DAVENPORT, Iowa — A new program in Scott County is officially taking referrals for kids and teens who may need help getting on the right path. The Youth Assessment Program is run by Family Services and helps connects families in the area to resources that can help.
It was back in February 2021 that Chief Sikorski gave a press conference at the Davenport Police Department talking about the devastating death of 14-year-old boy Jaman Winfrey due to local gun violence.
Less than two months later, another instance of youth gun violence took the life of 12-year-old Devell Johnson Junior after he was shot and killed in Davenport.
It’s just two examples of youth gun violence from this past year that helped lead to the YAP initiative.
Stephanie Hernandez is the Director of Initiatives at Family Resources, and in charge of YAP.
“We want families and children to want to be a part of this program so that they are successful and not having to fall into a system like DHS or juvenile court,” Hernandez said.
YAP started taking referrals in the past few weeks and is already helping families in the area. Hernandez says it’s an effort to look at who that child is and what their background is as well.
“It’s a matter of taking a look at what’s their trauma history?” Hernandez asked. “What has been successful in the past?”
So far Hernandez says they’ve done thing likes helping to provide therapy, behavioral health intervention services, and psychiatric help. She gave one specific example of a student who gave signs of needing help through their behavior at school.
“A youth that is struggling in school, not coming well groomed, falling asleep in class, or are very argumentative,” Hernandez said.
She knows the hardest to reach kids are the ones that need help the most. The program hopes to combat what might make it more difficult to reach them through the staff that they chose to hire as care coordinators.
“I think it’s all about the skill set of the care coordinators,” Hernandez said. “Engaging families and children and helping them to see the benefits of receiving services at a voluntary level. We wanted to make sure that we had the right individuals that had experience, whether that's lived experience or experience in our field, and really understood what it meant for our community.”
You can refer someone to YAP or seek help by contacting Family Resources at 563-326-6431.