First Compstat. Now Youth Stat

Paul Bass PhotoIn 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.

Melissa Bailey Photo“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.

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posted by: RHeerema on April 17, 2014  5:16pm

I would LOVE to see young people as full partners & watchdogs at the new Youth Stat meetings. Some of these privacy/confidentiality protections are there for a reason! I am hopeful that better coordination & partnership among the Big Fish might coordinate care for youth & families facing serious problems.

posted by: Tell The Truth on April 17, 2014  6:11pm

Bravo to Mayor Harp and her administration.  Bravo to Jason Bartlett who has taken the Director of Youth services to another echelon.  Gemma Lumpkin is a proven leader and deliverer of great results when it comes to who’s doing anything at the BOE, so, wise choice to place as BOE point person!  In the wake of the recent surge of gang violence in this city, this is more than what has been done in the past when this happened.  In 2011, this would have helped tremendously and probably prevented our recent murders, but, hey,  we didn’t have Mayor Harp or Jason Barlett back then! Kudos!

posted by: anonymous on April 17, 2014  7:47pm

If I had a child in the school system, I’m not sure I would want all of these government entities and agencies sharing their experiences with him/her in a public meeting. 

Is it even legal for these groups to talk about “individual” children in public like this?

posted by: HewNaven on April 17, 2014  9:41pm

This looks like a really smart move by Harp, et al. We know Compstat is useful, hopefully this will be too.

posted by: Keldo on April 18, 2014  5:21am

This is a great idea in theory. My concern is similar to rheemera’s- what is the plan to maintain privacy/confidentiality among these different groups (some bound by confidentiality agreements, others not)?  I read in the Register that Bartlett stated there is an “overreliance” on privacy and needs to protect people’s information. This makes me nervous for both the families involved and the city’s legal coffers.  Does the Harp administration truly understand the reason for confidentiality or is it merely a technicality they are trying to sidestep? What does Corp Counsel have to say about this, Paul?

posted by: robn on April 18, 2014  10:13am

It’s a good idea. Teachers are the first public officials to observe anti social behavior and there should be a pipeline of their observations to other social agencies. I would guess that anti-social behavior in a classroom is a public action and therefore discussable; circumstances revealed privately to guidance Counselors and administrators… I’m not so sure. However the spirit if this (looking for signs) seems to be right.