Systems-Impacted Youth: Skills for Life
This project will expand our work with young people in East LA and Pasadena who are re-entering from criminal justice settings and those aging out of foster care. We will implement a life-skills curriculum to help participants access housing, education, and employment in their communities; educate them about harm reduction methods related to drug and alcohol use; and offer fun, pro-social activities where they can develop an alternative peer group that supports their health and wellness.
What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?
Support for Foster and Systems-Impacted Youth
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?
Expand existing project, program, or initiative
What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?
People released from incarceration face a risk of opioid overdose 10 times greater than the general public and nearly two-thirds of all U.S. adults in custody have a substance use disorder. Young people aging out of foster care are also high risk: 40% will become unhoused within 18 months; 81% of young men will become incarcerated; 71% of young women will become pregnant before age 21, with their children placed in foster care themselves, perpetuating the cycle. These vulnerable young people need special support to avoid adverse outcomes while becoming economically and emotionally self-sufficient. YPR's programs enhance behavioral health and mental well-being by focusing on the four dimensions that all young adults need to thrive: health, home, community, and purpose. By empowering participants to become more engaged in their life-planning through positive goal setting, harm reduction, and leadership development, YPR equips young people to take charge of their futures.
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
YPR chapters in East LA and Pasadena will implement harm reduction education and supply distribution; life-skills curriculum programs; and pro-social events so systems-impacted youth and young adults can find an alternative peer group that supports their health, wellness, and upward mobility. Events will teach harm reduction as an approach to preventing overdose improving physical, mental, and social wellbeing. Each participant will be given free naloxone and fentanyl test strips as well as information about other strategies such as syringe exchange programs, and "never use alone" initiatives to reduce overdose deaths. YPR will also provide a life-skills curriculum program for up to 75 participants annually at both locations (East LA and Pasadena). YPR's curriculum addresses life planning around multiple domains such as: education, housing, employment, personal finances, leadership, and recovery messaging. After completing the curriculum, participants are better able to set goals for themselves such as going back to school or getting a job; improve their understanding of personal finances; and are more dedicated to their behavioral health and wellness. The chapters will offer pro-social activities such as bowling, hiking, paintball, etc. on a monthly basis and will implement all-recovery meetings that are welcoming of all recovery pathways on a weekly basis. All activities will be offered in both English and Spanish and are 100% free of charge to participants.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
In the short term, systems-impacted youth in East LA and Pasadena will access peer support services that meaningfully improve their health and wellness. People will return to school and/or find employment; be better equipped to prevent opioid overdose and overdose deaths; will report improved behavioral health outcomes such as fewer reoccurrences of substance use, reduced problematic substance use, and/or negative impacts from substance use. In the long-term, YPR hopes to expand its base among systems-impacted young people in East LA and Pasadena, particularly among LatinX participants. By becoming better-known as a resource for those with prior criminal justice involvement and those aging out of the foster system, YPR can offer help and support when and where it's needed most, reducing recidivism, overdoses and overdose deaths, creating more resilient young adults who are better equipped to make positive decisions and take action to improve their futures.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
Since January, YPR has implemented harm reduction trainings for over 100 individuals in East LA and Pasadena, increasing the number of people who can protect themselves and/or a loved one from the harms associated with drug use and overdose deaths. The Inland Empire Chapter held 7 pro-social activities for 98 participants including movie nights, holiday parties, and basketball tournaments in collaboration with Youth Moving On, which serves youth aging out of the foster system. YPR's East LA Chapter collaborated with Homeboy Industries and MELA Counseling Center to provide 7 pro-social activities for 227 young people, including those with lived criminal-justice involvement. YPR also started implementing the Recovery Capital Index in January, an online, evidence-based tool that provides a more holistic picture of participants' wellbeing, measuring improvements in areas like social support, healthy lifestyle, housing, education, and employment.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 250