COMPASS Youth Collaborative
Hartford, Connecticut, USA
MissionCOMPASS Youth Collaborative (COMPASS) connects to high-risk youth wherever they are. We engage them in relationships to provide support and opportunities that help them become ready, willing, and able to succeed in education, employment, and life.
What We DoCommunity Based Peacebuilders
COMPASS Community Based Peacebuilders work as case managers to program participants within the Hartford Community. Youth are referred to the program through the Hartford Police Department, Hartford Public Schools, Juvenile Probation, other Community Based Agencies, and through our street outreach efforts. We have two centers located in the City, that serve as drop in centers, and a safe place for young people to come and participate in groups and activities with COMPASS staff.
Peacebuilders' case managers, many who themselves are former at-risk youth, mediate conflicts and prevent youth violence through training and relationship building and promoting nonviolent solutions to problems. The program teaches youth life skills to prevent involvement with the juvenile justice system and builds a positive, neighborhood-based coalition of youth.
Once youth are enrolled in the Peacebuilders program, they are assigned a case manager. The initial focus of is on building a trusting relationship between youth and case manager. A more indepth assessment about youth experiences is conducted once trust is established between the participant and their case manager, typically after a month in the program. The in-depth assessment is used to evaluate whether initial program goals established for each youth need to be adjusted that collaborate with them to develop individualized action plans intended to help youth avoid risky behaviors.
The action plan is detailed and allows the youth and his or her case manager to discuss all aspects of the youth's life, focusing on the following domains: Positive Environments and Relationships, Positive Choices and Learning, Positive Identity and Purpose, and Positive Consciousness and Actions. Peacebuilders provide one-on-one case management, small group programming as it relates to youth's goals, home, school, and court visits, conflict mediation, street outreach and crisis response in collaboration with our Street Outreach Team and School Based Peacebuilders. Referrals are made to outside agencies for mental health and other services as needed
Peacebuilders participants typically remain in the program up to four years, or until individual goals have been reached.
School Based Peacebuilders
COMPASS Youth Collaborative employs and oversee Peacebuilders Staff as case managers identified high risk youth within Hartford Public Schools. Students that meet program criteria will be referred to Peacebuilders by school staff. Once assigned to a caseload, individual action plans with goals are created by youth & Peacebuilders staff. Staff are available to meet with students on site throughout the school day, in addition to providing wrap around support both before and after school including home visits and basic needs assessments.
Peacebuilders are available to facilitate groups with identified youth specific to individual needs during the school day and assist in leading restorative circles in collaboration with Crisis Team. Students on caseloads complete regular assessments with staff to demonstrate progress, and referrals are made to outside agencies for mental health and other services as needed. Staff attend any necessary meetings pertaining to youth on their caseload and help to be the liaison between parents and school staff.
In the instance of crisis at the school, Peacebuilders assist in crisis management, de-escalation, and provide follow-up support with all parties involved in partnership with the school. Ongoing standing meetings between school staff and COMPASS Peacebuilders influence school climate, and serve as a mechanism to share information regarding individual students and entire school challenges that can be mediated. Peacebuilders work with youth involved in crisis to support the conflict mediation process and reentry into school day in the instance of disciplinary action (in/out of school suspension).
Peacebuilders staff work in collaboration with school administration and staff to support existing attendance and behavior initiatives at both schools throughout the duration of the school year and during the summer including ongoing standing meetings. Although housed in the school, Peacebuilders also work collaboratively with COMPASS Street Outreach Team and other Community Based Peacebuilders Case Managers on weekends and during times when school is not in session.
Street Outreach Team
Our Peacebuilders Street Outreach Team work directly within the Hartford Community to help mitigate violence, deescalate conflict, and build relationships with the hardest to reach youth through relationships and partnerships within the community and with the other COMPASS Teams.
Components of the program include targeted street outreach: having a presence at public events and parties with potential high risk for violent incidents, and establish presence in hot spots, to prevent violence from bubbling up, response to crisis involving youth, and targeted youth outreach, specifically for youth involved in violence and at risk for retaliation.
The Street Outreach Team works in collaboration with the Hartford Police Department, City of Hartford, and other community partners to keep the community safe, and reduce risk to young people and the community at large. When responding to crisis, the Team helps to secure the scene (hospital and community) by engaging in activities to diffuse the chase in an elevated climate. This may include separating, distracting, or transporting people in conflict at risk to perpetrate or receive retaliation, engaging in conversation with both parties to de-escalate, gather intelligence, and communicate with hospital/police to deepen understanding of conflict, and situation and support family members and refer/connect them to resources.
In this process, eligible youth receive invitation from Peacebuilder to engage in de-escalating conflict and in mediation. The Team removes youth from immediate crisis, engages them in relationship and positive activities they enjoy, and brings them to safety. Many of the hardest to reach youth not ready to be fully engaged in the Peacebuilders program. Our teams works to prepare them to be assigned through a caseload through relentless outreach and relationship building. The goal is prepare youth to participate and successfully complete Peacebuilders program, and to not participate in violence as a victim or perpetrator.