Posts by Monica Roberto

Breanna

"I tell [kids] to always believe in yourself. Keep going, keep pushing past blocks in the road. Keep moving forward. You build up kids, you don’t break them down. That’s how you reach them. "

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How has Waterbury Youth Services helped you grow?   When I first enrolled in Waterbury Youth Services' after school program, Linking Academics to Life, I was a freshman in high school. I was very shy. I wasn’t comfortable, confident or social at all.  Now, you can’t stop me from talking.

The staff made all the difference. They were always kind and positive. Helpful when I needed it most. I started making new friends.   I became a lot more comfortable speaking with kids and adults I didn’t know. I wanted them to value my opinion so I valued theirs, even if it was very different from mine.  When I interacted with other people, it opened up my mind.

I also wanted to do more.  Making new friends inspired me and gave me the confidence to reach out at school and in the community. I joined Waterbury NAACP Youth Council and Make ‘Em Believe.  We did Open mic nights to get kids more comfortable speaking out. We helped feed the homeless at  GWIM.  We participated in the Hunger Walk.

When I was a freshman, a lot of things were going on that I felt I couldn’t control.  But this program helped me become more confident, have more self esteem. I realized that I was in charge of my life.

Now that you've graduated high school, what's next for you?  When I think about my career, I know I want to work with kids.  I worked as a Summer Camp counselor and 4-H Mentor while at WYS. I showed them what they could do and what they could be.  I told them to always believe in yourself. Keep going, keep pushing past blocks in the road. Keep moving forward.  You build up kids, you don’t break them down. That’s how you reach them. With me, they knew they were seen. That they mattered.  You could say my mentoring style is a direct reflection of how I was mentored at Waterbury Youth Services.

"When I was a freshman, a lot of things were going on that I felt I couldn’t control.  But this program helped me become more confident, have more self esteem. I realized that I was in charge of my life."

Kate

"Relationships turn around lives. Every child who has gone through physical abuse or violent trauma needs a program like CHAP. "

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Program: Community Housing Assistance Program (CHAP), which helps young people who are "aging-out" of DCF foster care to fully develop independent living skills. Case Manager: Tangerine Rhinehart.

What was life like for you before you entered the CHAP program? Brutal. My father is a violent alcoholic and has been my entire life. When I was six years old, he got into a terrible fight with my mother. I decided that night that I was going to protect my mother and sisters from him. So I did.

I became his punching bag so they wouldn't get hurt. I hated going home. Nights I would stay up while he was drunk just to make sure he didn't start any trouble with my family. I was miserable. Angry all the time. I hated the world.

Eventually, I lost hope and didn't care how badly he beat me. I became numb to it all until one day we got into a really bad fight. My face was severely bruised. I was tired of covering it up with make up so I went to high school the next day and my teachers reported the incident. This caused DCF to get involved and lead me to WYS' CHAP program.

How has the CHAP program helped you? Relationships turn around lives. Tangerine did that for me. Sometimes children go through so much pain. We don't realize it until that one adult comes into your life and turns things around. When Tange asked me how she could help, I was like, "What's in it for you?"

But she was patient. She constantly showed up. Even when I told her I didn't need her. Tange taught me what I should and shouldn't be doing, but in a nurturing way. Whether I had questions about school, work, the apartment, life...she was always there to help.

"I became [my father's] punching bag so they wouldn't get hurt. I hated going home. Nights I would stay up while he was drunk just to make sure he didn't start any trouble with my family. "

 

I was 17 when I met her but I acted like a little child. I could only think, "Abuse, Abuse, Abuse." She helped me heal. Helped me get healthy. Helped me grow up. Tangerine showed me another world that I had no idea existed. One with hope. Happiness. A future. I really believe that every child who has gone through violent trauma needs a program like CHAP. Someone who makes that kid feel like no matter what, I'm always going to be here. That makes all the difference.

What's the future look like for you? I currently work and I also go to college. I'm majoring in Psychology. I know my life is in my own hands. I can navigate my own future. I want to take on the world and see how many things I can do and experience.

Zari

"I know that what I do isn't just a job. I am making a difference. I love the fact that I have an impact on someone's life." -Zari

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Program: Career Builders in Health, a Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA)-backed employment program that jump starts careers in health care for young people. Program facilitator: Tracy Radden.

Why did you apply for this program?   My mom was a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), then a nurse. I wanted to follow in her footsteps. I had recently graduated from Waterbury Adult Education but couldn't get a job. No one would even consider me because I had no work experience. So I applied to this program and, fortunately, got accepted.

How has this program helped you? Life was very stressful before I started this program. I was living with my mom. Living off her paycheck. When I got this opportunity, I worked hard to finish it, get CNA certified. I did it. And I was able to provide for my family for the very first time.

Do you have a job? Absolutely. I'm a CNA at Quality Home Care. I started my internship there in December 2018 through Waterbury Youth Services. They hired me full time last May. In October, I got employee of the month.

I know that what I do isn't just a job. I am making a difference. I love the fact that I have an impact on someone's life. I have mostly Alzheimer's and dementia clients. I have a client in Watertown who is full, total care. I have to get her dressed, feed her. Everything. One day her son came home, and she said to him: "Turn out like Zari." I honestly didn't know that she was even still "with us" because she doesn't talk, she doesn't move. To find out that she knows my name, enjoys the care I give and the first words out of her mouth in six months were about me, well, that just felt amazing.

What's next for you? Someday I may be a traveling nurse or start my own home health care company. But for now I'm happy where I'm at. I didn't know how much I would really love this type of work until I started doing it. You guys helped me get my start in everything. And I'm very grateful for it.

CAC Ribbon Cutting

Ribbon Cutting

October 16, 2019

12:30pm

CHILD ADVOCACY

Join us Oct. 16th at 12:30pm (83 Prospect St., Waterbury) for this historic Ribbon Cutting Ceremony marking the expansion of our Child Abuse Interdisciplinary Team to a full-fledged Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) serving Greater Waterbury.

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Open House 2019

Open House

October 15, 2019

4-6pm

EDUCATION, CAREER, CLINICAL & PREVENTION PROGRAMS

Waterbury Youth Services will host an Open House in celebration of its new programs as well as 43 years of service. This free event is open to the public and will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 15 from 4pm-6pm at the agency (83 Prospect St., Waterbury). Light refreshments will be provided.

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ASF Grant Strengthens After School Program

American Savings Foundation

$41,500 grant strengthens After School Program

EDUCATION

A Good High School Goes a Long Way But What Kids Learn Outside the Classroom Can Be Just As Powerful

American Savings Foundation awarded a $41,500 grant to Waterbury Youth Services, Inc. (WYS) for the agency’s flagship after school program for high school students “Linking Academics to Life.”

“Linking Academics to Life (LAL)” is a free college, career and life readiness program for underserved youth in Waterbury that promotes self-awareness, self-discovery and charting a successful life course.

“LAL not only enhances school attendance and success, but it also significantly enhances teens’ Developmental Asset Profile (DAP) test scores”  says Kathi M. Crowe, WYS Executive Director.  The DAP is the most widely used approach to assessing and promoting positive youth development in the United States. It is a measure of student well-being and covers such areas as home, school, community life, sense of achievement, optimism, health, and life skills.

“In the 2018-2019 academic year, 98% of LAL youth reported growth/improvement in their overall DAP scores; 100% of students advanced to the next grade level on time; and 100% of seniors graduated from high school on time,” says Crowe. “We’re incredibly proud of our youth.”

Studies show that when teens are enrolled in after-school programs they are three times less likely to engage in risky behaviors such as juvenile crime, drug use and substance use.

“When they come to WYS, they are in a safe environment where they are mentored by positive role models that help them reach education goals, explore their potential, become more independent, and develop leadership and social skills," says Crowe.

WYS offers one of the few free after school programs for high school students in Waterbury.

In addition, youth from the LAL program will have an opportunity to attend a tour of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the south during the 2019-2020 academic year.
“You can’t be what you can’t see,” says Crowe.  “Many of our youth have not ventured much beyond Waterbury.  This tour gives them the opportunity to experience a broader network, explore a different version of themselves, and see a new path in front of them.”

According to WYS statistics, 97% of LAL youth come from families who live below the federal poverty level; 80% self-identify as youth of color; 52% as Hispanic/Latino.

"This program fills a vital unmet need for Waterbury youth," says American Savings Foundation President Maria Falvo. “We are honored to be a long term partner and supporter of this life-changing program.”

In LAL, youth spend the after school hours on homework, tutoring ,in workshops and participate in 4 diverse, dynamic programs of their choice: Senior Preparation, Woodworking, Journalism, or Entrepreneurship. Students must attend high school daily in order to participate in LAL and maintain a minimum C grade point average. If they fall below a C, the program provides individual tutoring.

LAL youth also participate in themed celebrations, financial literacy workshops, community service, and other activities. Monthly "Family Nights" educate parents on the 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 academics.

Waterbury Youth Services 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. For more information, visit www.waterburyyouthservices.org.

American Savings Foundation is a permanent charitable endowment which provides grants to local nonprofit organizations, in addition to college scholarships to area students. The Foundation is a broad-based funder dedicated to improving the quality of life for the residents of the communities they serve.

"This program fills a vital unmet need for Waterbury youth," says American Savings Foundation President Maria Falvo. “We are honored to be a long term partner and supporter of this life-changing program.”

— Maria Falvo, President
American Savings Foundation

"You can’t be what you can’t see. Many of our youth have not ventured much beyond Waterbury.  This tour gives them the opportunity to experience a broader network, explore a different version of themselves, and see a new path in front of the

"

— Kathi M. Crowe, Executive Director
Waterbury Youth Services

"[This program] not only enhances school attendance and success, but it also significantly enhances teens’ Developmental Asset Profile (DAP) test scores”

— Kathi M. Crowe, Executive Director
Waterbury Youth Services

Help Great Childhoods Happen This April

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Help make great childhoods this April.

On April 10th, the Greater Waterbury Child Abuse Interdisciplinary Team (CAIT) will plant 100 pinwheels at their headquarters at Waterbury Youth Services to raise awareness that April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and to remind residents that services are available for victims.

“The pinwheel is a national symbol of childhood,” says CAIT Director Stacey Rubinfeld. “Each year, we review approximately 100 cases of alleged child abuse so we planted 100 pinwheels to honor each one. Every child deserves a great childhood. Unfortunately, they are sometimes exposed to extreme trauma like child abuse and neglect. Our goal is to support the healthy development of these children and to ensure they are not further victimized by the interventions and systems designed to protect them.”

The CAIT team protects children in the Greater Waterbury area by responding to allegations of child sexual abuse, child physical abuse and serious neglect, as well as domestic minor sex trafficking.

The CAIT draws its strength from the combined knowledge of multiple disciplines brought by team members working co-operatively. Partners include: the states attorney’s office (both Adult and Juvenile), the Dept. of Children and Families, local police departments and State Troop A, trained medical personnel, mental health professionals, victim advocates from Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury and court-appointed by the Office of Victim Services, the Office of Juvenile and Adult Probation and Love 146.

If you have concerns or suspicions that a child is being abused, please call the Department of Children and Families hotline 1-800-842-2288 or your local police department.

In 2008, Prevent Child Abuse America introduced the pinwheel as the new national symbol for child abuse prevention through Pinwheels for Prevention®.

The Greater Waterbury CAIT is recognized as an accredited Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) by the National Children’s Alliance. All forensic interviews and medical examinations are conducted free of charge. CAIT was formed around 1990 and serves the communities of Cheshire, Middlebury, Naugatuck, Prospect, Southbury, Waterbury, Watertown, Wolcott, Woodbury and Troop A Southbury.

 

ION Bank gives $3,000 to support Urgent Client Needs for Homeless Youth

ION Bank Foundation Awards WYS $3000 for Urgent Client Needs for Homeless Youth

Population Served:  Low-income, at-risk youth ages 6-24.

Program: Homeless Youth Resource Center/Youth & Family Emergency Services (YFES)

Location of Population Served:  Greater Waterbury area.

Funds will support Urgent Client Needs for YFES Program, incling: bus passes for school/work/interviews, security deposits for housing, personal hygiene supplies, school training, and work supplies.

About YFES: Primary objective is to provide immediate crisis intervention and counseling services for Waterbury’s most at risk youth with the goals of decreasing the number ofyouth who run away, decreasing youth homeless population, provide SAFE PLACE sites around the community where youth can go to connect with needed services and decreasing need for DCF involvement.

No one can move on to a better lifestyle if they are constantly hungry, do not have the right clothes for an interview, have no money for transportation, no home for themselves  or for their children, etc. Urgent Client Needs is critical to the success of the YFES program.

Prom Project Boutique

Waterbury Youth Services’ Prom Project Boutique: More Than Just A Dress

Celebrating 21 Years of Making Dreams Come True

The Prom Project Boutique
83 Prospect St., Waterbury
Thursday, April 18th,  10am-2pm

This event is free and open to  any high school teen in need of prom attire.

Prom season is almost here.  To make that day as special as possible, Waterbury Youth Services wants offers free prom gowns, shoes, suits and accessories.

“Our Prom Project Boutique program is more than just giving away gowns and accessories,” says Deanna Krzykowksi, WYS’ Prom Project Leader. We empower teens and build their confidence by taking away the financial barriers to participate in this iconic high school experience.”

WYS’s Prom Project Boutique is bursting at the seams with beautiful dresses and suits of all designs and sizes.  All of WYS’ prom attire and accessories will be offered free of charge thanks to the generous donations of formal ware from local bridal shops, businesses and individuals in the community. WYS’ boutique like atmosphere will be set up with personal shoppers and mirrors to assist students in picking their dresses and suits. WYS will also have a vendor area complete with shoes, accessories, and hair and make-up tips.

There are a limited number of registrations available for April 18th. Interested teens can sign up here.

For teens unable to attend the April 18th event, WYS will offer the following Prom Project Boutique hours:

April 22- May 20
Mondays 2:30pm-4:30pm
Tuesdays 3:00pm-5pm.

This is the second year all students (not just girls) are invited to participate in Prom Project Boutique.  WYS was the first organization to host a Prom Project event in the Greater Waterbury  area in 1998.  Since then, WYS has served thousands of teens, ensuring they don’t miss out on high school’s most formal dance.

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Jewish Federation of Western Connecticut Supports Truancy Program

Jewish Federation of Western Connecticut Awards WYS $7500 for Truancy Prevention and Counseling Program

Population Served:  Waterbury youth attending public Elementary, Middle and High School students from all ethnic backgrounds, both male and female, serving the most vulnerable at-risk, low-income population.
Location of Population Served: Greater Waterbury Area.

Truancy is a critical issue in Waterbury’s public schools. Bridge to Success, a community collaborative operating within Waterbury, found that only 67% of Waterbury youth graduate from High School on time compared to 86% across the remainder of Connecticut. In addition, Waterbury has the fifth highest drop-out rate (about 30%) in the state.

WYS’s Truancy Prevention and Counseling Program meets an urgent community need by addressing the reasons for absenteeism and helping youth and their families address the barriers keeping them from regular school attendance, thereby increasing the chance of successful graduation from high school and a chance at becoming solid members of their communities.

The WYS program conducts an initial assessment with the family immediately after receipt of the referral. This takes place in either the family’s home or in the WYS office at a time that is convenient for the family and all pertinent forms/HIPPA are signed at this time. Barriers to school attendance are explored and the family is provided case management to address these barriers through specific steps. A step could be as simple as reminders to parents to set the alarm clock regularly, or to make sure the youth gets to bed by 10:00 p.m. each night, or as complex as identifying and working with issues such as peer pressure and bullying. Case management also includes monitoring the student’s attendance and school performance while maintaining contact with the family, school and other providers, connecting the family with needed services, communicating with school personnel and other involved collateral contacts, attending meetings at school when indicated, and monitoring attendance and the need for more case management. The referral source and school personnel are kept up to date on the youth’s progress in the program and referrals that have been made for the family.

Truanc referrals made by: Waterbury Schools
Program: September 1st through June 30th. May include summer activities. Services are provided Monday through Friday for home and office visits and also utilizes non-traditional hours.