2016 YOUTH BUREAU ANNUAL REPORT

Major Events and Accomplishments

*Capital Region Youth Justice Team

The Saratoga County Youth Bureau meets regularly with the Capital Region Youth Justice Team.  This team was created to help the State and localities drive the important work of juvenile justice reform forward and move toward the Strategic Planning Action Committee (SPAC) vision of promoting youth success and ensuring public safety across New York State.

The Saratoga County Youth Bureau was invited to participate in the Aftercare and Re-entry Workgroup that was formed to have roundtable discussion and collaboration across counties, in regards to Youth as they enter the Juvenile Justice System.  The workgroup agreed to alter the name to Reintegration as a way to alleviate the concept that we don’t begin our support process at the point of re-entering the community, but at the point of entering the system.  The focus of this team has been to develop a system that will streamline the process for intake, use similar data collection tools, support a sharing of confidential information across all departments involved in case management; with a final outcome of creating and implementing an effective continuum of services based on best practices.  One of the goals of this team will be to include Youth Bureaus, during the referral and treatment process, to assist in making an evidence-informed referral to individuals that will benefit from a relationship with a community support program or service that is close to their home.  The establishment of this relationship, between the individual and service/support programs, will assist them with aftercare and re-entry to the community, and will foster family and community engagement with positive outcomes.          

* Safe Harbour Grant

Safe Harbour addresses one of the most disturbing issues of our time, human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of youth.  In 2016, grant allocations provided by the NYS Office of Children and Family Services allowed the Local Department of Social Services to partner with Saratoga Center for the Family, CAPTAIN Youth and Family Services, and the Youth Bureau, to provide information and resources that support and strengthen the safety net and response to Commercially Sexually Exploited Youth (CSEY.)  Together we provided outreach training and materials to stakeholders from the community in regards to CSEY.  A full day conference was held on the Skidmore Campus in Saratoga Springs with the goal of raising awareness of the issue of trafficking and CSEY for those who work with youth and children who are runaway and homeless, disadvantaged, at-risk, disenfranchised, involved in the legal system or probation, and/or other situations that would make them susceptible to exploitation.  Members of various branches of the legal system, medical field, county departments, public and private affiliations, the educational system, and the public at large, were invited to learn about identifying potential victims and where they fit in the County’s collaborative response for assisting and referring an identified victim.

The keynote speaker shared her personal story of being a runaway and homeless youth that has survived the violent crime of human trafficking.  At only 20 years old she has testified against her trafficker.  He was convicted on 15 felony counts and has been sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.  One session of the conference consisted of a panel presentation that included a representative from CAPTAIN, Social Services, The Charlton School, the St. Anne Institute, St. Catherine’s Center for Children, and LaSalle’s Specialized Treatment Services Program.  During the session each representative interactively shared their various roles, the type of vulnerable and at-risk youth susceptible to trafficking, and then demonstrated their collaborative effort in working to identify, address, and deal with the problem of trafficking and CSEY in Saratoga County.

This funding stream will continue to raise awareness, increase collaborative efforts, and improve the procedures for preventing, identifying, and beginning the healing process for identified victims in Saratoga County for the next four years.

 *Saratoga County Suicide Prevention Coalition

 Saratoga County Mental Health and the Suicide Prevention Center-NY have invited several county departments, including the Youth Bureau, along with community stakeholders to develop strategies to address suicide.  Early accomplishments included a review of local, State and national suicide data; examination of other County Coalition efforts to prevent suicide; and completion of a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis and logic model of local conditions that will guide future Coalition efforts.  Ultimately, goals will include reducing the number of suicides in Saratoga County, by raising awareness and reducing stigma, in order to identify and assist people affected by suicide.

* Youth Recreation, Services, Opportunities & Supports

 The Youth Bureau continues to work with municipalities and other youth serving agencies to provide quality programs and activities for the youth of Saratoga County.  Our efforts aim to prevent and control delinquency and to further positive broad based youth development.

A site visit to each program and facility has created a relationship in which the Youth Bureau is the focal point for communities to share resources and opportunities.  With increased communication, and technology as a tool, we will foster collaborative working relationships between the communities we serve, for better youth programming.

The Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) added performance measures to the 2016 application process.  The performance measures require programs to annually report on how much, how well and who is better off for participating in a specific program.  The process has engaged programs in better methods for tracking attendance, raising standards for quality employees and program development, as well as, accountability that program efforts and goals are being achieved.  Although change can be difficult, the programs in Saratoga County uphold high standards and are successfully adjusting to the requirements, with a realization that the process is causing internal procedural review and positive change.

* Saratoga County DWI Victim Impact Panels

The Youth Bureau continues to provide support staff and coordination for the Saratoga County DWI Victim Impact Panels.  In 2016, 10 panels were held with a total of 816 offenders in attendance.  This represents a 4.75 % increase over 2015.  In May 2011, Saratoga County began charging a $25.00 fee to attend the panel.  This has generated $21,026 in revenue for 2016.  Effective January 1, 2016 Wes Carr was appointed the STOP DWI Coordinator for Saratoga County.

*Advisory Youth Board Update

The Advisory Youth Board met four times in 2016.  This Board is actively involved with the oversight of the various Youth Bureau activities and events.  The Board works to assess and address the needs of the youth in Saratoga County and serves as an avenue by which members can exchange ideas and improve programming.  Guests from the community are invited to share program or training opportunities that they provide to local youth.

This year the Board invited Amanda Duff, Saratoga County Public Health Educator to present information from her County position.  She offered areas of focus that have been identified for improvement, including binge alcohol usage and obesity, in addition to, drug use and public safety and the creation of a Mental Health task force work group.  Also, Tina Potter, Commissioner of the Saratoga County Department of Social Services, presented information regarding the 5 year Safe Harbour grant in May.  She revisited the Board in November to provide updates on the 2016 accomplishments, as well as, share goals that have been set for the remainder of the funding term.

*Website development and Resource directory

 Information and updates continue to enhance the resource directory that has been available to community members via the Youth Bureau website.  It hosts links and contact information for a wide array of services.  For example, there is access to emergency and hotline numbers, educational and employment resources, as well as, community links and County recreational offerings.  In addition, the website has listings for upcoming DWI Panels, Training or Grant Opportunities, and Community News.

*Saratoga County Fair

 The Youth Bureau staff, along with representatives from many of our contracted agencies, engaged youth at the Saratoga County Fair.  Our philosophy of promoting positive youth development was evident by the encouragement and enthusiasm that was offered to each youth participant.  Every child visiting our booth had the opportunity to play games and sign up for a free drawing.  This is the only booth for children where there is NO COST involved with the activities AND everyone leaves with a prize!

This year’s theme highlighted the community agencies and programs that are funded with OCFS grants through the Youth Bureau.  The youth received a scorecard with directions to engage in each of the stations to collect stickers.  The youth could draw a picture of what they like to do, use silly photo props to make someone smile, build with blocks and sight words or try their skills at tic tac toe and ring toss.  Adults could place the youth’s name and phone number in a prize drawing and each child could choose a token prize.  Donations from Stewarts and McDonalds were received by the Youth Bureau to facilitate this activity.  The tent was shared with other County departments which assists in raising our profile and offering a more comprehensive representation of County departments, programs and services.  Posters listing agencies that are funded through the Youth Bureau were present, as well as, many brochures that offer programs and information that families can resource.

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