New London Youth Affairs is a Youth Service Bureau which promotes positive outcomes for children, youth, and families by supporting a wide range of comprehensive services and collaborations.
Positive youth development is targeted through skill/knowledge building, constructive peer/family relationships, local resource connections, access to new growth opportunities, and community coordination.
R.A.D. (Recreational Alternatives to Drugs) was established in l989 when a concerned citizen approached the New London City Council, requesting their commitment to take action towards the prevention of youth substance abuse. The Palmer Fund awarded start-up funds for the program's first year, supporting a part-time staff person and activity expenses. The following year, R.A.D. received a federal grant from the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. These monies initiated the formation of the New London Focus Group on Youth, a coalition dedicated to positive youth development. After the conclusion of that grant, the Focus Group received funding from the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management to oversee Teen, Parent, and Neighborhood Organizers. With a 1997 restructuring, New London Youth Affairs was created, administering R.A.D., the Focus Group, and other related programs.
The 1997 award of Connecticut Department of Education funds allowed Youth Affairs to serve as New London's Youth Service Bureau. From its inception, Youth Affairs has functioned as a division within the Recreation Department. However, most program support, operations, and program staff salaries are procured through foundations, government grants, corporations, civic groups, collaborations, donations, and other outside sources. The Parks and Recreation Commission make recommendations to the Recreation Department. Youth Affairs is facilitated by the full-time Coordinator of Youth Services, Early Childhood/Family Coordinator, Teen Employment/Development Coordinator, and various regular part-time Program Coordinators/Assistants, contractors, per diem personnel, and interns/volunteers.
Youth Affairs programs serve New London youth, 8 months through 21 years, and their families.
Accomplishments / Services / Programs:
New London Youth Affairs programs are free to the public, and described as follows:
The Early Childhood Family Center provides options for children 4 years of age and younger, and their parents. School readiness is addressed by linking families to wrap-around family/child basic need services and distributions, identifying/supporting children with developmental delays, and connecting children to preschool slots. The Family Center integrates weekly skill building series, learning excursions, workshops (parent mental health, parent creative play groups, parent education), and community based resources through Birth to 8 Hub.
Parent Leadership Training is facilitated through a curriculum based program (PLTI, PSEE, PEP, Circle of Security, Los Ninos). Participants gain civic engagement skills to advocate for children in schools and the community.
Whale's Tales children's book bank procures thousands of books, which it then disseminates to children through literacy events, schools, agencies, and Little Free Libraries.
Youth Affairs joins together with other Youth Service Bureaus, New London Public Schools, and agencies to organize community and family events/resource opportunities.
The Teen Employment Program develops workforce skills and employs 14-24 year old young people at dozens of local sites in wide ranging fields, including career pipelines.
COOL (Careers of our Lives) serves high school seniors, to improve individualized academic and employment competencies for placement in post-secondary education/training, and/or employment/apprenticeships.
Teen Links serves middle/high school young people through school year employment, workforce certifications, life skills training, and educational/cultural field trips.
NLCCC (New London Community Connections Coalition) functions as a consortium of New London area organizations, dedicated to prevention of youth substance abuse and other risky behaviors, and mental health promotion. Efforts include community education, prevention initiatives, and capacity building.
The JRB (Juvenile Review Board) is a community based program that diverts youth from the Juvenile Justice System and connects them to local services.
FWSN (Families With Service Needs), including truancy, are addressed through analogous procedures and individualized support. School attendance promotion is pursued through a home visitation partnership with New London Public Schools.