Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $993,736)
Volunteers for Youth Justice (VYJ), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has served Northwest Louisiana since 1981, will further develop its Trauma Responsive School Resource Center Program by establishing new Resource Centers in four additional elementary schools located in Caddo Parish, Louisiana. VYJ will build upon the success of its first School Resource Center, opened in August 2021, to reduce and prevent school violence, address disruptive behaviors in the students, aid parents to learn better parenting skills and access needed social services, and improve morale throughout each elementary school served.
This new initiative combines five of VYJ’s programs for the first time in the Caddo Parish elementary schools. With OJJDP’s assistance, VYJ will provide an onsite full-time Program Coordinator, School-Based Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®) Facilitators, School-Based Truancy Officers, Conflict Resolution and other classes, and an on-call Family in Need of Services (FINS) Officer, which will allow attendance, tardiness, and academic/behavior issues to be addressed on a daily basis, instead of waiting until an issue is out of control.
The TBRI® component allows VYJ’s staff to assist in de-escalating trauma-related behavior, while freeing up the teachers to continue to teach class without disruption. The Truancy Officer at each school will provide early identification and assessment of truant children and promptly deliver coordinated interventions to prevent continued unexcused school absences. VYJ’s Conflict Resolution Program teaches students how to resolve conflicts without violence, healthy self-esteem, and communication skills, among other life skills. VYJ’s Leadership Academy is an intensive program that includes field trips, community service, and sponsoring events to foster leadership skills. Younger students will participate in age-appropriate Reading and Nurture Groups, to learn proactive empowering strategies and experience playful engagement. FINS Officers handle more serious cases of ungovernable and runaway behavior in students.
Students and their families will receive services and intensive case management from VYJ and a multidisciplinary team of agencies and service providers. This network of service providers will address the governmental and legal aspects of operating school programs, as well as the health and social service needs of students and their families. VYJ will coordinate their input and activities through its new Program Coordinator, who will convene regular meetings with this team, as well the parents and students at each school.