We all know it doesn’t make sense to ignore a leaky roof and then spend even more money later on to repair the water damage. The same is true for Youth Intervention. We are wasting lives and money.
Youth Intervention is an essential service because:
- It is consistent with our values – We all care deeply about the welfare of our young people. No one wants to see them fail and we take pride in seeing them succeed. We want them to be a positive member of our communities.
- It is cost effective – We all know the economic outcomes of the two paths young people face when they lack needed support. Although written in 1735, Benjamin Franklin’s statement that “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” continues to be true today.
- It is sustainable – Connecting and establishing trusting relationships between young people and adults through community-based programs is an affordable and humane method that works.
- It improves public safety – Young people who are disconnected either act out or withdraw; it’s human nature because we all need to be connected to something bigger than ourselves. They won’t damage what they perceive to be a positive; what they do instead is protect and nurture it.
- It increases our economic competitiveness – The world has become small and to prosper we need a skilled, creative, collaborative, and dedicated workforce. Youth Intervention provides the social, emotional, and behavioral skills the 21st-century workforce requires.
- It benefits us all – We all understand the main beneficiaries of Youth Intervention are the young people and their families. But all of us win when the kid next door does well. Each of us as individuals and as a community benefit when any young people succeed.
In addition to these self-evident reasons, there is also data proving it works. Young people in intervention programs do better with homework, grades, and attendance. They do better with problem solving, goal setting, and delayed gratification. They develop a pro-social attitude and 90% stay out of trouble with the law.
We can’t rest until Youth Intervention is considered an essential service
It is incumbent on us all to make sure that we get it right. We all need our young people to become fully developed adults who are contributing members of our society.
Youth Intervention is not an expensive proposition and the benefits of it are easy to understand and difficult to dispute. But unless people unite and demand change, adequate funding for Youth Intervention won’t happen.
No matter what action you choose to take, be the person we all know our young people deserve. Be in their corner advocating for them and ensuring Youth Intervention becomes an essential service.
Paul Meunier is the Executive Director of the Youth Intervention Programs Association (YIPA).
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