DC youth participating in a TAY enrichment activity.

Transitioning from childhood to adulthood is a tough process even in the most supportive environments. Ironically, our nation’s capital is one of the most difficult places in our country for youth to succeed. A recent report ranked Washington, DC youth as the second most at-risk in the entire country; nearly half of DC’s students (47%) are considered at-risk.

Through two five-year grants, CCNY is working with the DC Department of Behavioral Health to create a collaborative System of Care (SOC), helping to ensure that effective programs are delivered to some of our nation’s most vulnerable youth.

CCNY delivers program evaluation, data collection, data analytics, logic model design and process mapping. Internal and external reporting are also provided so program leaders can make data-driven decisions. In addition, CCNY develops materials to inform the community about services and efforts.

At-Risk Youth

An at-risk youth is a child who is less likely to transition successfully into adulthood. Research shows that when youth grow up in environments with economic problems and a lack of role models, they’re more at risk for poverty, early pregnancy, drug use, mental health issues and violence, especially in adulthood.

The environment is even more difficult for these young Americans, as the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic hurt the job market, caused schools to be held online and kept people far more isolated than usual. The pandemic is also a cause of severe stress, and some youth may not have anyone to turn to for support.

Applying Evaluation and Analytics for Systemic Change

There are specific needs that youth and young adults ages 16-25 have that are not met by existing support systems. The DC Department of Behavioral Health has the goal of creating a “world class hub of innovative Transition Age Youth (TAY) services and support” through its TAY OurTime Initiatives. To achieve its goal, it is creating a comprehensive TAY System of Care to support youth in developing a sustainable lifestyle into adulthood. Its main focuses are behavioral health, housing, education, employment, and medical/physical health.

 In 2015, CCNY began work with the DC Department of Behavioral Health on a five-year grant to provide comprehensive evaluation and reporting services, required by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), to monitor, track and measure program activities and outcomes.

TAY OurTime focused on engaging youth and young adults with or at risk for having Serious Emotional Disturbances who were not previously engaged in services, especially those experiencing homelessness and who lived in Wards 7 and 8. CCNY went beyond its scope of work to support continued training, data collection and reporting, ensuring that grant monies were used effectively, and at-risk youths received meaningful services. See CCNY’s Healthy Transitions Age Youth case study for a brief overview of results.

Utilizing the Latest Tools and Technology for Five More Years

In 2020, CCNY was awarded a second five-year contract to continue momentum of the TAY OurTime initiative and to leverage other grant-supported efforts across the district to build a comprehensive TAY SOC. The program was expanded to include youth with substance use disorders, those who identify as LGBTQ, and a geographic focus on Wards 1 and 6.

CCNY is using National Outcomes Measures (NOMS), a primary data collection tool, to ask youth to self-report on various life and health domains. We are also using an adapted tool from the University of Portland’s Youth Efficacy Scales, Youth Participation Planning (YES/YEP) to measure self-efficacy and involvement in youths’ own treatment planning.

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) techniques are applied across all efforts of implementation, data collection and evaluation. AI is a collaborative approach to identify and understand an organization’s and system’s strengths, its potentials, the greatest opportunities and people’s hopes for the future. CCNY is supporting Silver Linings International’s efforts to create an AI needs assessment and an action-oriented “Champion Dream and Design” workshop.

CCNY: The Human Side of Analytics

CCNY has a very simple mission: To help those who help people in need do their jobs better. We do this by providing a comprehensive spectrum of services that range from data evaluation and analytics to quality improvement and training. Our expertise lies in our ability to seamlessly integrate with organizations to analyze data, identify performance gaps and provide strategic initiatives that help organizations deliver value-based care and have a greater impact on the communities they serve.

The TAY OurTime project is led by Evaluation Associate Brandi Collins. For more information about the TAY OurTime Initiative or any CCNY program, please contact us at info@ccnyinc.org