MANITOBA GOVERNMENT EXPANDS SUPPORT TO AT-RISK YOUTH IN SELKIRK
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Investment will Prevent Crime, Increase Access to Community Supports for Youth and Their Families: Stefanson
SELKIRK—The Manitoba government is increasing its support to the Selkirk Team for At-Risk Teens (START) program, which co-ordinates social service agencies, police and community organizations to prevent crime and support at-risk youth and their families, Justice Minister Heather Stefanson announced today.
“START continues to make a measurable difference for young people and their families because the people and agencies involved take the time to identify and address root issues,” said Stefanson. “This collaboration results in benefits for the individual, the family and the community, with improvements related to the youth’s living situation, attendance at school and long-term wellness. Our government is proud to announce an annual funding increase of $50,000 to support this important work, which ends cycles of crime in our communities before they begin.”
The program supports young people aged 11 to 20 and their families who are showing higher-risk behaviours and may already have existing relationships with community agencies or previous involvement with law enforcement. Under the START model, all of the partners work with the youth and their family to identify the root causes of their behaviour and develop a comprehensive plan to get them on a more stable path in their lives. This may include addictions treatment support, mental health supports, probation services or parenting supports.
“It is programs like START that have the potential to change lives, and make our communities healthier and safer,” said Assistant Commissioner Scott Kolody, commanding officer of the RCMP in Manitoba. “With the commitment of the people involved in this program, and with the partnership of the province in funding START, struggling teens get the support they need to lead successful and healthy lives.”
Last year, START worked with 47 clients with an average age of 15. After three years, 93 per cent of youth have had either reduced or no contact with law enforcement. A 2013 assessment found it:
- improved the young person’s living situation (for more than 81 per cent of clients);
- resulted in the youth and the family accessing new services (86 per cent);
- provided the youth, family and service providers with a better understanding of their challenges (nearly 73 per cent);
- improved attendance and participation at school (80 per cent);
- developed more successful safety plans for the youth (nearly 85 per cent); and
- gave all clients a better understanding of their at-risk activities and how to reduce them.
Stefanson noted community mobilization projects like START are an integral part of the province’s Criminal Justice System Modernization Strategy, which was released in March. It reflects the strategy’s focus on evidence-based investments to reduce crime and support community safety.
The minister noted this funding is in addition to an $11,000 annual grant to START that has been in place for several years. START has been working in the Selkirk community for 15 years and receives funding and in-kind support from the RCMP, Lord Selkirk School Division, Justice Canada, Interlake Child and Family Services, the City of Selkirk and Rural Municipality of St. Clements.
For more information about START, visit www.startprogramselkirk.weebly.com.
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