Career Path & Reintegration Demonstration Project

Transcript

Narrator:

Career Path offers programming for justice-involved youth, who are at risk of or involved in gang activity. It provides education, training and employment opportunities by connecting youth with an employer who also acts as a mentor in building leadership and employability skills.

Matt Hamilton:

Career Path Worker, PLEA Community Services Society of BC: What we do different at Career Path is the door is never shut, the door is always open. What the kids give back to the community, it's just so much bigger than what we all put into it.

Ann Alexander:

Program Director, PLEA Community Services Society of BC: Career Path is basically an employment program for young people who are somewhat gang-involved. They are referred to us by only youth justice professionals. We felt that one of the main ways that we could pull them out of the justice system, which was our first objective, would be to give them a serious job, real work in the community with money attached.

In our dealings with probation, we knew that there were a lot of kids who were in over their heads and they were actually talking about how to stop and how to get out. They had no life anymore, that was their life so, we knew that in order to replace that gang life we had to offer them a whole new gig.

Matt Hamilton:

Career Path Worker, PLEA Community Services Society of BC: Day to day is different every day. We work on resumes, do job search. We want to find jobs that the youth are interested in working at, so they have some bind. And then we meet with the employers and recruit them and have them sign on and have them become mentors to the youth. It usually turns into a full-time employment afterward.

Employer:

Thanks for bringing your stuff. Looks good.

Ann Alexander:

Program Director, PLEA Community Services Society of BC: The young people are telling us themselves that it has benefited them and that it has been effective. And they have indicated to 85% that they found it to be very helpful and they are happy in their workplace. The challenges are mainly with the young people and their families. They live in chaos. A lot of them are in poverty.

If you have nowhere to sleep and you have no money to make lunch, going to work kind of falls down the ladder of the hierarchy of needs, so we have to do a lot of work to get that stuff in place before they can get on this program.

If you wanted to start a program, for one thing, it can start in any community because every community has work, no matter how small. Start by finding employers and then go and get referrals for the young people. You can never stop supporting and supervising. That has to happen constantly, otherwise trouble starts and you have to mediate those work place problems.

This kind of a program will really help kids disengage from their other life and move them into the real world. And also that there are an amazing number of steadfast employers who are willing to take kids on. We know that it's working.

Narrator:

The Reintegration Demonstration project provides long-term follow-up and support to youth leaving the Waypoint or Daughters and Sisters residential addiction treatment centres.

Ann Alexander:

Program Director, PLEA Community Services Society of BC: The Reintegration Demonstration project is something that we developed to follow up our young people leaving the addictions treatment programs.

These are kids that have been in and out of the criminal justice system for most of their lives. Prior to treatment with us they hadn't been sober probably for five years. The addictions treatment programs are contained and our worry has always been what happens when they go home.

We are looking for better outcomes and we think that if we follow them home and put some stuff in place for them and work with their families more that we would have better outcomes, for sure.

Karen Newman:

Reintegration Demonstration Worker, PLEA Community Services Society of BC: Our program is innovative because we are able to connect with the youth at any point during their treatment.

So if they have successfully completed the treatment program we can start working with them at that point. But if, in the case that they leave treatment early, for whatever reason, we are still able to offer them that support.

Ann Alexander:

Program Director, PLEA Community Services Society of BC: We are lucky to stretch the biggest net out there for these kids. They go back to their life, their friends, their family and they fall on their face. So we wanted to be there with our safety net so that they wouldn't stay down.

Karen Newman:

Reintegration Demonstration Worker, PLEA Community Services Society of BC: I think the reintegration program works because of our ability to build rapport with the youth. It's very sad how many of them are lacking in services and connections to their community.

Crystal Sugden:

Reintegration Demonstration Worker, PLEA Community Services Society of BC: Today I'm taking a youth I work with to court. And I am going to wait with him for his court appearance. I am going to help him go over all the legal papers, anything he has to sign, anything he might not understand. Just make sure he knows what is going on. So it is a pretty scary process for a young kid to go through.

Ann Alexander:

Program Director, PLEA Community Services Society of BC: One of hardest things we had to do is to try and get the families to come in and help us with that reintegration for their own children and that's been one of our biggest struggles. The other thing is to always be available. If it's a year after treatment, they are phoning us, then it is.

I would advise to make it attractive to the young people to want to do it. If you have strong relationships with them it's not a disguise who you are any more. They know who we are, that we're not the authority figure and really our entire job is to support and help them.

We have learned that there are more barriers for kids returning home than we ever thought there would be. We have to start earlier, while they are in treatment. We have to double the effort to try to engage the families before the kids get on the reintegration program, because no matter how awful the family is that you came from, kids will always go back there. We find that that's kind of the key to a successful re-entry, is work with that family and that is what we mainly have learned.

On-screen Text:

The Career Path pilot project received funding through the Youth Justice Fund Guns, Gangs and Drugs Component.

The Reintegration Demonstration Program pilot project received funding through the Youth Justice Fund Drug Treatment Component. Funding for this component is provided under the National Anti-Drug Strategy.

For more information about funding under the National Anti-Drug Strategy, please visit nationalantidrugstrategy.gc.ca

©Her Majesty the Queen in right of Canada, represented by Justice Canada, 2011.

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