WRI is evaluating the implementation and impacts of this initiative and is gathering data on youth and families involved with the program. The Institute will complete focus groups with youth and agency staff to assess the process and implementation of the program, as well as recommendations for improvement.
The Youth for Success (YFS) Initiative in Cumberland County was created to help at-risk youth overcome below-average test scores, high dropout rates, poverty, and gang violence. YFS is a two-year program with the goal of keeping at-risk youth out of the juvenile justice system. The initiative is working with approximately 50 at-risk middle and high school youth from Bridgeton, Millville, and Vineland. The Boys and Girls Club of Vineland is spearheading this initiative and working with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Family Success Centers in Bridgeton and Vineland, as well as the schools and law enforcement agencies from each municipality. The program is designed to connect participating youth and their families with services such as counseling, tutoring, and substance abuse treatment. The initiative aims to 1) keep the youth in school, 2) reduce future negative interactions with law enforcement, and 3) enhance positive social behaviors. Funding for the initiative is provided by the New Jersey Office of Community Justice.