In New Haven’s quest to reach kids before they shoot each other, the adults plan to start sharing notes.
The Harp administration announced that plan Thursday afternoon at a City Hall press conference.
It calls for initiating a regular meeting—weekly at first—of top Board of Ed and housing authority officials, cops, city youth workers, state probation and social workers, firefighters, street outreach workers, and people from community agencies that work with kids in trouble. The meetings start next Tuesday.
The new meetings will go by the title “City Youth Stat.” They’re modeled after the police department’s successful weekly Compstat gatherings, which bring top cops together with community leaders and heads of other government agencies to share the latest data on crimes and brewing problems and then plot strategy for addressing them. The effort also resembles this effort in Baltimore.
Mayor Toni Harp called the new effort the latest installment in New Haven’s “peaceful retaliation in response to recent violence,” including two murders of teens.
“We have to tear down the silos” that keep information within single agencies that deal with at-risk young people, Harp declared. “I believe this information will save lives. I believe this information will give youngsters a second chance” at a better life.
The announcement follows two other steps taken by the Harp administration since the two recent murders:
• It launched My Brother’s Keeper, a program linking cops, educators, and other responsible adults with some of the most at-risk young people in New Haven. A community canvass last week signed up 50 new adult mentors for the program and gathered the names of 45 young mentees, according to city youth chief Jason Bartlett.
• The city opened six schools to keep kids busy and feed them during this week’s school vacation.
The new Youth Stat meetings will enable, say, a street outreach worker to share data and plot strategy with a principal or administrator as well as a probation officer or someone from Continuum of Care, which houses homeless teens, about a young person getting in trouble, who might be on his way to becoming the city’s next murder victim or shooter.
It’s a new strategy—one that will require working through privacy rules that often limit the flow of information, officials acknowledged. Mayor Harp started the process by gaining the support of heads of state agencies.
Too often, Bartlett said, “agencies feel they can solve a problem only by themselves.” Youth Stat will aim to change that.
“Our job,” said schools Superintendent Garth Harries, “is to reach the next Torrence.” He was referring to Torrence Gamble Jr., who had been having problems with the law and with school—but had also been reaching out for help—before someone fatally shot him in the head on April 3.