News

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.

2017/18 Annual Report

It has been a challenging year but because of your support, our amazing staff and their perseverance to overcome any challenge given them, Waterbury Youth Services continues to thrive with enthusiasm, impacting youth and families in a positive way. Everyone in the organization works tirelessly each day to create a safe and cheerful environment to those in need, offering various opportunities under the 22 programs we provide. Our After School Linking Academics to Life, Juvenile Justice Programs, helping with homelessness and child abuse, Work Force Innovations, support services for parents and various mentoring programs are just to name a few ways we create brighter futures for our youth and families.

The Board and the organization leadership continue to raise the bar for improving how we do business. We are completing a Strategic Plan effort designed to set realistic and achievable goals for the organization as we look forward. Our focus is to strengthen how we can make the most impact to those who we serve, while being good stewards fiscally with each dollar our donors and funders entrust us with to make the most impact.

Funding of our programs requires fiscal discipline, hard work to secure grants in a very competitive environment, and an increased focus on individual and corporate giving. We can proudly report the organization is sound financially due to the Board of Directors and Executive Team’s fiscal foresight to take control. Our 2018 annual audit again showed positive financial wellness.

Connecticut State budget issues still are real and deep and these uncertain times challenge us each day. So if you are an existing donor, or wish to give for the first time, please visit our website, follow us on Facebook or call to make a donation. There are so many ways your support will help the youth in the community.

The contributions made by donors and volunteers are essential to our mission and we thank you for your generosity. Giving to Waterbury Youth Services offers everyone we serve hope, a meal, a safe place to receive help, skills to secure a job, and a chance for a brighter future.

I enthusiastically thank the Board, all of our donors, volunteers and staff for their unconditional support. It’s only with your help that can we make a positive impact on the lives of many, one life at a time.

Mark E. Lancor
President
2018

Mark E. Lancor

Join Waterbury Youth Council on Feb. 27

Youth councils are an effective way to get youth involved in solving local problems and more actively engaged in the community.  Join Waterbury Youth Council and find your voice through organizing, advocacy and community leadership. All high school age youth are welcome.

First meeting will be held February 27, 2019 and cover:

  • Networking with other students
  • Council Projects & Goals

Swipe Right Night March 12

We invite students ages 9-17 and their families to "Swipe Right Night": A Youth Programs Open House on Tuesday, March 12 from 4-pm at 83 Prospect St., Waterbury.

Jointly hosted by Waterbury  Youth Services' staf and member students, this event is the perfect opportunity to learn more about the agenc's free after-school programs.  Youth will have 15 minutes to observe each program. If they like what they see, they can stay for the duration of the class. If they don’t, they can “swipe right” and move down the hall to observe the next after-school program in session.

Enrollment is free and open for “Linking Academics to Life (LAL)” and “Girls Who Code” for high school students.

  • Linking Academics to Life: College, career and life-readiness after school program for high school teens.
  • Girls Who Code: Based on the nationally acclaimed Girls Who Code program, this new after-school club for high school girls is aimed at closing the gender gap in Information Technology (IT).
  • 4-H Mentoring: This is a year long prevention program for youth ages 9-13 designed to assist them in acquiring knowledge, building character, and developing life skills in a fun learning environment. Program activities: dance, creative arts, karate.

Free refreshments, food, and prizes.  For more information or to RSVP, contact Marianne Malanaphy at 203-573-0264 x320.

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