Friday, March 11, 2011

Find us on Facebook!

The Minnesota Youth Intervention Programs Association is currently working to create and introduce a new interactive website. This will be a very resource intensive undertaking for YIPA and our ability to spend the time necessary to properly support the KidsChange blog will be limited. So, for the time being, we have decided to temporarily discontinue posting to our blog and instead are going to focus our attention on connecting with followers on Facebook.

If you value the important work that YIPA does, and would like to stay abreast of events, training opportunities and issues that impact youth in Minnesota, then we encourage you to connect with us on Facebook. And of course, stay tuned for the launch of our new website!

Friday, March 4, 2011

March Member of the Month: Amicus

According to the American Civil Liberties Union (link:, in 2008 there were more than 14,000 girls incarcerated in the United States, a number that has been rapidly increasing in recent decades. Most of those girls are arrested for minor, nonviolent offenses and probation violations. Despite good intentions of helping the girls, many of them are re-traumatized because the majority of them have been prior victims of abuse. Consequences such as solitary confinement, routine strip searches, and other forms of interventions sometimes produce unintended outcomes. Instead of helping girls cope with the trauma, occasionally youth detention centers further traumatize girls.

In spring 2010 YIPA member, Amicus published the Amicus Girls Study. It examined the thoughts, feelings and experiences of those involved with girls in the juvenile justice system, and of the girls themselves. According to their review of the literature, a history of sexual or physical abuse is common among girls in the juvenile justice system, and often such victimization contributes to female juvenile delinquent behavior. Girls in the juvenile justice system are also more likely than boys to experience neglect and abuse within their families. Amelia Goodyear, Youth and Mental Health Director at Amicus echoed that message as we talked in depth about her work with teen girls in the Radius Program.

Amelia has conducted weekly groups in both Ramsey and Dakota Counties and provided individual therapy for girls in the Ramsey County detention and community programs. In working with these groups, she has found that a significant number of them have experienced trauma in their past, which is something that they address in group sessions. The goal of the group is for girls come to terms with trauma and mental health issues, develop healthier relationships, link to positive assets, and that they are empowered with self-regulation skills and positive relationships. Ideally, girls involved in this program will develop the skills and coping mechanisms needed to help them avoid further contact with the juvenile justice system.

While the Radius program has proven beneficial in helping many of these girls, policy makers are encouraged to allocate more resources for prevention and early intervention programs. Helping these girls at the first sign of a problem is our best bet for keeping them out of the more costly juvenile justice system. Early interventions programs have proven time and time again that they work. It’s time to act fiscally prudent and make wise investments in prevention and early intervention. It works and it’s the right thing to do!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Update on the Youth Intervention Program bill (HF370)

Late last Friday, YIPA’s Executive Director, J. Scott Beaty learned that a hearing on the Youth Intervention Program bill (HF370) had been scheduled before the House Public Safety & Crime Prevention Policy & Finance Committee. With less than a week to prepare, YIPA staff hurried to pull together materials and supporters to ensure legislators understand the importance of early intervention. They knew that a lot was at stake this Legislative session because the YIP funding must be passed through this committee. HF370 asks to maintain the current funding level of $1.6 million per year, which funds 57 early intervention programs throughout the State of Minnesota. Word spread quickly, and on Wednesday morning, the room was packed with YIPA members, board members, colleagues, constituents, youth and program supporters who came together to rally for the cause.

Carrying the bill (HF370), Republican Steve Smith emphasized the importance of investing in programs now that have been proven to save the state money in the long run. He made several references to the Social Return on Investments (SROI) and answered questions from his cohorts with finesse, confidence and a great deal of knowledge. He is a true champion for kids.

YIPA presented a strong group of testifiers that included those who were impacted both personally and professionally by a Youth Intervention Program. J. Scott Beaty acquainted Legislators with the bulk of information on the Youth Intervention Program, and his urgent message was echoed by James C. Backstrom, Dakota County Attorney; Craig Woolery, Director of Public Safety from the Cottage Grove Police Department; Paul Ramsour, Supervisor of the Life Transitions Program at YouthLink; and Giovanni Alvarado, a 17 year old student at St. James Public School who credited his personal change from getting in trouble to now wanting to become a lawyer on his participation in the St. James Youth Intervention Program. Everyone who shared their story was well received and members of the Committee were fully engaged and interested in the importance of early youth intervention.

Because of dedicated and supportive members, colleagues, constituents and program supporters, YIPA is now one step closer to achieving our mission: To ensure that early intervention youth programs are embraced and well equipped to provide high quality and cost effective early intervention youth services.

Thank you to everyone who came out to show your support!

Friday, February 11, 2011

DISORDERED {thy name is teenager} after YIPA's Quarterly Meeting

MN Youth Intervention Programs Association (YIPA) and The Mentoring Partnership of Minnesota are excited to present a dynamic afternoon training on Friday March 11, 2011. We will be brining in actors from the Blank Slate Theatre to perform the play DISORDERED {thy name is teenager}! This LIVE performance is designed to be a training opportunity for mentoring professionals, youth workers, mentors, and anyone else that works with and cares about young people. The performance is a mixture of spoken word with acting out monologues of various different characters that are coping with some of the common struggles faced by American teens. The cast will talk about disorders such as depression, OCD, Anxiety, eating disorders, ODD and ADHD, as they pertain to their daily lives. This production aims to bring a perspective on teenagers that the media often ignores: that teens, like adults, suffer with mental disorders. A Q&A session with the youth actors, writers and director, and then small group discussions on topics presented in the play will follow up the performance.

“The show orients the audience to the world of teens, the challenges they encounter, and the mental health issues/concerns and stigma some may face as a teen. The young artists provide moving, touching performances. It was an amazing show! Thoughtful and interesting!"
~ Fringe Festival audience member

The actors of DISORDERED have made appearances at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, the Minnesota Mentoring Conference, Fringe Festival, the Minnesota Association of Marriage and Family Therapy Conference, the Lowry Lab Theater and more! Register to be a part of this exciting and informative event!

*YIPA members who are interested in attending this event should note that it immediately follows our March 11 Quarterly Meeting that will be held at Children's Home Society & Family Services in St. Paul. The Quarterly Meeting will run from approximately 10:00am-12:00pm with lunch served shortly thereafter. We will then encourage interested attendees to move to Jewish Community Center of the Greater Saint Paul Area which is about a 15 minute drive from the location of the morning training. Please contact Rachel Ayoub at for additional information.

Friday, February 4, 2011

An Urgent Message from Senator John Marty

In yesterday’s Mille Lacs Messenger, Senator John Marty, a member of the Minnesota Senate, discussed in great detail the importance of supporting early intervention programs for youth. He also made reference to the Social Return on Investments (SROI) data collected and distributed in 2007. Below is the article in its entirety:

It is a reality that the enormous state budget deficit will require significant budget cuts and tax increases. Yes, I know that Republican legislators claim they will not accept any new taxes, but their first budget proposal contained significant tax increases on renters and is projected to cause large property tax increases on homeowners and businesses.

Governor Dayton campaigned for office saying that he is going to increase income taxes. So, although there will be a struggle over which taxes to raise, taxes will go up. 

Likewise, for budget cuts. Few areas of the budget will remain untouched. Despite many cuts in recent years, some parts of the budget are projected to continue growing rapidly, making them targets for even deeper cuts. 

This is where we need to change our perspective. First we need to recognize that deep cuts in programs and services are not simply a matter of accounting; these programs serve real people with real needs. For a family fighting to avoid homelessness or for people with disabilities who need health care services to live independently, cuts are not painless. Cuts bleed.

In addition to causing real human suffering, some cuts are fiscally irresponsible and cost taxpayers more in the long run. Cuts that lead to higher crime rates, reduce the quality of education for students, or leave sick people without healthcare, hurt Minnesota's future. 

One example is Youth Intervention Programs. Minnesota provides funding to 57 local organizations around the state that work with at-risk young people, intervening because of truancy, drug use, homelessness, or when they are in court for shoplifting or other crimes. Youth Intervention Programs (YIP) work with about 25,000 young people each year - counseling, educating, mentoring, and coaching them - enabling them to remain with their families, instead of in costly foster care, correctional institutions or residential treatment. These YIP grantees are community-based programs, where the participants live at home but meet with a mentor or counselor in the program. A survey of participants showed big progress for most of the youth - over half had improvement in school attendance and grades, and over 80% had no further interactions with the law since entering the program. 

In a benefit-cost analysis conducted by Wilder Research, economist Paul Anton calculated, using conservative assumptions, that the typical YIP program provides almost $5 in benefits for every dollar spent, with $2.33 of those savings going to taxpayers through reduced crime and court costs, and lower human services and school costs. 

That's not an 8 or 10% return on investment but a 233% return! That dwarfs the level of savings that legislators and governors hope to obtain when we work to make state government more efficient.

With that type of savings, it would be wise for the state to make sure that these youth intervention services are available to all at-risk youth. Yet only a fraction of those youth have access to the programs, and the state appropriation for YIP was reduced from $2.4 million in the previous budget cycle to $1.6 million now.

Over the past decade, under the push for lower taxes, there are many programs and services like YIP that have been inadequately funded, or have actually been cut. Our current budget crisis is largely the result of Minnesota's failure to invest in prevention. We are paying the price for past short-sightedness. 

Economists and demographers tell us that the state will have even greater budget difficulties in the future. We have an aging population, and state revenues are not projected to keep up with the growth in spending needed to address those growing public needs. Some of the budget cuts that are likely this year may balance the state books now, but only make the future budget problems worse.

We will have to make many budget cuts, and none of them will be easy. But when doing so, we cannot afford to cut Youth Intervention Programs or numerous other services - such as early childhood education, preventive healthcare, chemical dependency treatment, and teen pregnancy prevention, which have a strong return-on-investment.

The reality is that it will cost taxpayers less overall if we spend more on these services now. Let's not keep repeating the mistakes of the past.

Friday, January 28, 2011

January Member of the Month: Lee Carlson Center for Mental Health & Well-Being

Does the name Central Center for Family Resources ring a bell? How about Lee Carlson Center for Mental Health & Well-Being? Whether you call them by their former name or their current name, both are synonymous with exceptional and affordable services for families, children, youth, and adults in our community. I (Rachel) recently spent part of my afternoon with Patty Halvorson, Lee Carlson’s Marketing and Development Manager and a recipient of YIPA's 2010 Friends of Youth Leadership Award for Innovative Funding. The third Friday of each month, Lee Carlson Center hosts a “Lunch & Learn Tour,” where participants can meet staff, volunteers, board members and someone directly impacted by their services. I took part in this month’s “Lunch & Learn Tour” and could not believe all the phenomenal ways they are boosting the health and wellness of our communities.

Lee Carlson Center for Mental Health & Well Being has a Youth Intervention Program that offers an early intervention Peer Support Program onsite at schools in Anoka County. This program addresses a significant gap in how our community supports the healthy development of youth. As a prevention and early intervention program, their services reach youth before a crisis occurs (e.g. violence against oneself or another) or before the youth's behaviors lead to interactions with the juvenile justice system. This program works with youth who are beginning to engage in behaviors that are of concern to parents and teachers. These behaviors range from depression to truancy to shoplifting and vandalism to self-cutting to experimenting with alcohol and other substances. At the high school level, many of the students are self-referred: They know they are struggling and they want a better and healthier life. Most of the youth participating in the School-based Peer Support Program are from families living in or near poverty. Consequently, families are not charged for services provided. Therefore, the Lee Carlson Center must rely on community support to be able to reach and work with at least 300 students each school year.

Regardless of the specific behavior, most often what these youth need is a supportive environment with someone guiding them in exploring feelings and in developing positive decision making skills. This program provides that needed support. Conducting the program onsite at the school allows the services to be fully integrated into the student's day-to-day lives. They know their School-based Peer Support Program changes the lives of youth because at the end of each school year, the majority of participating youth report improvements in their behaviors. This includes improved relationships with peers, parents and authority figures, as well as being better able to stay on task (e.g. completing school work) and having greater self-esteem. Parents and teachers concur with the reports from youth. The program most recently received an 'outstanding' rating from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Youth Intervention Program.

Aside, from the School-based Peer Support Program, the Lee Carlson Center offers an array of services including, but not limited to: marriage and family counseling, play therapy for children, parenting classes and bariatric psychological assessments. There are three convenient locations for services – Fridley, Blaine and Spring Lake Park. Although each site does slightly different work, they all strive to reach lower income clients and pride themselves on being the only organization in the northern suburbs that provides mental health services for all age groups. For more information, I would highly encourage you to attend a Lunch & Learn Tour, or if you’ve got time on April 9th, head to Anoka High School to take part in Anoka County’s Got Talent, a fundraising event you wouldn’t want to miss! Click here to become a fan of their facebook page, and show your support for youth and families struggling with emotional and behavioral issues.

Monday, January 17, 2011

2011 Update on the Legislature by Executive Director, Scott Beaty

Wow! What two years will do in the ever-changing political world! Not only has the
Federal political landscape changed but so has Minnesota’s!

Minnesota is facing a $6.2 billion deficit, and after many years of budget deficits there is no low hanging fruit. This means cuts to government supported programs will be deep and sharp even if the Governor and Legislature can come to some agreement on raising revenues. In order to keep the Youth Intervention Program and other youth programming from being severely reduced or eliminated we all have our work cut out for us. It is critical that we educate legislators about the proven benefits of early intervention programs.

The first thing I want all of you to know is that this is probably going to be the toughest legislative session we will have since former Governor Ventura tried to eliminate the Youth Intervention Program. The YIPA membership fought hard and strong that session and we were able to save the program but with a reduction in funding. Since that time we have been able to increase the funding only to have it reduced the next biennium because of deficits within the State budget. I can’t stress enough how important it is going to be for the YIPA membership to contact their legislators (email works but a personal phone call or face to face meeting is better) and ask them to support the Youth Intervention Program by ensuring that the current base funding of $1.6 million per year be maintained. Remember, the Youth Intervention Program Social Return on Investment (SROI) is our best ally and every legislator you meet with should get a copy of this report with you highlighting the cost savings the research has found. We will soon be getting the YIP outcome data from the Office of Justice Program within Public Safety and this too can be a tool you can and should use to show legislators that not only does the YIP save money but it has measurable results. If you are unsure who are your State legislators, click here.

Another important action I hope everyone reading this takes is to plan to attend the Rally for Youth Day at the Capitol on Thursday, March 3. This is the time for you and your constituents (your youth) to be in St. Paul talking with your legislators about the importance of the youth intervention program in your community. The Youth Rally Day is sponsored by the Youth Policy Alliance. Click here for an application to participate in this event. If you have taken part in the rally in the past, you will notice a couple changes that have been made for the 2011 rally. The first major change is that participants will not be meeting at the Kelly Inn for pre-rally training; instead, rally preparations will be communicated to adult leaders through live webinar and it is the responsibility of those leaders to disseminate this information to their youth. Applicant deadline to participate in the rally is January 21. Even if you cannot bring a group of youth to the event, I hope you will attend the noon rally and plan to meet with your legislators.

Remember, the world is run by those who show up!

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