It's a proud moment for all of us here at Waterbury Youth Services as we celebrate being named the Connecticut Youth Services Association (CYSA) Award for Program of the Year.
Receiving the CYSA Program of the Year award for our Out-of-School Suspension (OSS) program is more than an honor for us at Waterbury Youth Services—it's a beacon of what's possible when community, care, and commitment come together. In Connecticut, institutions such as Youth Service Bureaus (YSBs) serve as a backbone to our communities. Guided by the General Statue section 10-19m, YSBs collaborate across towns and cities, ensuring a cohesive support system for children, youth, and their families. The core mission is simple yet profound: to guide the younger generation toward growth, enabling them to engage effectively within their communities.
Our journey began with a vision to reshape the narrative for youth caught in the cycle of out-of-school suspensions. In May 2021, after discussions with staff from Waterbury Public Schools, we set out to confront this challenge not with punitive measures, but with an approach rooted in understanding, support, and engagement. Our program was designed to re-engage students in their educational journey, offering tailored academic guidance and behavior support strategies.
The results speak for themselves. Last year, we embraced 127 referrals and proudly saw 90% of these students avoid any further suspensions. It is not just about numbers; it's about the positive turn we've witnessed in these young lives.
Our expansion from one middle school initiative to a program spanning four schools demonstrates the demand and effectiveness of our method. Every day, we welcome 5 to 12 students, guiding them to align with their academic work and navigate their social environments constructively.
This recognition underscores the collaborative effort of our team, the students' perseverance, and the community's support. As we celebrate, our focus remains steadfast on the future—One Life at a Time.
Learn more about our Out-of-School Suspension (OSS) program here.