Hope is probably the one secret ingredient that can turn a person’s outlook and life around however bleak things may be. In a sense, its presence is what distinguishes those who succeed and those who don’t. This seemingly simplistic concept is what Manitowoc County employed that resulted in deeply ingrained changes in the youth.
To talk about the Kids at Hope initiative is Stacy Ledvina. Stacy Ledvina is a Social Work Supervisor at the Manitowoc County, Wisconsin Human Services Department. She advocates evidence-based practices in youth justice and led Manitowoc’s initiative to address youth at risk through a holistic approach that engages the youth, their families, and the community.
Stacy unpacks Kids at Hope, the C5 Catalyst For Change winner initiative, and discusses:
- A brief overview of Manitowoc County.
- The events in a span of more than a decade that led to the inception of Kids at Hope.
- The research review conducted across different disciplines.
- Understanding the elements that contribute to success.
- Zeroing in on hope as the critical controllable component towards success.
- Why Kids at Hope is not created as a program but a strategic cultural framework that communities may adapt to support ‘at risk’ children and youth.
- Looking into the three types of success, what each means and zeroing in on what Kids at Hope aim to push for – cultural success.
- The three Universal Truths espoused by the framework.
- ‘We believe’ that stresses the importance of being surrounded by adults who believe children can succeed.
- ‘We connect’ which underscores the presence of meaningful and sustainable relationships with adults.
- ‘We time travel’ that articulates the importance of hope in allowing children/youth to imagine their future and take steps to claim it.
- Studies conducted on adults and kids that exhibit how we tend to view propensity to succeed.
- The ACES characters that provide children and youth with the support and encouragement they need to be hopeful and work towards success.
- Moments of Truth where the interactions between adults with children/youth can make a lasting impact on their mindset, choices, and life.
- The four destinations to time travel to get an idea of how children/youth picture the life they want.
- The framework of Kids at Hope using the three Universal Truths to serve as its foundation and load-bearing walls.
- The concept of ‘treasure hunting’ where adults who interact with the youth/children pledge to commit in the search for talents, skills, and intelligence which shall serve as their gateway to success.
- Manitowoc’s journey implementing Kids at Hope that focuses on:
- Spreading the principles of hope and success to community stakeholders like schools, businesses, and agencies that work directly with youth/children.
- Implementing time travel as part of case planning for ‘at risk’ youth/children in conjunction with addressing criminogenic needs.
- Advancing the learnings and progress of the initiatives so far.
- Stacy addressed questions related to:
- Practical examples of how agencies can change their culture to adopt a Kids at Hope philosophy.
- Rallying our colleagues to practice the same belief in the kids’ potential for success.
- Changing people’s perspective from a punitive mindset towards a restorative one aligned with the Kids at Hope philosophy.
- How long did the process of transitioning towards the Kids at Hope philosophy took.
- Getting buy in from other stakeholders from the judiciary.
- The impact of the initiative in the number of detentions for ethnic groups.
- “Love both the philosophy and the structure of the program. The presentation was very clear and easy to understand.” — Catharine
- “Good overview of KAH and how it’s been implemented in another county.” — Cheryl
- “If you help KIDS you are helping all the community. They are the adults of tomorrow.” — Robert
- “Hope and belief in our young people can go a long way toward changing the trajectory of a young person’s life.” — Kysten