YouthZone evaluation helps ensure program’s impact on kids |

YouthZone evaluation helps ensure program’s impact on kids

John GardnerGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. YouthZone works with young people. What it does is for kids, and it wants to ensure that it is having an impact.So far, it seems to be on the right track, according to a report detailing its latest three-year evaluation of the YouthZone diversion program.According to YouthZone Executive Director Debbie Wilde the evaluation is like an accountability report to show the community that the work they are doing is working.”We can’t be afraid of looking at what we are doing and re-evaluate how we are doing what we are doing,” Wilde said. “We have to evaluate and have information from the kids that go through the program to know.”An outside consultant analyzed 150 pieces of data collected from more than 2,000 kids and parents involved in YouthZone. The evaluation was designed by YouthZone, and all the data collecting is done by them and overseen by outside consultants.”The data is really confidential stuff,” Wilde said. “We ask parents and students for regular feedback to see how they feel it’s working.”YouthZone is constantly collecting the data, and every three years it’s analyzed to help identify areas that need more focus.This year’s evaluation showed significant improvements in key areas such as decreased underage drinking, decreased use of illegal drugs and delinquency, increased school involvement, increased resiliency, increased social support and increased resilience to sexual/emotional/physical abuse.”It gives us great program feedback,” Wilde said. “It’s been awesome. It’s been encouraging to the people that work here.”The data collected also aids YouthZone in identifying issues with kids and has allowed them to structure the programs accordingly over the 25 years it’s been in Glenwood Springs.”We tend to look at kids through their behavior, but we’ve found through the years, that if you do that the felony offender could be a lower risk than the kid that stole the pack of gum when you look at the other factors in their life,” Wilde said.In the past, these same evaluations have helped administrators and case managers understand the work that really needs to be done in order to have an impact on the kids.”We’ve found that you really have to look a little deeper,” Wilde said. “Then you really see success. That is the huge piece of value that we can give back to the community through these evaluations.”Contact John Gardner: 384-9114jgardner@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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