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Public Safety / 2013

Youth Outreach Unit Together We Create a Better Y.O.U.

Youth Outreach Unit Together We Create a Better Y.O.U.

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by H.E.L.P.E.R. Foundation

Founded in 1999 V2K H.E.L.P.E.R. Foundation (formerly known as Venice 2000) is a non-profit organization that was originally established to provide gang intervention and prevention services. Since that time, we’ve come to believe that “community-intervention” services are needed now more than ever to combat gang-related violence, the destruction of our communities and the loss of our young people to the lure of economic depravity. The goal of V2K H.E.L.P.E.R. (Help Establish Learning Peace Economics and Righteousness) Foundation is to provide the resources and guidance to help struggling youth and community members of all ages make the transition from negative, anti-social behavior to positive, value centered alternatives. Working in some to the most challenged neighborhoods in Los Angeles HELPER Foundation changes young lives, and in doing so it is changing the city one child, one family at a time. The organization’s mission enables to foster strong, self sufficient family’s, joyful and resilient children and vibrant safe communities. In this program we propose to improve public safety by focusing on the primary systems of internal family structure through a comprehensive V2K-HELPER -“ Y.O.U.,” Wrap Around approach. Our family support work is predicated on the assertion that outcomes for youth cannot be separated from family conditions since families are the primary system for promoting children’s physical, emotional, and cognitive development. As we know once we change the economic structure of the family, improve family conditions emotionally, and physically we are likely to reduce levels of violence and create safer communities. Our programs are organized into three programmatic divisions that synergistically reach all members of the community in a wrap around fashion. Our programming provides Child & Youth Development programs provide at-risk children and young people a range of activities designed to enhance their healthy, pro-social development and address issues that include self-efficacy, self-confidence, resilience, peaceful co-existence, anti-bullying, mentoring, and life success. Parent Education & Family Development programs work with parents to develop their capacity as advocates and champions for their children and to enhance their ability to achieve economic stability and success. Mental Health programs assist children, youth and adults by providing them the tools needed to enhance social and relationship connections and emotional health. Youth Outreach Unit V2K Community Development Program has five components and implementation is carefully sequenced over a 12 month period. These five components of the program target the risk factors related to prevent anti-social behavior, incarceration, gang involvement and substance abuse. ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT LIFE SKILLS / PARENTING COMPONENT SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL COMPETENCE ANTISOCIAL /AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR; VIOLENCE WHOLE COLLABORATIVE APPROACH The program works to improve the planning and organizational effectiveness of the collaborative and parents; the use of the successful integration of workshops, classroom instruction, and the implementation of positive behavioral programs, Public Safety and Community Awareness . It is the Wrap Around Approach that enhances our ability to present programming that build and develops the entire family unit. Thus servicing Youth, Family and Community. The following constituencies and services will be provided under the program umbrella titled “Y.O.U” (Youth Outreach Unit). All services and activities are strategies for youth violence prevention and intervention. • Forty (40) at-risk middle and high school youth ages of 12 to 21 will participate in programming that focuses on (Resilience, Reasoning, Responsibility and Respect) receiving mentoring and life skills training. • All participants come together in the Y.O.U. (Youth Outreach Unit). “Y.O.U.” implements a unique mentoring model that uses a cross generational approach to violence prevention/intervention. The participants of the programs will implement IMPACT sessions. Specific activities in the violence prevention programs include: • Self management, social, interpersonal, and emotional (expression, understanding and regulation) skills training. • Behavior monitoring and reinforcement • Building school success capacity • Cooperative Learning • Problem solving skills development • Promotion of cognitive and moral reasoning skills • Development of positive peer relations • Creation of a positive , anti-bullying climate The programs have demonstrated positive effects on several risk factors associated with violence including aggressive behavior, anxiety and depression, conduct problems and lack of self control.

What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

V2K HELPER Foundation’s overarching achievement is having won the trust of the community it serves. The organization has been a resource for families for over 13 years, continually refining programs and services to best meet the changing needs of a diverse population. Consequently V2K HELPER has access to a large population of low- and middle-income families who trust the organization to provide respectful guidance and effective services.

The organization is consistently sought out as a collaborative partner by other community agencies and has an excellent track record of responsibly managing funding from state, county, public, private, and corporate funders. Following are some specific ways V2K HELPER has been recognized as exemplifying excellence in its field:

• Since 1999, V2K-HELPER has been funded by the City of Los Angeles services to implement a comprehensive violence prevention/intervention program. • Since 2007, V2K-HELPER has implemented City of Los Angeles GRYD Program in multiple Zones, providing services to youth and young adults with an annual budget of at least $750,000.
• Community Development, with an emphasis on low-to-moderate (LMI) communities and individuals addressing: small business education, business retention, entrepreneurial and employment training, and workforce development programs • Community Development, with an emphasis on affordable housing • Currently we provide direct service and linkages to the following services free of charge each month to approximately 200 men, women and children: o Comprehensive wrap-around services that include  counseling,  gang intervention,  conflict resolution,  substance abuse,  Job training and placement services,  tattoo removal,  mental health services We provide a myriad of services throughout Los Angeles County, with primary emphasis in Venice Beach and South Central Los Angeles. Our academic arm provides a professionally and socially enriched facility for graduate and undergraduate training. Venice 2000/ H.E.L.P.E.R. Foundation is considered to be a model at-risk youth service facility and therefore attracts interns and social work students from major universities, such as USC, Loyola Marymount University, and University of California Los Angeles. We subscribe to comprehensive, integrated, community-based collaborative approach providing services to youth that enhances community safety while strengthening and preserving families. Our guiding philosophy is that children and youth must be preserved if the integrity of our society at-large is to be preserved. If families are to be responsible units, they must have access to healthy living environments, adequate food, and education for all its members, employment, and access to health services and freedom from gang, domestic and civil violence.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

The Cease Fire Committee is comprised of organizations ranging from HELPER foundation to Los Angeles Police Department. Youth, Faith Based, Recreation, Law Enforcement, Schools, and Senior Citizen Organizations are a part of The Cease Fire Committee.

Additionally we have a forged a strong strategic alliance with Starview Community Services.

Star View Community Services provides programs for children, adolescents, and transitional age youth who face emotional, behavioral, and learning challenges and have difficulty succeeding in family or community living environments. An experienced staff of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, mental health specialists, and other counselors provide case management and mental health care.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

Integrated, ongoing evaluation is a critical part of all of V2K HELPER’S activities. Both process and outcome measures are used in all programs to gauge participant satisfaction, aspects requiring modification, and progress on measurable objectives. Various evaluation instruments are used agency-wide to determine program effectiveness such as pre/post surveys, interviews, and satisfaction surveys.

Specific evaluation instruments that the agency has developed in conjunction with professional evaluation consultants include:

• Client l Engagement Instrument – measures increases in parental interactive reading time with children, parental involvement in children’s education, and use of community resources and social networks • Family Strengths and Challenges Assessment – 11 scales that measure family conditions from basic needs to social support • Resident Group Outcomes Instrument – measures strength of social support and increases in engagement and self-agency

Additionally, as evidence of the agency’s commitment to program efficacy, V2K HELPER is currently engaged in a City of Los Angeles’ Gang Reduction and Youth Development initiative focused on enhancing the agency’s evaluation capacity by strengthening and deepening its evaluation protocols. Utilizing a comprehensive, state-of-the art software program, Efforts to Outcomes, data collection will be universalized across the agency and used to drive effective program practice in the future.

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

Demographic experts tell us that if juvenile crime rates for persons 10 to 17 continue to increase with expected youth population increases, the year 2010 will see the number of juvenile-committed violent crimes increase by nearly 15 percent.

 However, these projections do not have to be America's destiny.  Over the past two years, there has been a decline in the rates of both murders committed by youth and youth violence in general. While the juvenile violent crime arrest rate increased 62% between 1987 and 1993, it decreased 2.9% in 1995, the first decline in seven years.  

As the problem of juvenile violence has grown, so has our understanding of the problem and some possible solutions. A small percentage of youth are responsible for the bulk of violent juvenile crime; most violent crimes committed by youth are committed against other juveniles; and many involve handguns and/or drug use. Violence is a learned behavior and children neglected, left alone, or uncared for, without appropriate role models, often do not learn right from wrong. Children who suffer abuse at the hands of family violence often learn that violence is natural, even expected.

The success of our V2K Community Development Program has been positively correlated with a multitude of public service assistance. Experts agree that the best predictors of successful transition are: an intensively supportive environment, counseling, mentoring, education, drug treatment, and opportunities for employment. A highly structure multidisciplinary case plan and customized youth services are unavoidably intertwined as a means to successfully engage youth and propel them towards a productive future. The unique program design and topic courses that we have created with the target population in mind (i.e. safety, date rape, gang abatement, self-esteem, childcare, health care, rape crisis counseling, youth support, anger management, violence awareness, mentoring, academic assistance, communication, etc.) will especially benefit minors who have a propensity to engage in criminal and delinquent behavior. Many experts agree that the way one thinks, leads to the way an individual behaves.

Delinquency and youth crime affect not only the victims, but has a “domino effect” on the entire community regardless of the severity of the crime. As youth crime prevails, community fear increases, public safety costs rise, and insecurities abound. It costs more than $40,000 annually to maintain a juvenile in a correctional facility. It costs about $4,000 a year to keep a young person in school. As a result of the erosion of the value of the “family”, the rising costs for education, an increase in prison construction, dilapidated school systems, and cutbacks in state and federal funding, agencies have to rethink their approach to program service delivery. Our ultimate challenge is to debunk various published statistics and promote awareness for what goes on in our community.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

Gangs and gang violence are the result of a many complex social issues, including poverty, lack of educational opportunities, addictive and mental health disorders, scarce job opportunities, and traumatic events in the lives of gang members. Our comprehensive wrap-around services address the clients’ needs and help them redirect their lives. We aid the entire family unit creating the opportunity for complete behavior modification through support and the overall reduction of risk factors. Through this program, we will provide awareness, resources and support that is crucial to ending the violence that plague many the communities that we serve. Success in the year 2050 would mean families and communities we serve would no longer be overcome by violence and despair, but would have hope instilled because awareness, access and resources.