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Projects: New Mexico Promise for Success Initiative

The Promise for Success Initiative (PSI) was a year-long planning effort to improve services for youth who are at risk of entering or are already involved in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems in Doña Ana County, New Mexico. To achieve this goal, the Center on Youth Justice worked with the PSI steering committee to develop a comprehensive, community-based strategic plan for making services more accessible to at-risk youth and implementing crisis response capacity designed to keep youth from becoming involved in the system. The plan, which was released in 2008, also included a continuum of graduated sanctions for youth who are arrested.

Center on Youth Justice’s Contributions to PSI

In developing the plan, the steering committee drew upon Vera’s research capacity, facilitation skills, and access to best practices. Program highlights include

  • working with local leaders to assess the needs of at-risk or system-involved youth, their families, and local communities. To gain a comprehensive understanding of these needs, project staff conducted a quantitative analysis of administrative system data, interviewed youth and families, surveyed more than 50 service providers, and held focus groups with local stakeholders.
  • helping to plan and convene public meetings to inform community members about the reform initiative and receive their feedback. More than 200 community members attended these meetings—primarily adolescents, their parents, and people who work with youth.

Why This Initiative

Stakeholders in Doña Ana County were concerned that gang activity, poverty, immigration-related issues, and limited access to out-of-school recreational resources were contributing to adverse outcomes for youth. Research showed that in Doña Ana County most services are available only to young people who have already entered the child welfare or juvenile justice systems; preventive resources for youth who are at risk of system involvement are limited. PSI was able to address this challenge by developing concrete plans to increase access to preventive services. Although Doña Ana County is unique, the strategies used and lessons learned there can inform similar efforts in other jurisdictions. 

For more information, contact center coordinator Insiyah Mohammad.

Featured Expert

Former Director, Center on Youth Justice