The Relentless Youth Worker Pilot Project
Gender: Mixed (male and female)
Population served: Adult offenders; Youth in contact with law enforcement (and/or at risk)
Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 0
Continuum of intervention: Secondary crime prevention; Tertiary crime prevention
The project involved five specially trained Relentless Youth Workers who connected with high risk youth, carrying out “interruptions with a purpose”. The intent of these connections was to build trusting, long-term relationships through relentless, regular, meaningful interactions. As this occurred, workers helped youth in accessing existing and emerging youth programs or services to meet the youth’s specific needs and interests.
The main goals of the Relentless Youth Workers Pilot Project for the youth involved are to:
- Demonstrate increased positive activities and peer groups;
- Show increased use of conflict management skills;
- Show a stronger sense of community and belonging;
- Return to or remain in school;
- Obtain part-time or full-time employment; and
- Graduate from high school or obtain a GED.
The appropriate clientele for the Relentless Youth Workers Pilot Project are 14-24 year old youth of both genders deemed to be at-risk or high-risk, not participating in school or work, often involved with the justice system, demonstrating antisocial behavior, and lacking supports to make positive changes in their lives.
The core components of the Relentless Youth Workers Pilot Project include the following:
- Relentless Youth Workers were on call with their youth clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week;
- The Relentless Youth Workers Pilot Project utilized Prochaska and Velicer’s Stages of Change Model. Developed initially in the late 1970s and early 1980s by two researchers and the University of Rhode Island, the stages of change model has been successfully applied to changing a broad range of behaviours, including those commonly associated with youth at risk. YOUCAN Youth Services adapted the Stages of Change Model as its theory of change to guide its work with at-risk youth. In its model, youth at risk will typically move through, knowingly or unknowingly, six stages on their way to making intentional efforts to improve their lives and then sustain these changes; and
- The project instilled an increased awareness of the stages of change in which the youth were developing, as well as the support they needed.
Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:
- Organizational requirements: YOUCAN is an organization based out of Ottawa, with a division located in Edmonton. The Edmonton office has become well known in the community for serving at-risk youth.
- Partnerships: Youth Canada Association (YOUCAN) Ottawa and YOUCAN Edmonton.
- Training and technical assistance: The Project Manager reinforced common Stages of Change definitions with the Relentless Youth Workers, resulting in more accurate, consistent reporting. Five Relentless Youth Workers were trained to connect with high risk youth, carrying out “interruptions with a purpose”.
- Risk assessment tools: Risks assessments were conducted over the three year period of the project. Additional information on specific tools is not available.
- Materials & resources: YOUCAN’s adaptation of the Stages of Change Model was the foundation of the Relentless Youth Outreach Worker Pilot Project.
The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:
- Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Not applicable.
- Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Not applicable.
- SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: Not applicable.
- Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Not applicable.
Gathering Canadian Knowledge
Canadian Implementation Sites
The Relentless Youth Workers Pilot Project has been implemented in Edmonton (Alberta) by the Youth Canada Association (YOUCAN), Edmonton.
The Relentless Youth Workers Pilot Project was a recipient of the Safe Communities Innovation Fund (SCIF), Government of Alberta.
Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies
No information available.
A social return on investment (SROI) has been conducted on the Relentless Youth Workers Pilot Project. The findings from this study have shown the following:
- The ratio for the Relentless Youth Workers Pilot Project is 1.62:1 over three years, indicating that for every dollar invested in the program, there is a return of $1.62 of social value created; and
- This ratio demonstrates the significance of helping at-risk youth in accessing existing and emerging youth programs or services to meet the youth’s specific needs and interests. In doing this, the program has resulted in a reduction of reliance on social services, led to fewer arrests, and reduced activity with the court system.
For more information, refer to the Alberta Community Crime Prevention Organizations’ (2015) publication.
Alberta Community Crime Prevention Organizations. (2015). Social Return on Investment (SROI) Case Study: The Relentless Youth Worker Project. Recipient of Safe Communities Innovation Fund, Government of Alberta. Available from: https://open.alberta.ca/publications/safe-communities-innovation-fund-pilot-project-executive-summaries
For more information on this program, contact:
Record Updated On - 2021-04-29
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