Connecting youth at acute high-risk for violence to effective programs is a critical intervention, and Get IN Chicago is pleased to share a promising update in this area. Between 2015 and 2017, analysis done in conjunction with Chapin Hall and NORC, both at the University of Chicago, showed that the proportion of Get IN Chicago participants who had missed at least 20% of school days more than doubled. And while 18% of program participants in 2015 had an arrest history, that number rose to 59% in 2017.

Get IN Chicago assessments have found that the bulk of local resources meant for violence reduction often go to low-income but high-functioning youth instead of young people with risk factors for violence, such as arrest history or chronic school absenteeism.   In response, Get IN Chicago launched an ambitious plan to increase enrollment of acutely high-risk youth that included:

  • Building partnerships with public agencies such as Cook County Juvenile Probation and the Chicago Police Department;
  • Increasing investment in programs focused on youth victims of violence such as Healing Hurt People-Chicago;
  • Collaborating on dedicated recruitment and outreach efforts with Strengthening Youth through a Network of Care (SYNC) mentors, clinicians, and case managers from organizations such as Youth Advocate Programs and the KLEO Center .

“Reaching high-risk youth populations is far from easy, but our partners and programs have done an exceptional job of stepping up to connect with them,” said Dr. Toni Irving, Executive Director of Get IN Chicago. “These numbers show the power of committed, coordinated efforts and demonstrate a seismic shift in our ability to meet the needs of youth who most stand to benefit from violence prevention programs.”

In addition to recruitment, it’s just as important to ensure that programs are designed with high-risk youth in mind.  While lower-risk youth can benefit from support such as tutoring and light-touch mentoring, effective programs for higher-risk youth should include therapy and mentoring at higher dosages and durations, or increased contact via longer sessions and timeframes.  Get IN Chicago has worked with partners such as MENTOR Illinois, Illinois Collaboration on Youth, and the Eisenhower Foundation to help local organizations fine-tune strategies and increase impact on high-risk youth in their programs.  As a result, not only are more high-risk youth receiving support, but our community is putting its best foot forward to give them opportunities for success.

Last summer, staff from SYNC partner agencies worked on collaborative recruitment strategies and events to boost enrollment of high-risk youth.