "how" that was being accomplished.
And so the Insight to Impact program was developed. The evidence-based system uses a model designed to support a holistic approach to youth services, identifying a youth's strengths and nurturing their potential.
The Insight to Impact System model identifies a broad range of risk and protective factors, creates a comprehensive intervention strategy and measures progress. It also gives case managers a better understanding of each young person they meet and provides administrative staff with a method to measure and monitor progress over time, creating better outcomes for youth, families and communities.
The results of the Insight to Impact System were so successful, YouthZone knew they had to share it with others.
"The results from using the system we developed were so profound that the board and staff of YouthZone knew the way to be true to our mission for young people was to share what we had created," Wilde said. "It became the core of our world, and we knew we had to share it with other communities."
Wilde left her position with YouthZone to become the CEO of the Insight to Impact team, which provides implementation, training and support of the system.
Feedback from other users has been positive.
"What I love about the Insight to Impact System is that there is history, a method, results and more than one place that it is already being done," said Patrick Williams, a master certified coach, author and clinical psychologist in Palm Coast, Fla.
"We feel very empowered and happy that we are catching high risk issues that we — nor anyone else in the community — have not caught before," said Steve Brittain, executive director of La Plata Youth Services in Durango. "The number of youth we are seeing has gone from basically none to steady referrals each week. The schools are really excited about having us involved. Our collaborations with others in the community and our funding have both increased tremendously."
Wilde credits the community for the successful launch of the program.
"The communities need to take credit and be part of it," Wilde said. "We're launching it from here, but we want to share it. And why shouldn't we?"
The national headquarters of Insight to Impact Inc. will remain in Glenwood Springs.