Selkirk Team for At-Risk Teens (S.T.A.R.T.)

Program snapshot

Age group: Adolescence (12-17); Young adult (18-24)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: Aboriginal/Indigenous; Adult offenders; Placed out-of-home; Youth in contact with law enforcement (and/or at risk)

Topic: Academic issues; Aggressive/violent behaviours; Alcohol and/or drug use; Antisocial/deviant behaviours; Crime issues involving a mental health disorder or other health disorder

Setting: Rural/remote area; Urban area; Community-based setting

Location: Manitoba

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 1; In progress

Continuum of intervention: Primary crime prevention; Secondary crime prevention; Tertiary crime prevention

Brief Description

The Selkirk Team for At-Risk Teens (S.T.A.R.T.) is a coordinated inter-agency case planning program for high-risk youth in Selkirk (Manitoba) and the surrounding area which utilizes community and family resources to intervene, plan for and support these youth.

S.T.A.R.T. looks at six different areas as indicators of success. Each represents a key area that, when not addressed, will increase the probability of becoming at-risk:

  • Improved attendance and participation in school:  Is the youth at school more often and participating? This often means finding a schooling plan that understands the issues affecting the youth and accommodating appropriately. For instance, many schools will accommodate addictions and mental health workers meeting with clients at school to increase the likelihood of youth getting to these meetings, and in turn the youth is getting the help they need to be more successful in school.
  • Increased understanding of a youth’s challenges: What are the issues behind the youth’s behaviour? Often we get stuck on the behaviour, but when we look deeper we see a youth that is struggling on many levels, perhaps with mental health, addiction or cognitive challenges. If we can assist with the issues, the behaviour often dissipates.
  • Improved living situation: What is the youth going home to? Whether in foster care or with their parents, a youth’s home life is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. S.T.A.R.T. offers ongoing contact for caregivers, support in working with agencies, parenting courses and addiction support counselling.
  • A successful safety plan:  Have we been able to keep this youth safe? Whether the youth is victimized, contemplating suicide or engaging in unsafe behaviours, our goal is to create a plan to keep them safe.
  • Better knowledge of the youth’s at-risk activities: Do we better understand the activities which make this youth at-risk? Whether it is criminal activity, drug use, lack of school attendance, mental health concerns or any number of other issues, we have a clearer picture when we work together. Because S.T.A.R.T. meets monthly for each youth, we continually have a strong understanding of what is happening with our clients and are better able to intervene, assist and get them back on track.
  • Accessing of services not previously utilized: Who should be assisting this youth and family but are not? So often, significant issues masquerade as poor behaviour. Youth are not always very good at understanding or articulating what is wrong and this discord manifests in their behaviour. S.T.A.R.T. teams are very good at identifying the reasons behind the behaviour and adding the appropriate supports to the youth’s team.

Goals

The main goals of the S.T.A.R.T program are to:

  • Coordinate the inter-agency case planning for at-risk youth and utilize community and family resources to support these youth in returning to school and/or seeking employment; and
  • Ensure that the identified at-risk youth in the community are moving towards becoming active, productive members of society, no longer engaged in activities that are harmful to both themselves and the community at large.   

The S.T.A.R.T. program and its community partners look beyond the behaviours to find out what is causing the youth to act in a risky way. They then figure out a way to resolve these issues so that the youth can move forward in a positive and healthy manner.

The S.T.A.R.T program has been successfully duplicated in several communities across Manitoba. The key to this program is the involvement of the youth and their family as part of the multi-agency team and their ability to openly share and address what the real issues are. S.T.A.R.T provides a longer term approach from 6 months to years, depending on the intensity of the situation.

Clientele

Participants are high-risk youth between the ages of 12-21 residing in Selkirk and the surrounding area (or in the area of one of our affiliate programs).  Individuals need to be involved with three of S.T.A.R.T.’s partner agencies to indicate a high level of risk.  These agencies include the RCMP, Community and Youth Corrections, Child and Family Services, addictions services, mental health services, public health services or services dealing with ongoing school-related issues.

The program will identify at-risk youth through the various agencies or through parental or client contact.

Usually, youth who participate in this program could be making risky decisions that will seriously affect their future, and show two or more of the following behaviours: Poor or no school attendance; regular use of alcohol; poor family relations; sexually promiscuous behaviour; involvement with the law/criminal history; poor academic achievement and mental health issues. For example, based on the 2016 annual report, client START statistics showed that:

  • The average age of clients was 15.78 years old;
  • 57% of clients were male, 43% were female;
  • 13% of clients were in the 18 to 21 age range;
  • 37% were First Nations/Inuit, 13% Metis;
  • 53% of clients live with one biological parent; 30% are in foster placements;
  • 22% are involved with mental health services and a further 15% have been referred and declined services;
  • 85% of clients have used alcohol or drugs; 70% regularly use alcohol or drugs;
  • 35% have probation orders;
  • 52% are currently before the courts; and
  • 24% of clients have spent time in custody (youth centre).

Core Components

Once a client is determined to be eligible for the S.T.A.R.T. program:

  • An intervention plan is created with the client, their family and involved agencies to assist the client in addressing barriers to success.  The S.T.A.R.T. intervention can be as variable as the clients themselves. The agencies associated with S.T.A.R.T. youth provide information, resources or supports on behalf of the client, and the team invites other community partners that could be of assistance to the table;
  • Case conferences are held monthly to ensure the intervention plan is being followed, or to re-work the planif it is not.  Each team member reports to the S.T.A.R.T. Coordinator each time an intervention step has been completed, or there has been a setback in the client’s progress.  If a client is struggling, an additional meeting can be made or meetings can be scheduled weekly or bi-weekly; and
  • Once the client has demonstrated positive activity and has shown stability for six months after all interventions have been completed, the Screening Committee begins the process of closing the file.  The time a client is with the program is not limited, and some have needed the comprehensive support for several years until they have been able to maintain stability for the required six months.

Implementation Information

Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:

  • Organizational requirements: A coordinator position that case manages the client files and ensures that ongoing support is occurring by each of the involved partner agencies.
  • Partnerships: This model strongly requires the commitment of local youth serving agencies. This includes policing, probation, child and family services, school, mental health, public health and addictions services. Their participation will not only be necessary for the front line work of the program, but also for the program’s governing board.
  • Training and technical assistance: As program staff will work directly with families and youth, training in social services is necessary.  Program management staff require a business/management background.
  • Risk assessment tools: S.T.A.R.T. utilizes an in-house risk assessment tool to capture the levels of risk faced by clients.
  • Materials & resources: S.T.A.R.T. has information available for those looking to replicate our model. Training with the S.T.A.R.T. program is a requirement of being a S.T.A.R.T. model program.

International Endorsements

The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:

  • Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Not applicable.
  • Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Not applicable.
  • SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: Not applicable.
  • Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Not applicable.

Gathering Canadian Knowledge

Canadian Implementation Sites

Selkirk, Manitoba (est. 2002) – S.T.A.R.T. Program. All of the partner agencies make up the governing board for the programs. This model has now been duplicated in the following communities:

  • Dauphin, MB (est. 2005 as the D.A.R.T. Program);
  • Stonewall, MB (est. 2008 as the S.T.A.R. Program);
  • Gimli, MB (est. 2013 as the F.Y.R.S.T. Program); and
  • Steinbach, MB (est. 2015 as the Headway Program).

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

Study 1

A qualitative evaluation of the S.T.A.R.T. program funded by the RCMP’s National Crime Prevention Services was undertaken in 2012 and completed in 2013.  This evaluation was completed by Jonathon Franklin, Instructor, Department of Criminology, Department of Sociology, University of Winnipeg and RA Cara Isaak, Department of Physiology, University of Manitoba.

Results from this evaluation showed the following:

 “Our overall findings are very favourable towards the S.T.A.R.T. program. We feel that S.T.A.R.T. is accomplishing most of their goals and objectives and that they share many qualities of the most successful multi-agency care management programs documented in the literature and that they have achieved success without the benefit of formal systems level collaboration policy. We feel that similarities to other successful and well-evaluated programs lend merit to the S.T.A.R.T. program beyond that which we document in this evaluation. S.T.A.R.T.’s Program Coordinator embodies much of the skill set required for coordinators of the most prestigious and well-researched wraparound programs in North America. We can clearly identify paradigm shifts in the S.T.A.R.T. program that are touted as necessary for asset-based wraparound models. S.T.A.R.T. seems to go beyond most programs in their level of flexibility and cultural competence, as they provide services to a large Aboriginal population and also support very complex youth. We have provided evidence that S.T.A.R.T. has increased collaboration between social service agencies and that this collaboration has resulted in positive outcomes for S.T.A.R.T. clients. We have shown that clients and families strongly endorse the program and that S.T.A.R.T. is fully supported by the participating agencies.”

Study 2

The S.T.A.R.T. program is currently undergoing an evaluation funded by Justice Canada to determine the effectiveness of using the S.T.A.R.T. model with youth diagnosed with low cognitive function or mental health issues who are currently involved in the justice system.  This evaluation is currently in progress; results are not yet available at this time.

Cost Information

Costs for running this program vary depending on the size of the community in which it is implemented, whether the staff is full or part-time.  A majority of the program cost is the wages of the staff and there is minimal overhead costs as partner agencies assist with in-kind contributions of office space and equipment.

References

The START Program. (2016). Year End Report. Available from: www.startprogramselkirk.weebly.com

For more information on this program, contact:

Tammy Thompson
Program Coordinator
Selkirk, Manitoba R2V 4X2
Telephone: (204)-785-4001
E-mail: tammy.l.thompson@rcmp-grc.gc.ca
Website: www.startprogramselkirk.weebly.com

Todd Clarke
Executive Director
Manitoba Justice, Community Safety Division
Crime Prevention Branch
Telephone: (204)945-6884

E-mail: todd.clarke@gov.mb.ca


Record Entry Date - 2018-03-12

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