OUR COMMUNITY PARTNERS
Council on At-Risk Youth
Youth Violence Prevention
Council on At-Risk Youth (CARY) focuses on youth in the Austin Independent School District with severe disciplinary issues that often result in suspension from school, removal to the disciplinary alternative education program, or removal to the juvenile justice alternative education program. CARY’s Youth Violence Prevention evidence-based program teaches these at-risk youth positive social skills, anger management, empathy, and character education. Students participating in the program show reduced behavioral incidents, improved attendance, and improved grades.
The Impact Austin grant will enable the expansion of CARY’s Youth Violence Prevention program to Paredes Middle School where the organization can serve an additional 100 at-risk youth.
The Impact Austin grant allowed CARY to hire a full-time mental health professional to work with these 100 students, conducting PeaceRox groups and individual counseling at Paredes Middle School. The opportunity to serve these 100 students has had a far- reaching impact, not only in the lives of the youth, who are learning lifelong skills, but also within their families and the community in Austin.
The primary goals for the students include:
a decrease in serious behavioral referral;
a decrease in juvenile justice involvement; and
an increase in attendance and grades.
Data on these topics are collected over the academic year by the CARY Youth Advisor who carefully monitors and tracks student performance in the areas of academics, attendance and behavior. The results were very positive. Of the 100 students served, 64 demonstrated an improvement in grades, 78 demonstrated a reduction in serious discipline referrals on campus, and 55 demonstrated an increase in school attendance.
CARY also collected surveys from parents, teachers, students and campus administration in May to gather anecdotal feedback and qualitative data in regards to the quality of services. Survey questions cover campus impact, student attitude, student behavior, attendance, grades and aggression. Of the surveys collected at Paredes, nearly all administrators scored at 100 percent satisfaction with one indicating a 90 percent satisfaction rate. Of the 34 parent surveys completed, CARY was given a 98 percent satisfaction rate, and received a 96 percent satisfaction rating on the 89 student surveys completed.
Beyond the qualitative numbers, the CARY counselor at Paredes Middle School has formed a strong bond with many of the students she works with who now come to her to discuss difficult situations at home. In addition, several PeaceRox students who are involved in the afterschool learning services component of the program have decided to develop a children’s book for kids at Dell Children’s Hospital that they’ve entitled “Never Give Up.” This student-led initiative is a good demonstration of the empathy training and perseverance participants learn through the CARY program that is exposing them to positive new experiences they would not otherwise have.