FORMATION OF TOGETHER FOR CHILDREN
What is Together for Children?
Together for Children is an innovative collaboration between government, education, business, law enforcement, and justice entities, along with community-based organizations, faith-based institutions, individual community members and investment partners. The mission of Together for Children is to leverage resources, experience and ideas to create data-driven, neighborhood action plans that are intended to prevent youth violence.
When and how did the coalition come to be?
Anchor institutions, including Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Miami-Dade County, the Children’s Trust, the State Attorney’s Office, and the United States Attorney’s Office, first came together in April 2016 at the Historic Hampton House. The mission was to align, leverage and expand their own resources and programs, taking the first step to tackle root causes of youth violence in a proactive way by using data processes to identify the most vulnerable youth. Once anchor institutions considered data and reflected on their own services, they held a public invitation in September 2016 to encourage community members and community-based organizations to join the coalition in developing neighborhood-specific action plans to empower and protect at-risk youth.
Over the weeks that followed, the coalition met in zip codes which data shows have the highest incidence of youth violence. Community planning meetings and follow up working group sessions were then held to develop neighborhood action plans.
The next phase of the work has been focused on continuing to build the framework for neighborhood action plans. We are and will continue to engage youth through listening tours and surveys. We have also expand outreach by using social media and continue engaging community members through meetings with a variety of groups including parents, service providers, and leaders of faith-based organizations, in housing complexes, neighborhood centers, and other areas that data shows are most impacted by youth violence.
Once, based on the collection of all the previously mentioned feedback and ideas, the frameworks for the action plans are developed, all coalition members and the community as a whole will be invited to another series of meetings to continue to add their thoughts, concerns, and ideas to those frameworks.
Ultimately, with the collaboration of all of those previously mentioned, neighborhood action plans will be developed, specific to the needs in north, central and south regions of Miami-Dade.
Who is in charge?
The communities most affected by youth violence, in partnership with anchor institutions.
Who are the partners?
- Community-Based Organizations
- Community Members
- Faith-Based Organizations
- Florida Department of Children and Families, Circuit Eleven
- Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Circuit Eleven
- Foundation for New Education Initiatives
- Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce
- Higher Education Institutions
- Juvenile Division of the 11th Judicial Circuit Court Miami-Dade County
- Miami-Dade County Public Defender’s Office
- Miami-Dade County Public Schools
- Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office
- Municipal Partners
- The Children’s Trust
- The Miami Foundation
- United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Florida
- United Way of Miami-Dade
How is this initiative different than previous anti-violence efforts?
Together for Children is uniting anchor institutions, community-based organizations, faith-based institutions and community members around the common goal of breaking the cycle of youth violence that is plaguing many of our communities. The Together for Children coalition is innovative in that, for the first time, anchor institutions and the community are coming together to develop comprehensive, data-driven solutions that focus on preventing youth violence before it occurs.
TOGETHER FOR CHILDREN DATA
What are the root causes of youth delinquent/violent behavior?
Research in psychology has shown that multiple risk and protective factors are associated with a higher probability of a child being impacted by violence, either as a victim or perpetrator. Some of these root causes:
- Living in high-risk neighborhoods
- Poverty and social distrust
- Parent and family factors
- Adverse childhood experiences
- Personality/Behavioral issues
- Access to guns
- Social rejection and hierarchies
What are the root causes of youth repeat offenses?
According to assessment and risk level instruments, such as the Youth Level Severity (YLS), the following additional risk factors are associated with re-offending:
- Prior and current offenses
- Peer relations
- Substance abuse
- Lack of organized activities
- Antisocial/pro-criminal behavior
How is data sharing taking place?
Only with parental consent will information on individual youths be used for referrals.
TOGETHER FOR CHILDREN GOALS
What types of direct services will be offered for vulnerable youth and their families?
Services will be determined through the creation of data-driven, neighborhood action plans, developed over a multi-step process that includes a series of community planning meetings, workgroup sessions and individual outreach. In addition, some coalition partners will expand holistic, research-based interventions to serve vulnerable youth. Through comprehensive care coordination, students and families may be referred to programs that have been shown to be effective. Examples of practices to support the Together for Children mission include Multidimensional Family Therapy, Functional Family Therapy and Community Action Teams.
Funding investments - Together for Children
In order for anchor institutions to be effective partners with community members and organizations, they needed to first identify what services would be necessary to create a system that could serve youth and families holistically. The anchor institutions met to maximize, leverage and align resources and services to develop a comprehensive care coordination system with enough capacity to effectively serve identified youth.
Additional funding is also being coordinated for direct services. Because breaking the cycle of youth violence requires the entire community to join forces, the anchor institutions sought to put in place a process by which community members and organizations could contribute and implement their own ideas. With a strong commitment to community-driven solutions by community members themselves, the anchor institutions wanted to be effective partners and commit resources to the implementation of neighborhood-specific action plans.
How will you focus on FAMILIES, not just kids/teens?
Through the development of community-based neighborhood action plans, Together for Children will formulate a multi-level response to address the needs of the child and the child’s family. Some of the services to which youth may be referred are holistic and intended to focus on children and their families.
How will you avoid potential stigma or privacy concerns of identified, vulnerable youth and their families?
We understand the need to protect the privacy of youth and families. Protection of privacy is our utmost concern, which is why only well-trained professionals will be working with vulnerable youth. No data will be shared amongst agencies without express permission of the youth’s parent or legal guardian.
How will this initiative address the repeat offender criminals who are on the streets killing children NOW?
As a community, we understand that many of the youth involved in these types of incidents are known to the criminal justice system. That is why it is essential that we are working in collaboration with our criminal justice partners, who are assisting in identifying repeat offenders, their needs, and the most effective supports and interventions.
How long before you anticipate this work having a real impact on communities?
The creation of the neighborhood action plans will lead to increased services that will be implemented in the weeks and months to come. We are committed to evaluating the work and making any necessary adjustments to ensure that we are effectively serving the identified youth.