Youth Incarceration Rate Around The World
from No Place for Kids published by Annie E. Casey Foundation
|From RWJF web|
|Photo found at www.crmvet.org|
|From Skoll Foundation website|
When we lock up kids, we lose the experience at the grass-roots, neighborhood level of dealing with young people who are in trouble with the law. Small local organizations lose the capacity and resources to work with youth who are justice-involved. Many neighborhood-based organizations are operating at extremely low capacity. Can they handle this work? There are people and organizations in neighborhoods that are so committed to this work that they will do it with or without funding. They will stick with kids long after the court-mandate ends.
Ruben Austria, Executive Director of Community Connections for Youth (CCFY), wanted to help build the capacity of these organizations, created by people who live in neighborhoods for neighborhood youth. With a demonstration grant from NYS, CCFY began to work with small neighborhood-based organizations within a 10- block radius in the South Bronx to engage youth who had been arrested and were diverted from the system. CCFY wanted to grow the capacity of local organizations operating on shoestring budgets to progressively work with more young people using a strengths-based approach, allowing youth and their families to own the transformative process.
“The aim was not to fix people,” says Nancy Jacobs, the evaluator of the project, “but to say we are all part of the community and we all have responsibility together to work to build the strength of the community.” She added that people don’t mentor the youth, but rather they “bundle” caring for the young people. They are with them all the time, and they bundle with parents and others in the community. Jacobs noted that more than 70 percent of the youth have stayed in these programs with the bundling effect way beyond their court-mandated term. The issue is how to keep this going once the government funding ends.
---Neighborhood organizations, bundling, relationships, sharing power. This isn’t the type of language that we hear in most policy discussions. Are the way we are framing things causing us to not see other assets and ways of working that might be effective in helping make sure all young people are Connected by 25?Clinton Lacey added that these neighborhoods are extremely rich in certain types of resources – knowledge, understanding and relationships -- that have been ignored or undervalued. Systems, he noted, are not sources of solutions. Relationships are. The challenge is how to translate the value of community into something tangible. A core lesson is the necessity to engage the community in a meaningful process, which is counterintuitive and threatening to systems. If funders held systems accountable for outcomes, Lacey stated, the outcomes would be poor. Sharing power is essential to change, and it involves, at a minimum, sharing data and recognizing and supporting capacity in local communities.