YouthZone offers a space of safety and understanding throughout the community

YouthZone in Glenwood Springs is located at Ninth Street and Blake Avenue.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

YouthZone Executive Director Jami Hayes recently presented to Glenwood Springs City Council, saying the local organization has increased services and staff training, along with its overall capacity to intervene.

“Due to the data that we see and the needs that we see for kids who come in, the increased need for substance use education and substance intervention is through the roof,” Hayes said.

She added that the whole staff has a substance education level of training to have the ability to provide a primary level of intervention with any of the children walking through their doors. 

At least 33% of children being referred to YouthZone are being referred for substance-related reasons, while 50% of the overall young people being referred to YouthZone are referred through the court system. 

One of the organization’s main goals is to provide youth tools and resources to reduce risk and elevate their success. 

YouthZone now has a certified addiction technician on staff who’s able to provide a more intensive level of support. They have also added regular groups throughout the valley for life skills.

“We’ve increased our substance work,” Hayes said. “We’ve increased our peer-support group work, we’re expanding our space.”

Their expansion now includes a safe space for members of the LGBTQ+ community with local clinician Janet Gordon, and they are in the process of expanding that reach to two more physical communities in the valley. 

On average, YouthZone serves 115 young people annually in Glenwood Springs, and 282 in all of Garfield County.

All clients who completed their contracts with YouthZone did not reoffend, according to the presentation.

“We’re both intervention and prevention for a lot of our kids in our communities,” Hayes said. 

Glenwood Springs City Council Member Tony Hershey, who’s also a district attorney, said the council will be particularly interested in the work YouthZone does in municipal court.

“I’m here sometimes because of the crossover kids from state court,” he said.

Nearly 20% of youth are referred because of their parents and the rest are referred for counseling and higher-level crimes like robbery, theft, burglary or criminal mischief.

“We work very closely with our law enforcement partners, our courts, we intervene with kids who are involved in the judicial system, and we intervene with kids who are close to being involved who are at risk of being involved in the judicial system. 

YouthZone also offers services for assessments or restorative justice, coaching and intervention with more minor crimes like harassment, menacing, fraud, traffic offenses and bomb or weapon threats. 

“If you come anytime at municipal court, we’re here whether it’s a first time offense or we have a youth who is returning and presenting their contract and their completion of work with you soon,” Hayes said. 

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