Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New program to assist children at risk of future criminal behavior

The City of Calgary has partnered with several other community agencies to support children who show risk factors of future criminal behavior or victimization.
The City’s Community & Neighbourhood Services has partnered with the Calgary Police Service, the Calgary Catholic School District and the Calgary Board of Education on the Multi-Agency School Support Team (MASST) in meeting the needs of vulnerable children aged five to 15.
Four MASST teams consisting of a police officer and a City of Calgary registered social worker will work closely with Calgary’s school boards in identifying students for the pilot project. MASST will focus on risk factors that can make children vulnerable to criminal activity, both as perpetrators and victims. Risk factors include a lack of adult supervision, negative peer influences, alcohol and drug abuse and lack of attachment to the community.
“The City realizes that in order for a program to be successful, we have to work with youth where they live and learn – in their communities and in their schools,” says Doug Borch, issue strategist with The City’s Community & Neighbourhood Services. “The City strongly believes that the best way to keep at risk youth out of the justice system is to prevent them from getting in. This program will give us the tools to try to accomplish this."

While the primary focus will be on children, the project also includes educating parents and inviting the family to participate in the process.

“This is a community approach that allows us to increase collaboration among police, the City of Calgary, schools and social agencies to identify and address these issues early, helping students get needed support” said Alberta Education Minister Dave Hancock. "Parent and family engagement is critical to a student's success and schools can play a key role in this program.”
While the primary focus will be on children, the project also includes educating parents and inviting the family to participate in the process.
The 3-year pilot project is funded by the Alberta Government’s Safe Communities Innovation Fund and the MASST partners.

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