The Watertown Youth Service Bureau was established in 2012 with the purpose of referring youth to local services, identifying and filling gaps in services, and working to improve overall community conditions related to youth. The Youth Service Bureau works cooperatively with school personnel, police, community resources, youth and parents. By directing youth to resources in their school and community, we can ensure that each and every child is taking advantage of what this great community has to offer.
The Watertown Youth Services Bureau has established the following goals:
- Provide school-based prevention, intervention, and life skills counseling services (through Wellmore Behavioral Health)
- After School Programming
- Developmental Assets Initiative
The role of the Youth Service Bureau is to serve as an advocate for the youth in our community. The YSB is the coordinating unit of community-based services, which provides comprehensive delivery of prevention, intervention, treatment and follow-up services for youth. These services are designed to meet the needs of youth by the provision of opportunities for all youth to function as responsible members of their community. (C.G.S. section 10-19m; see Appendix A).
YSBs have a broader scope of service than most other youth-serving agencies. In addition to providing direct services like other agencies, YSBs are responsible for assessing the needs of youth, identifying gaps in services, and coordinating services for youth in order to fill gaps and avoid duplication of services. Many Youth Service Bureaus also play a special role working with the juvenile justice system to meet the needs of children and youth found to be delinquent for the first time (Juvenile Review Board). An YSB is a non-coercive, independent public agency established to divert children and youth from the justice system by:
- Mobilizing community resources to solve youth problems
- Strengthening existing youth resources and developing new ones
- Promoting positive programs to remedy delinquency breeding conditions
Watertown High School, Swift Middle School and Polk Elementary School will be offering the Life Skills and Substance Abuse Prevention Program to students this year. A prevention specialist from Wellmore Behavioral Health will be available at the schools for this purpose. Life Skills is a research informed prevention program aimed at assisting students in improving their leadership skills, peer relationship skills, coping skills and offering substance abuse prevention techniques. The students will meet in small groups and complete various educational activities, helping them to learn skills in a supportive and fun environment. Groups are held during the school day one time-per-week.
In conjunction with the needs and concerns of our young people, a new strength-based youth development model has recently been introduced in our community. Search Institute's 40 Developmental Assets are concrete, common sense, positive experiences and qualities essential to raising successful young people. These assets have the power during critical adolescent years to influence choices young people make and help them become caring, responsible adults. The WYSB has been busy hosting presentations, forums, and trainings, to help members of the community, young and old, become asset champions on behalf of Watertown youth.
The WYSB holds monthly Developmental Asset Meetings with parents, students, teachers and community members to work on improving student concerns. This forum is also for planning a Community Dinner, the purpose of the gathering is to strengthen Parent Involvement, Family Communication, and Self Esteem. The event is free and open to the public. Attendance, through RSVP, will be on a first come first served basis.