YouthZone column: Local collaboration key to providing a network of youth support

Stefanie Maurice
For YouthZone

YouthZone’s recent efforts to strengthen collaboration with a strong network of community partners to share resources and funding will mean increased and positive outcomes for youth, families and communities.

Increasing access and decreasing barriers through these partnerships provides a broader network of support at an earlier stage to decrease the possibility of delinquent behaviors resulting in involvement in the juvenile justice system.

By increasing access to interventions with districts, school leaders, SROs, family resource centers and mental health organizations, the heightened visibility of available services will sustain a path of prevention as opposed to future offenses that may have resulted in a ticket and referral to the court.

Our local schools, family resource centers and Hope Center provide critical resources and interventions for youth and families. Collaborative outreach increases access to intensive needs for youth and families. These strong partnerships from Parachute to Aspen form a community tapestry that allows each entity to bring its specialty to the table to form a comprehensive plan of support for youth and families.

Each of our organizations provides unique services in creating the best plan to work collectively. YouthZone’s current diversion model, with 98% recidivism effectiveness, increases our capacity to intervene earlier with help and referrals from our partners. YouthZone will continue to provide substance use groups and one-on-one counseling, mental health counseling, trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, court services, crisis support for youth in detention for the 9th Judicial District, family consultation, youth coaching, restorative justice and community education.

Self-harming behavior, increased trauma and suicide ideation require an immediate response. Partnerships with Mind Springs, Hope Center and Mountain Family will pull in professional resources with increased systems for ease of access and expertise needed for our youth and families who may need a broader team.

In Glenwood, shared agreements are underway with Glenwood Springs Middle School, Glenwood Springs High School and Riverview School (through RFSD leadership), Yampah Mountain High School and Two Rivers Community School to create a lens of shared responsibility that involves the schools, parents, youth and YouthZone. With shared goals, services become more individualized, intervention plans are collaborative, accountability exists with shared expectations in all settings, and communication and feedback become predictable and routine.

In order to increase accessibility, YouthZone staff are mobilizing to meet families and youth where they feel safe and comfortable, whether that is inside or outside the school environment. Bilingual and bicultural staff have been hired to respond to intakes, and youth and families can access needed funding when they are referred through the school for incidents that occur during the school day.

YouthZone and the Roaring Fork School District have received support for this collaborative project work in Glenwood Springs this past spring. YouthZone is combining this with other funding to increase interventions in Glenwood, our highest referral community, to initiate and increase substance and mental health related issues:

  • Increased human resource allocated to the Glenwood Springs youth who are referred for substance (nicotine, alcohol, marijuana, vaping and other);
  • Establishing weekly groups at Glenwood Springsand Yampah Mountain high schools for peer support groups around substance;
  • Increased evidence-based curriculum and professional development for substance interventions and group facilitation (including marijuana, vaping and smoking cessation);
  • Increased human resources allocated in Glenwood Springs for youth advocates and substance specialists.

Through monthly data points measuring our indicators of success tied to positive community outcomes, YouthZone is able to course adjust and flex services between communities, depending on the need. We are formalizing outcomes with educational partners to develop a feedback tool that assists us in adjusting and flexing based on our quality indicators as well as feedback from our school partners.

Additional funding is being sought to expand staff so robust prevention programming is accessible in all communities that YouthZone serves. Work is already in progress with other schools in the Roaring Fork School District, Aspen School District, Garfield Re-2 and District 16 in Parachute, and Youthzone is seeking funding to support all private, homeschool and charter school partners as well as all other community referral sources. We are here and ready to help.

Stefanie Maurice is YouthZone’s grants and data manager. She has spent her professional career working in health care administration. She recently obtained her MBA and also has a degree in health care administration and management from Colorado State University.

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