Promoting School Success and Positive Life Outcomes
Youth and Family Services, formerly known as Helping Families Initiative, is a community/school-based program created by the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office. Its purpose is to improve outcomes for at-risk youth and their families by creating a network of support among schools, non-profit agencies and local government to ensure school and life success.
This support includes prevention and early intervention services in local schools/community to reduce risk factors, such as:
- Alcohol and Other Drug Use
- Juvenile Delinquency
- Low Emotional Regulation
- Poor Academic Performance
- Truancy – School Attendance
The program is designed to work with families of school-age children that have been suspended from school and NOT arrested.
Many children in our community face insurmountable odds on a daily basis that impede their ability to be successful in school. Children may be exposed to domestic violence, drugs, gangs, homelessness, sexual abuse, poverty and lack of basic necessities. As a result, children may exhibit unacceptable behaviors in school that result in multiple suspensions.
However, education is the key to success for our children and community. Suspensions result in lost instructional days that can lead to students repeating grades, dropping out of school and engaging in criminal activities.
The Mobile County District Attorney’s Office established a partnership with the Mobile County Public School System to create Youth and Family Services. This partnership has been in existence for more than 10 years. Since that time, Youth and Family Services has worked together with Mobile County Public School System to identify students that meet the program’s criteria and the families that would benefit from the services.
Overview of the Program
For prevention and early intervention, school administrators or parents can contact Youth and Family Services to intervene due to early signs or ongoing at-risk behaviors by the student at school or home.
Once Youth and Family Services receives the referral, a Case Officer is assigned to the student/family to complete an assessment.
During the assessment, the Case Officer will develop an individualized plan including area community agencies and services to address the needs of the student as well as the whole family.
After the original assessment, the Case Officer will continue to monitor the student’s behavior to ensure there is a reduction in at-risk behaviors and increase in school success.
Youth and Family Services also receives on a monthly basis a report from area schools that identifies the students that have been suspended from school for such things as bullying, theft, trespassing, bomb threats, possession of drugs, alcohol or weapons.
A letter of concern from the District Attorney is sent to the parent or guardian of the student that is suspended for the above offenses encouraging the family to contact the Youth and Family Services program.
Youth and Family Services have developed and maintain relationships with over 50 community agencies and organizations. This diverse array of services will provide support to the children and their families to improve academic and life success and reduce the possibility of juvenile delinquency.
Why is Youth and Family Services Important
There is a substantial correlation among poor school attendance, student misconduct and delinquent behavior. Intervention at the first sign of misbehavior is key to preventing a child from entering the juvenile justice system.
Once a child enters the juvenile justice system, the chances of that child escalating into the adult system are significant. A child who has been suspended is more likely to engage in delinquent behavior, and that child’s chances of becoming a perpetrator of crime are increased.
Additionally, this program can benefit children who do not misbehave in school. By eliminating behavior problems in the classroom, the overall learning environment is enriched for all students.