Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $250,000)
Douglas County, Nebraska is a thriving metropolitan area in the heart of America, though it mirrors national trends with regard to the overrepresentation of BIPOC youth and families within the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. BIPOC individuals are also overrepresented as victims of violence crime. Exposure to community violence is also one of the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) that can increase the potential for antisocial behavior patterns, often resulting in imprisonment, in adults.
Black males in northeast and southeast Omaha are at far greater risk of getting involved in gangs and falling victim to, and/or perpetuating, violence compared to other racial/ethnic groups. Nebraska has also experienced rapid growth in its immigrant and refugee population in recent years, particularly among individuals from South Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan, and other countries experiencing civil wars. Often, these refugees, including children, have witnessed or experienced significant instances of violence. The ACEs created by human rights violations have significant negative effects on the physical and mental wellbeing of youth, and long-term developmental consequences.
Strategies are needed to address the cycle of violence that creates disproportionate representation of youth of color from underserved and historically marginalized communities as victims and within the juvenile justice system. In this application, Douglas County proposes the creation of a partnership with ReConnect, Inc. to implement strategies to prevent youth violence. ReConnect is a culturally-specific 501(c) (3) non-profit organization that provides prevention and intervention support and services to youth and adults involved in the criminal justice system or at risk of involvement, and their families. ReConnect is aware the success of youth hinges on the success of their families. As such, ReConnect will connect participants’ family members to services that will aid them in providing appropriate care and support to their child; this holistic approach will increase protective factors to help prevent youth violence. Douglas County will issue a subaward of approximately 95% of the project award to ReConnect Inc. to (1) use validated assessment tools to identify the risk and protective factors of opportunity youth and their families, (2) provide prevention and early intervention services to at-risk and system-involved youth and families to increase protective factors and prevent youth violence and delinquency, and (3) collaborate with other community-based organizations and justice system agencies to ensure the needs of youth and families are met.