Youth Services Center
The Youth Services Center
youthSpark’s new Youth Services Center is designed to bridge many of the profound gaps that still exist in Atlanta’s capacity to connect at-risk, abused, and exploited youth with life-changing services. Not only is the Center designed to help transform the lives of at-risk, abused, and exploited girls and boys, but through the research we conduct, it will help us better understand what is happening to children and what we can do to create evidence-based services that most effectively support them.
Our overall goal for the Center is articulated in our change statement which reads: “Sexually abused and exploited youth who receive evidence-based clinical and community-based services as part of a safety net are less likely to experience further sexual abuse and exploitation; more likely to achieve positive youth development outcomes; and become a positive peer influence and advocate.”
The overall objectives for the Youth Services Center include:
- Screen for current and unresolved prior exposure to abuse and exploitation
- Provide case-managing advocates who mentor and oversee services for the Center’s youth
- Create service referrals to trained, credentialed partners who are positioned to address individual and family vulnerabilities
- Provide funding to cover gaps and shortfalls in connecting youth with needed services
The Youth Services Center is also designed to achieve positive impact above and beyond the lives of the young people it serves directly. The Center will play to the strengths and history of youthSpark in our work to affect the lives of at-risk, abused, and exploited youth at a broader systems level:
- Research: youthSpark’s research team will routinely analyze youth assessment data collected by the Center, including post-service follow-up results to identify evidence-based practices. In addition to measuring youth outcomes from services, we will also use data to uncover emerging trends in exploitation and abuse through studies conducted annually.
- Training: The Center will serve as a platform for youthSpark to train youth-serving organizations and public agencies on evidenced-based best practices identified through the Center’s research data. Service providers who receive funded referrals from the Center will be required to be certified by youthSpark in key practice areas, particularly early intervention approaches to addressing abuse and exploitation. We will also use the Center as a platform for training law enforcement and CHINS (Children in Need of Services) referrers (e.g., social workers) on how and why to use CHINS instead of arrest/adjudication.
- Advocacy: youthSpark has an excellent track record of legislative advocacy success, and operating the Youth Services Center will systematically enhance our advocacy leverage. By combining the Center’s ongoing research data on abuse and exploitation of youth in Atlanta with compelling “real life” stories from the trenches, youthSpark will be able to identify and affect necessary legislative changes more effectively than ever before.