Launched in October of 2009, DC YouthLink is a District initiative that pairs DC youth that have criminal backgrounds with organizations in their home communities to provide them the supports and services they need to successfully transition into responsible adulthood. Unlike the past, when support services were scant, today, through DC YouthLink, youth are given access to a broad range of services and opportunities, from job training and school support to mentoring and substance abuse interventions.
Unsurprisingly for a large, first-of-its kind project, DC YouthLink had some challenges in its first couple of years. DYRS worked closely with its partners to resolve each identified hurdle. As a result, DC YouthLink has strengthened each year and its impact is increasingly evident.
DYRS youth today represent a significantly lower public safety risk than they did in any recent year. This is true across each of the primary public safety measures: homicides (zero year to date), re-arrests (down 32 percent from last year) and abscondence (down 24 percent from last year). Meanwhile more youth are having positive life outcomes. For example, fifteen youth enrolled in college in FY2011, more than in any other year on record. These outcomes are largely attributable to DC YouthLink and the community organizations now serving our youth.
DYRS continues to refine its oversight of the DC YouthLink initiative and is confident that the positive outcomes for youth and for the District will continue to grow.