Youth and Youth Worker Input Needed for Summer Celebration Task Force

As a result of the violent youth activity that coincided with the 2010 Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration and the increasing violence that threatens our youth on a daily basis, the city of Indianapolis along with Indiana Black Expo (IBE) formed the Summer Celebration Task Force. The task force was created to address youth violence, security and safety at future IBE and community events as well as to identify the root causes of youth violence.

However, there are two key audiences missing from the task force: youth and youth workers. While it is important for the task force to include community, business and government leaders, without youth voice and youth worker input on the task force, the root causes will not be genuinely identified and a solution will not be found. Youth, whom are the ones that will be directly impacted from the decisions and recommendations, have valuable perspectives to add to the task force.

Because of the significant gap in youth representation on the task force, the Marion County Commission on Youth (MCCOY), went to the source, youth, to ask their opinions on youth violence, why it happens and what we as a community can do together to solve this issue. MCCOY staff members conducted three focus groups at local youth-serving agencies: Lilly Unit of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Indianapolis, Hawthorne Community Center, and YouthBuild Indy. During these focus groups, youth ranging from age 11-24 answered questions about youth violence and contributed their insights about possible solutions addressing the issue.

The findings of MCCOY’s focus groups, which were sent to the city of Indianapolis and the IBE office, are included in a report titled Perspectives on Youth Violence: Youth Share their Thoughts on a Community-Wide Problem. It is our hope that MCCOY’s work will contribute to the success of the Summer Celebration Task Force in grappling with this difficult issue and that the task force will consider adding youth voice and youth worker input on the task force itself. The community at large will also find our report helpful in working with youth and adding youth voice to address and identify community issues.

Download your copy of Perspectives on Youth Violence: Youth Share their Thoughts on a Community-Wide Problem.

Art & Nature = Free Fun for Kids of All Ages!

Have you been to the Indianapolis Museum of Art recently?

The newly opened nature park is so unique, fun and definitely something that all our city’s children would enjoy.

The park, called 100 Acres, fuses nature and art– two elements vital to a healthy, happy soul for kids and adults (in my opinion).
The best part: the park and the art museum are always totally FREE!

Check out this great video about 100 Acres that aired recently on the national PBS News Hour with Jim Lehrer!

Photos of 100 Acres from the Indianapolis Museum of Art website.

Mentors Can Help Children Bridge the Learning Gap

Once again, the Indianapolis Star’s Our Children, Our City series is shedding light on challenges facing our young people. Below is an excerpt from Robert King’s most recent article for the series. Read the full article: Challenges clear for School 61 kindergartners.

“This vast gulf of readiness for kindergarten was evident in children seated right next to each other in the same class.

SeNyah Bolden, a 5-year-old who showed up with an entourage — her mom, grandma, grandpa, aunt and assorted siblings and cousins — smiles readily and responds to her teacher’s questions. In a congested room, she offers a pleasant “excuse me” to an adult in her path. She is glad to be here. She is a teacher’s dream.

Next to her is a boy who showed up on the first day without anyone. He gave his name to the librarian and the principal, but his teacher could glean only a first initial and his last name. For the first three days, that’s how he was known. He started making a name for himself in other ways.

On his first trip to the library, he wandered to the back of the room and started spinning in a chair. Unresponsive to the librarian, he earned a trip to the principal’s office — two hours into his school career.

It wouldn’t be his last. By the end of his first week, the boy called a lunchroom worker a name that included the F-word and was reported by a bus driver for dangerously waving sticks around other kids at the bus stop.

Two children, as different as night and day, taking their first steps across life’s tender little starting line. Though, clearly, not starting from the same place.”

Photo credit: Alan Petersime / The Star

MCCOY’s Learning Network Presents: Youth Worker Summit

The Youth Worker Summit will be an opportunity for other youth development organizations to receive high quality training in areas highly relevant to their work. Each participant will have an opportunity to attend 2 workshops led by highly skilled facilitators. In addition, the large group sessions and networking opportunities will provide insightful information that will provoke meaningful conversations and thoughts. This youth development approach is based in positive youth development research, and the desire to create a safe, supportive, and productive environment for youth. The approach, is premised on the belief that it is a youth worker’s job to set up an environment for youth in which needs are met and learning is encouraged—to create a space in which youth can thrive.
  1. Voice & ChoiceProviding young people with authentic, meaningful choices is a hallmark of truly engaging environments. This workshop is focused on providing meaningful choice within activities and voice within the youth program itself.
  2. Building CommunityThis lively workshop introduces participants to numerous community-building and relationship-building activities.
  3. Cooperative LearningThis workshop addresses youth’s interaction in groups—both the cooperative learning environment and leadership opportunities.
  4. Active LearningIntroduces the remarkable benefits of providing opportunities for youth to actively explore materials and ideas. The workshop introduces the “ingredients” of active learning as well as methods for creating high-impact, active environments.
  5. Scaffolding for Success How do you set the bar high for youth and help them exceed their expectations? This workshop is about working closely with youth to find their learning edge and helping them experience just the right amount of challenge.
  6. Ask-Listen-Encourage Introduces a method for building supportive, youth-centered relationships. The workshop prepares participants to ask lots of effective questions, to listen actively to youth, and to encourage youth by tapping their intrinsic motivation.

Who should attend?
The Youth Work Methods workshops are designed to empower direct-staff with tools that will increase the quality of their work with youth.
Limited Registration 
Registration Deadline: September 3
When: Thursday September 16,2010
Where: Franklin University
lake Point Center 5 8415 Allison Point Blvd., Suite 400
Indianapolis, In 46250

Click here to register:

Delivering some strong medicine: ‘Teachable moment’ in ER helps change crime victims’ lives

An article in today’s Indianapolis Star illustrates the powerful, positive, life-changing impact of Wishard Hospital’s Prescription for Hope program.

Click here to read Shari Rudavsky’s full story on the hospital’s intervention program that is having impressive results.

The Prescription for Hope program helped Chris Lee (center)
and his family after he was shot. He poses with (clockwise from lower left)
Dicimber Lee, Jauvyion Lee, Victoria Wright, Jonathan McCann,
Jaunelle McCann, Ishiah Bethea and Janyiah Lee.
– Jennifer Cecil / The Star

What we know and what we need to find out

After an inclusive strategic planning process, the Early Intervention and Prevention (EIP) Initiative was launched in July 2010. Ten strategies were identified that, when successfully implemented, will help keep our children, youth and families free from child abuse, neglect and delinquency and will reduce the need for child welfare and juvenile justice interventions.

We believe that the EIP Initiative has the potential to significantly reduce the incidence rates of child abuse, neglect and delinquency in our community and lower the public cost of dealing with these tragic events. In order for us to be able to show whether our efforts are successful, we must be able to measure the current rates of child abuse, neglect and delinquency–what we call a “baseline” measurement, meaning the situation before we start trying to change things–and then to measure the rate of change as the EIP Initiative continues over the next three years.

Part of the challenge is that most of the information we need is not readily available. The Indiana Department of Child Services publishes aggregate reports on their website on various aspects of the child abuse/neglect problem in Marion County and across the state, but these do not include the raw data necessary for further analysis and do not include information on some key indicators for the EIP Initiative such as public costs for DCS services or number of first-time incidents. Juvenile court data reflecting delinquency incidence rates are much harder to find, since access to minors’ court records is legally restricted (unless a legitimate need to know is shown).

In June, July and August, MCCOY met with a number of experts to advise us on which data sets are needed to measure the EIP Initiative’s effectiveness in reducing child abuse, neglect and delinquency, keeping families out of “the system” and reducing public costs, and how to obtain those data sets. We have prepared and submitted formal Requests for Information to the Department of Child Services and the Indiana Supreme Court to begin collecting these data in a systematic way. Our next step is to populate a Data Collection & Dissemination Team to oversee analysis of the raw data to measure whether the EIP Initiative is having a positive impact and guide our community reporting efforts.

If you have a knack for data, know the child welfare or juvenile justice systems inside and out, or have a passion for keeping children safe and out of trouble, we want you to join the Data Collection & Dissemination Team! We need people who can help us tell the story behind the numbers and what they mean to the children and families in our community as well as hard data lovers, so there is room on this team for everyone who can help us spread the word about our impact. If you are interested in participating or simply want to find out more, please e-mail Shanna Malott at [email protected].

Why should we all care about “I Care”?

“I Care” is a public awareness campaign designed to increase the Greater Indianapolis communities’ knowledge of the extremely large high school dropout rates in Marion County; and to ask community members to get involved by helping students, schools, parents and non-profits. The goal of the campaign is to increase high school graduation rates from 73 percent to 80 percent by the 2014-2015 school year.

Why should you care about the high school dropout rate in Marion County? Well there are plenty of reasons why. The dropout rates do not just affect the students themselves; they affect peers, schools, families, the business community and every individual that lives or works within the Greater Indianapolis community.

Last year there were more than 23 thousand Indiana students that did not graduate from high school. Those 23 thousand dropouts will cost Hoosiers more than 280 million dollars in health care costs over the lifetime of those students. Moreover, reducing the dropout rate is proven to help increase household income, which would increase dollars back into our local economy. The reduced cost spent on crime and increased revenue would total over 150 million dollars for Indiana.

The “I Care” campaign, which was designed by Emmis Communications and presented by State Farm Insurance, kicked-off this morning and will continue for the next three months. The campaign consists of radio ads featured on three Emmis stations – WIBC 93.1, HANK 97.1 and B105.7, testimonials from local business, non-profit and community leaders, as well as a website

The campaign is asking for community members to get involved by joining the Student Success Team, becoming informed on the issues by signing up for the Drop-out Prevention eNewsletter, volunteering at a local school, advocating for local youth and youth issues and donating financial support to the cause.

MCCOY’s Student Success Team is devoted to ensuring that all students realize their potential and are given access to America’s Promise Alliance’s Five Promises; caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, an effective education and opportunities to help others.

To show you care, log onto and become a positive influence in raising high school graduation rates.

Assess the Problem

Strategy #1 of the EIP strategic plan, Early Intervention and Prevention: Building a Foundation for Family and Community Success is Assess the Problem. What does assess the problem mean? And why is it important? According to Management Sciences for Health and the United Nations Children’s Fund, “identifying a very clear defined and specific problem is the first critical step to successfully implementing the problem-solving process.” The EIP Initiative agrees with this and has sought to identify the problem of abuse, neglect and delinquency in Marion County by conducting surveys, hosting a community roundtable, meeting with service providers, asking consumers of services their thoughts, and conducting research. All of these efforts led to the conclusion that children and families in Marion County are in need of a well-coordinated early intervention and prevention system of care in order to be safe, supported, and successful.

Now that we have identified the problem and developed some strategies to address the problem, we are collecting data to help us describe the problem to the fullest extent. We are collecting data from the Department of Child Services and the Marion County Superior Court, Juvenile Division to help us answer such questions as: frequency, who, where, and when for children entering the child welfare and juvenile justice system.

The data we obtain will help us to continue to analyze the problem and determine if the strategies we’ve identified and are implementing are effectively addressing the problem and reducing the number of children who are abused or neglected or commit status or criminal offenses.

If you enjoy analyzing and reporting on data and would like to help implement the EIP strategic plan by joining the Data Collection & Dissemination Implementation Team please contact Shanna Malott at 317-921-1233 or [email protected]

So, what is MCCOY doing in terms of advocacy?

That’s a question that has been asked since the development of the public policy and advocacy coordinator position earlier this summer. MCCOY’s Board of Directors determined, through a strategic planning process, that MCCOY was in a unique position in Marion County to get involved in advocacy for positive youth development. The Early Intervention and Prevention Initiative (EIP) surveyed local youth-serving organizations and determined that, while there are advocacy efforts going on, there are some gaps that exist. The survey concluded that an organization was needed to help fill those gaps and lead coordinated advocacy efforts as well as support the existing collaborations and organizations in their efforts.

MCCOY is now conducting research through meetings with key local, state and national advocates and forming partnerships with advocacy organizations, service providers, youth and the community. We are getting involved in committees that align with our priorities and heading up the EIP Advocacy & Awareness Implementation Team. In addition to advocating for early intervention and prevention, our priorities include:

  • Youth Dropout Prevention
  • Youth Program Quality Assessment (YPQA)
  • Youth Worker Professional Development

Visit our website for more information about the Early Intervention and Prevention Initiative. for more information or if you have questions, please contact Mindi Goodpaster at [email protected] No prior advocacy experience is necessary! We’ll give you the tools that you need to become a powerful advocate for youth.