Monthly Archives: May 2017

Youth Services celebrates Vermont Youth of The Year awardee

Bellows Falls, VT–Alexis Harris, 21, of Bellows Falls has been awarded the Youth of the Year Award by the Vermont Youth Development Program and the Vermont Coalition of Runaway & Homeless Youth Programs (VCRHYP), two state entities that work with community organizations such as Youth Services that serve young people in the state. The award was given this year to five young people in Vermont who have transformed their life in a positive way and has given back to their community while demonstrating resilience.

According to Michelle Sacco, Alexis Harris’ case manager at Youth Services, her client has gone in five years from an angry 16-year-old homeless teenager who had very little support in her life from anyone to being a 21-year-old woman with a 3-year-old daughter who works every day to help others in need.

“If someone needs help, Alexis is the first one to drop everything to be there for them, including employers,” stated Sacco who nominated Harris for the award. “Alexis was working two jobs, 6 days a week, often 12-14 hour days because she is not only a reliable, responsible and committee employee,” explained Sacco, “but she wants to take care of herself and her daughter without any assistance!”

In Bellows Falls, Harris performed a myriad of jobs to help those who come to the Drop In Center: looking for assistance with applying for housing, childcare, Reach UP, transportation, and Medicaid, in addition to filling the food shelves. According to Sacco, Harris started there as a volunteer and was recruited to fill a staff position because of her compassion and commitment to the people she serves.

In her nomination, Sacco recalled last year when Harris became a court-appointed guardian to a 17-year old girl who was facing serious drug charges. Harris took this girl in, gave her a home, made sure she made her court appointments, went to school, met with DCF and probation, got a job, had food and clothing and necessities, and stayed away from drugs and alcohol, according to Sacco.

Sacco marveled that Harris was so mature and responsible and focused that she could not only care for herself and her young daughter, but also this 17-year-old who needed a lot of support and supervision. And yet Harris did this and did it well. “This now 18-year-old is successful in large part from the love and care and commitment of a remarkable young woman who selflessly gave up her home, her time and often her sanity to be sure this young woman could be successful and safe,” testified Sacco.

“In my work with Bellows Falls young people I do see resilience, I do see potential, I do see love and courage,” Sacco explained, “but when I see on top of all that someone give up their time, their home, their independence, and their finances to help a young person in need and do so selflessly and with love and unending patience, I have to step back and smile and marvel and give thanks that I have been fortunate enough to not only know this person, but to have them as part of my life and my community,” enthused Sacco.

This winter Harris came full circle, said Sacco, serving as a Resident Advisor for Youth Services’ Shelter in Bellows Falls, in an unpaid, live-in position that deals with emergencies and day-to -day issues which arise with the shelter’s population of homeless youth.

Youth Services’ Bellows Falls office provides case management for youth ages 16-22; Independent Living Skills support, Shelter and Host Homes, JUMP: Just Us Moms Program, Personal Responsibility Education Program. A Runaway and homeless youth Hotline; Juvenile Diversion, Balance and Restorative Justice; RAMP Career-Focused Mentoring; and the Diaper Bank Collaborative.

For more information, contact Youth Services at (802) 460-0398, visit www.youthservicesinc.org or stop in at 22 Bridge St. in Bellows Falls, VT.

 

Youth Services tackles truancy in Windham County schools

Jocelyn York, BARJ Coordinator at Youth Services

Brattleboro—Youth Services has officially hired Jocelyn York as its Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) Coordinator for the organization, a position she has fulfilled on a temporary basis since last year.  In this program, Youth Services works with youth ages 13 through 22 who have been adjudicated in Family Court, are on probation, are at risk of a truancy filing, have Youthful Offender Status, or require additional support.

According to Youth Services’ Executive Director, Russell Bradbury-Carlin, the agency’s BARJ program recognizes that many young people entering the criminal justice system have underlying factors that might lead to the criminal misconduct.

“Early intervention is key to addressing the reasons that kids aren’t showing up for school or have started to get in trouble with the law.  With early intervention we can reduce the likelihood of future involvement in the justice system.  Sometimes, by offering individual or group coaching in conflict resolution, anger management, and other skills, we can help the young person and their parents turn around the situation,” Bradbury-Carlin explained.

York is an integral part of the School Success Program, a collaboration between Youth Services and Windham Southeast Supervisory Union. The program focuses on truancy intervention for students age 13-18. The program works primarily one-on-one with students, but also includes work with families and other involved community providers.

“Jocelyn works from a different stance that the traditional “Truancy Officer”, Bradbury-Carlin stressed, “acting instead as a supportive helper with a positive, proactive and less punitive approach that builds the necessary skills and understanding needed for student and families to make a long-term commitment to education. She looks at all areas of a student and family’s life that contribute to or can help solve the problem.”

York’s supportive case management focuses on reducing stresses at home that might be related to money or work problems, housing issues, health needs, and/or transportation. She works to identify and develop the skills and interests of the young person.

York explains, “We link youth and their families with other community providers that can meet their needs. By getting my clients involved with other established community supports and activities outside of the school, I can help them reduce their life stressors and focus more clearly on what they need to do to get through school. When necessary, I also may help a student switch to another school or academic program that may better fit their needs than the traditional K-12 system.”

According to Bradbury-Carlin, the outcomes of this collaboration are increased school attendance, improved relationships in family and school, improved life satisfaction and self-esteem, increased parent involvement, and improved access and use of resources.

Before joining Youth Services, York had been a mental health worker on the Brattleboro Retreat’s Adolescent Inpatient Unit, a behavioral interventionist in Barre, Vermont for Washington County Mental Health’s early childhood autism program, and a pre-school teacher in Windsor County. York has bachelor’s degrees in Women’s Studies and Liberal Studies from Sonoma State University in California.

To find out more about Youth Services Restorative Justice programs, call Youth Services at (802) 257-0361 or visit www.youthservicesinc.org