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Student Spotlight

"I’ve been in foster care all my life. The statistics say that when you aren’t raised with your parents, you won’t be as exceptional as everyone else. They also predicted that I would end up pregnant by age 16, on drugs or in jail. I wasn’t supposed to be the success story that I am.

"I enrolled in Waterbury Youth Service’s 'Career Builders in Health' Program to earn my CNA certification so that I can help people who are sick. My mom is sick, my father was sick and passed away, my grandmother too. If there’s a way for me to help other sick people, I want to do it.

"By becoming a CNA, I will show that statistics are just numbers. They don’t define you unless you let them. Some days, class is really challenging. You have to put in a lot of extra effort. But I think of everything I want to achieve for myself and the people I can help and I know I GOT THIS!"

Casandra Nazario, Student in WYS's new "Career Builders in Health" program.

Homeless Youth Winter Clothing Drive

In the fall and winter months, many of the kids who come to our Homeless Youth Resource Center don't have basic winter protection, including coats, hats, gloves, scarves and mittens. We always try to have extra supplies on hand for them to take, but we are completely out of winter gear. If you can donate new or gently used winter clothing--or wish to organize a drive in your community--please contact Marianne Malanaphy at WYS at 203-573-0264.

Ages:
Youth 13-24

When to organize a drive:
Now through the end of December

Ways to organize a drive:
Share our flyer with your social networks and ask friends/family to donate winter gear directly to us or you

Approach your church, club or civic group to which you belong and ask if they'll host a drive

How to get the donations to Waterbury Youth Services:
Contact Marianne Malanaphy at WYS at 203-573-0264 to arrange drop-off or pick up.

Emergency Stop Gap Measure Saves Program

Thirty five Juvenile Review Board (JRB) programs across the state including Waterbury Youth Services Inc.’s were in danger of potentially shutting down after the Connecticut General Assembly neglected to allocate funds for JRBs in its 2019 budget adjustments last May. But an emergency stop gap measure issued by the State of Connecticut Office of Policy and Management (OPM) gives a 12 month lifeline to eligible JRBs, including WYS's.

The State's program provides one year grants to assist local municipalities in supporting JRBs that were previously funded through state appropriated dollars provided by the Department of Children and Families (DCF).

In order for Waterbury Youth Services (WYS) to be awarded funds, the Waterbury Board of Alderman had to pass a motion that would allow the City to enter into contract with OPM, which they did on September 10th. WYS is now scheduled to receive $154,442 to fund its JRB program through August 31, 2019.

Juvenile Review Board (JRB) programs have been used widely and successfully for more than a decade across the state to keep youth with low-level misdemeanor offenses from entering the juvenile justice system.

JRBs offer a community-based alternative to deal with school, family and minor criminal incidents so that no child enters the juvenile justice system without having exhausted appropriate community resources. JRBs give youth the chance to learn from their mistakes and tools to make better choices in the future by connecting them and their families to support programs.

“This funding will provide the opportunity to keep 150-200 youth who committed misdemeanor offenses from entering the juvenile justice system” says Kathi M. Crowe, Waterbury Youth Services Inc.’s Executive Director. “It will help us sustain our current five JRB panels as well as expand to a sixth truancy-specific panel that will address the chronically absent and truant students through a non-judicial path.”

In a typical year, Waterbury Youth Services Inc.’s JRB deals with 150-200 cases. Last year, 96% of the youth who went through their program were not re-arrested.

Waterbury Youth Services Inc.’s JRB consists of a Program Manager, two Case Managers and is largely supported by volunteers who have experience in child development, education, adolescent behavior, family dynamics, youth development, and/or juvenile laws and procedures.

The value of JRBs can not be overstated. “The JRB program at WYS offers a great service to these children, offering them an opportunity to reflect on their past behavior; identify what their individualized needs are and work with the staff and volunteers, through the JRB, to move forward in a productive manner,” says Diane E. Haggis, Ed. D, who has volunteered for three and a half years on Waterbury Youth Services Inc.’s JRB. “As a long-standing member on two separate JRB teams within Waterbury Youth Services, I am honored to be a part of the comprehensive service that is provided to our youth.”

The JRB can require students to undertake counseling, conflict resolution classes, therapy, substance abuse services, mentoring, tutoring assistance, or a variety of other programs. The Board can also recommend that students write essays or letters of apology, or perform community service.

Cases are referring to Waterbury Youth Services by City Police, Schools, Court, DCF, as well as other sources. Youth must remain in WYS’ JRB program for six months.

“We’re relieved that OPM came up with a solution for funding JRBs for the next twelve months and grateful to the City for approving the grant award,” says Ms. Crowe.  “Our JRB excels at getting to the bottom of why the youth did what they did in the first place then connecting them with the support services they need to address these problems. We value our youth and WYS’s JRB gives them a chance to succeed in the future.”

>Click here to learn more about Waterbury Youth Services Inc. Juvenile Review Board Program

New IT After School Program to Close the Gender Gap in Technology

Waterbury Youth Services, Inc. has been awarded a $7,357 grant from the Women’s Giving Circle at Connecticut Community Foundation to launch an after-school IT club based on the nationally acclaimed Girls Who Code program for high school students.

Information technology (IT) is a booming sector of the economy. All professions, including traditionally female professions in health and education, are being reimagined through technology. Those with IT abilities will enjoy a distinct advantage in the job market.

But girls are lagging behind. Nationally, computer programming classes attract 20% of the boys but fewer than 10% of girls. And while 20% of male college freshmen intend to major in computer science, only 4% of females do (source: National Center for Women & Information Technology).

According to WYS Executive Director Kathi M. Crowe, “Girls comprise a small minority of Waterbury high school students learning IT. We want to help correct that imbalance. By encouraging more girls – especially those living in homes below the poverty line – to take advantage of IT education and giving them easy access to it, we will increase their prospects for future economic success.”

Enrollment is now open for WYS’ Girls Who Code program, which will begin October 5, 2018. Over the course of 35 weeks, club members will learn computer software on Fridays from 3:00 - 4:30 p.m. in the Computer Lab of WYS, located at 83 Prospect Street, Waterbury. In addition to learning code, club members will participate in field trips, team projects, and hear from multiple guest speakers in IT.

Graduates will demonstrate mastery of beginner coding through their ability to complete the curriculum, and to develop, as a team, a project such as a website, app, or game. Club members will submit their project to Girls Who Code, Inc. which publishes top projects on its website.

Girls Who Code clubs are in all fifty states and have served 90,000+ girls. Girls Who Code teaches soft and hard skills including teamwork, confidence, and communication; along with the concepts of functions, variables, conditionals, and loops that form the basis of all programming languages. For more information, visit GirlsWhoCode.com

The Women’s Giving Circle at Connecticut Community Foundation is a diverse group of community-minded people who want to improve and enrich the lives of women and girls in Greater Waterbury and the Litchfield Hills. For more information, contact Heidi Green, Director of Development at Connecticut Community Foundation 203.753.1315, x113.

Waterbury Youth Services, Inc. is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit charity serving 1,000 youth and their families each year through 22 programs including: Juvenile Justice, Mentoring, Truancy Prevention, Homeless Youth Resource Center, Youth & Family Emergency Services, Afterschool Programs, and Child Abuse Interdisciplinary Team.

>>Click here for more information on this program

Jump Start Careers in Health Care for Young People

Waterbury Youth Services has been awarded a $81,533.51 grant from the Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board to launch Career Builders in Health” to train, certify, and place young adults ages 16 to 24 into Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) jobs, followed by supports that help participants pursue a post- secondary education.

“The health professions are a major growth sector of the economy,” says Waterbury Youth Services’ Executive Director Kathi M. Crowe. “The demand for Certified Nursing Assistants continues to rise. At the same time, successful CNAs are well-positioned to further their educations and become Physical Therapy Assistants, Nurses, Paramedics, Pharmacy Technicians, and other health professionals with associate degrees.”

After job placement, Career Builders in Health will provide mentoring and peer support to enhance on-the-job performance. Additional workshops and personal counseling will guide participants toward a two-year medical training program of their choice.

“The Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board promotes business growth and economic opportunity by expediting talent matching and provides access to training programs that address skill gaps,” says Catherine N. Awwad, Executive Director of Northwest Regional Workforce Investment Board. “We’re excited to partner with Waterbury Youth Services on this new initiative that is designed to encourage participants to use their CNA experience as a stepping stone to further job opportunities in the health field.”

Waterbury Adult Education will be a leading partner in this program. Their curriculum will incorporate classroom learning with clinical experience in a local nursing home

WYS has begun the recruitment phase of Career-Builders in Health, which is completely free of charge to eligible participants. To qualify, young adults must be 16 to 24 years old, not enrolled in an educational program and unemployed or underemployed in minimum-wage jobs.

Update: Program slots have been filled

>>Click here for more information on this program

Doubling the Impact on After School Programs for Teens through CHEFA Grant

Waterbury Youth Services has been awarded a $41,394 grant from Connecticut Health & Education Facilities Authority (CHEFA) to double the size of its after-school program for high school students, Linking Academics to Life, for the 2018/2019 school year.

Linking Academics to Life (LAL) is a free afterschool program that helps students excel in academics while learning critical time management and life skills. The program runs Monday-Thursday from 3pm-5pm and students can choose to enroll in one of four focus areas: Journalism, Entrepreneurial Program, Woodworking, or Senior Preparation. Tutoring and homework assistance is offered every day.

“Each year, we have a long wait list of students trying to get into our LAL program,” says Waterbury Youth Services’ Executive Director Kathi M. Crowe. “This CHEFA grant will allow us to nearly double the capacity of our LAL program. The impact will be far reaching and life changing, as in recent years, 100% of LAL seniors get into college, according to Crowe.

“CHEFA is pleased to support Waterbury Youth Services’ after school program for high school students. The Linking Academics to Life Program prepares students and their families with college and career planning and valuable life skills, providing opportunities as they move to the next stage of their lives” said Jeanette Weldon, Executive Director for CHEFA.

Students in the LAL program must attend school daily in order to participate and maintain a minimum C grade point average. If they fall below a C, the program provides individual tutoring. In addition to the four focus areas and tutoring components, LAL youth participate in themed celebrations, college tours, financial literacy workshops, community service, and other activities. Monthly "Family Nights" educate parents on the school system and college application process, and encourage parent participation in the LAL program.

Youth are also offered monthly stipends dependent on school and program attendance and academic achievement. This serves as an additional motivator and way to increase school performance. It also allows youth who might otherwise have to work after school to participate in the program and focus on their academics. The LAL focus areas offer experience that can translate into valuable employment skills.

For more information, contact Kathi Crowe at 203-573-0264 x 301.

A Heartfelt Thank You

Heartfelt thank you to everyone who donated to Waterbury Youth Services during Give Local sponsored by Connecticut Community Foundation. By supporting WYS, you affirmed your confidence in our efforts to guide youth to discover their unique talents and potential for success. Thank you for being a partner in strengthening our community! We are so grateful for your support.

Never Give Up

Never give up and pay it forward is the message from CJ, WYS student since 2014. "Kids go through a lot at home, at school. It’s easy to give up. WYS has been a big support system for me. Once you start there, you feel like family. WYS has always given me somewhere to go, kept me out of trouble, kept me in the right state of mind. It’s just been a really big help. I love music. I love dancing, especially Hip Hop and R&B. I love working with kids. So now, I’m a volunteer dance instructor at WYS. I hope to have the same effect on the kids that WYS had on me."

National Safe Place Week

Special thanks to the Waterbury Mayor's Office for proclaiming March 18 - 24, 2018 as National Safe Place Week to bring attention to the programs in place to assist youth in crisis. Safe Place is essential as it connects youth to services when they are in crisis and need help the most. Waterbury has 14 sites, including the city’s fire houses, throughout the city designated as sites for young people experiencing crisis, whether it be homelessness, abuse, neglect or physical violence.

Pictured (from left): Joseph Geary, Waterbury Youth Services staff, including Youth & Family Emergency Services Director Marianne Malanaphy, Director of Program Operations Laura Cummings and Executive Director Kathi Crowe, and on the right, Waterbury Assistant Fire Chief Michael Couture.

Santa’s Workshop Sponsors

On behalf of Waterbury Youth Services and Santa's Workshop, we would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our sponsors and to all of our auction item donors. Their generous contribution and continued support helped to make this year’s event a great success! Santa’s Workshop, together with our caring community, help to brighten the holidays for hundreds of local youth and their families in the Greater Waterbury Area!