Projects: New Mexico Promise for Success Initiative

The Promise for Success Initiative (PSI) is a year-long, data-driven reform effort to improve services for at-risk youth and families and those already involved in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. In early 2008, the Gadsden Independent School District in Doña Ana County, New Mexico asked CYJ to participate in the initiative. CYJ helped the county to develop a comprehensive, community-based strategic plan, which includes making services more accessible, developing crisis response capacity, and implementing a continuum of graduated sanctions for arrested youth in the region.

CYJ’s Contributions to PSI

The Promise for Success Initiative employed qualitative and quantitative data analyses, interdisciplinary collaboration, and national practices to develop a strategic and comprehensive prevention strategy.

• CYJ staff worked with local leaders in Doña Ana County to analyze the needs of at-risk or system-involved youth, their families, and local communities. This work included a quantitative analysis of administrative system data, interviews with youth and families, surveys with more than 50 service providers, and focus groups with local stakeholders to get a comprehensive understanding of local needs. The results of this assessment are documented in CYJ’s research report, Doña Ana County Promise for Success Initiative Research Findings.

• Following the needs assessment, CYJ staff helped plan and convene two public meetings to inform community members about the reform initiative and receive feedback from the community. Over 200 community members—primarily adolescents, their parents, and people who work with youth—attended these meetings.

Why the Promise for Success Initiative Is Necessary

Stakeholders in Doña Ana County have expressed concerns about characteristics of the region that affect young people, including limited out-of-school recreational resources, gang activity, poverty, and immigration-related issues. Services in Doña Ana County are accessible primarily to young people who have already penetrated the child welfare or juvenile justice systems; preventive resources – those targeting youth who are at risk of system involvement – are profoundly limited. With CYJ’s research and technical assistance, PSI was able to directly address these challenges and develop concrete plans to increase access to preventive services. Though Doña Ana County is unique, the strategies used and lessons learned while doing this work can inform work in other jurisdictions.