June 9, 2014 – Several seasoned non-profit organizations and community partners are joining forces to help local youth avoid the pull of gang-life, thanks to a $52,500 grant from the County of Sonoma’s AB 114 fund.  Boys & Girls Clubs of Marin & Southern Sonoma Counties (BGCMSSC) will provide core afterschool services; $10,000 of the grant is allocated to Sunny Hills Services to provide weekly youth development groups to reach referred at-risk youth before they become involved in criminal behaviors, and $5,000 of the grant is allocated to the Functional Family Therapy Program conducted by Petaluma People Services Center.

The collaboration will work with 83 identified at-risk youth after school in “Delinquency Prevention through Targeted Outreach Programs,” for 8 of BGCMSSC’s Petaluma Clubs. The goal is to lead youth away from self-destructive and other negative behavior and towards positive alternatives.

Delinquency Prevention through Targeted Outreach is a comprehensive initiative that uses effective techniques and strategies to direct at-risk youth to positive alternatives. This effort begins with mobilizing community leaders and Club staff to discuss local gang issues, to design a community-wide strategy and clarify specific roles. Through a referral network with courts, police, probation, other juvenile justice agencies, schools, social service agencies and community organizations, as well as through direct outreach efforts, young people identified as at-risk are recruited and mainstreamed into Boys & Girls Club program activities as a diversion from anti-social gang activity.

Once in the Club, youth are integrated into regular programs in five core program areas, including the Arts, Sports, Fitness and Recreation, Health and Life Skills, Character and Leadership Development and Education and Career Development.  Case management is an integral part of the initiative, with proper record keeping and documentation to ensure targeted individuals receive appropriate services through the Club and referral services. On a monthly basis, staff members’ document progress on a participant’s goals, such as Club involvement, school performance, involvement, involvement with the juvenile justice system, family involvement, referral status and significant problems or achievements.

According to David Solo, President & CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Marin & Southern Sonoma Counties, “We are excited about the prospect of teaming up with successful non –profit organizations like Sunny Hills Services and Petaluma People Services Center to identify at-risk youth and steer them into positive alternatives. We are grateful to the County of Sonoma, including the Sonoma County Sherriff’s Department, Sonoma County District Attorney and Sonoma County Probation for all of their support”.

Sunny Hills Services’ Community Engagement & Youth Development (CE&YD) Program, provides an array of school and community-based services designed to prevent at-risk youth, ages 11-18, from becoming involved in criminal activity by increasing their involvement in their education, personal development, and community.  Services include mentoring; youth development groups; anger management classes; academic/vocational support; and recreational activities designed to support personal development goals. The youth development groups for this project will be held once a week for ten weeks per quarter, for three total quarters.

CE&YD’s Program Director, Bob Florez, M.A., will provide leadership and supervision for the program.  Bob has more than 18 years of experience working with at-risk youth and he has consulted on gang-related issues to a number of local agencies, including the County of Sonoma, and police departments in Sonoma and Marin Counties, as well as Sheriff’s Department in both Sonoma and Marin Counties.

Mary Denton, CEO of Sunny Hills Services said, “This generous grant from the County of Sonoma is so beneficial for both at-risk youth and our community.  It allows our program, CE&YD, to reach more vulnerable young people in their communities and provide them with additional support through structured after-school programs. We’re optimistic that this collaboration will exceed our objectives and that we will continue to team with Boys & Girls Clubs of Marin & Southern Sonoma Counties, a wonderful organization with a long, strong history of offering life-changing programs for youth.”

Functional Family Therapy is a short-term, high quality intervention program with an average of 12-14 sessions over a 3-5 month period. Services are conducted in both clinic and home settings, and can also be provided in a variety of settings including schools, child welfare facilities, probation and parole offices/aftercare systems, and mental health facilities.

The intervention program itself consists of five major components in addition to pretreatment activities: Engagement in change; Motivation to change; Relational/Interpersonal Assessment and planning for Behavior change; Behavior Change; and Generalization across behavioral domains and multiple systems.

Petaluma People Services Center (PPSC) will provide Functional Family Therapy to Club members and families in the Delinquency Prevention thorough Targeted Outreach Imitative. PPSC utilizes highly trained and certified FFT clinicians.

Elece Hempel, Executive Director of Petaluma People Services Center said, “this collaboration will help to strengthen the safety-net that has been created though our longstanding partnerships, by adding Functional Family Therapy we will be able to engage, motivate and change behaviors with the teens but also with their family members.”

The Gang Prevention through Targeted Outreach collaborative will take place from August 20, 2014 – May 29, 2015. 

— Collaboration made possible through generous Sonoma County grant —