Intensive work-focused services for at-risk youth in Washington, DC
From 2013 to 2016, Maximus was an integral part of the DC YouthLink (DCYL) coalition – an award-winning initiative designed to connect at-risk youth ages 14 to 24 with local community support and services. The project operated under the principle that neighbors and local community are better suited and more successful than government agencies at helping at-risk youth reintegrate into the community after being involved in the juvenile justice system, in foster care, or detached from education.
As a long-time TANF employment services provider in the DC area, Maximus was well positioned to offer targeted workforce services to DCYL. From serving 1,300 at-risk youth in our TANF project, we had in place processes, employer relationships, training materials and services.
The services Maximus provided in partnership with DCYL fell within the Six Domains of Positive Youth Justice: work, education, health, creativity, community and relationship. Services included:
We received the Provider Appreciation Award from the DC Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services and lead agencies in FY 2014 and a Client Satisfaction Survey score of 4.82 out of a possible 5 in FY 2015
- Work experience and internships
- Job placement and job retention
- Financial literacy and fiscal responsibility
- Evidence-based programming and intensive case management
- Mentoring and family support counseling
- Basic education and certified vocational training
- Civic engagement and community service
Meeting the needs of court-involved youth
Maximus youth programs provide a continuum of individualized services designed to empower youth and help them meet their goals for work, stability and success. We offer immediate, open enrollment into the program for all referrals. Case managers initially reach out to youth through pre-orientation home visits and office orientations that set program expectations, engage participants and their parents or guardians, and start building the relationship needed for our intensive case management.
Our integrated programs start with a personalized Individual Service Plan (ISP) created in agreement with the youth. The case manager ensures that the ISP includes continuous and complementary activities to address gaps in skills and education. The ISP gradually brings down the personal and circumstantial barriers that prevent youth from achieving educational goals, employment and personal stability. The youth’s age, educational level, work history, personal interests and needs determine the services and activities.
Finding employment and a career path
Maximus case managers develop a personalized job search plan for older youth seeking employment, enrolling them in our LifeWorks! proprietary work readiness training, and then in Job Club to support an employment search. Case managers provide hands-on help with job search, preparation, and training while addressing court-ordered requirements and compliance with supervision, reporting and restorative justice for youth on probation or parole.
Each ISP incorporates attainment of a high school diploma or equivalency. We encourage part-time work coupled with post-secondary education, and we help participants understand the impact of education and training on achieving self-sufficiency and higher wages. To help youth choose career paths based on their interests and abilities, we offer internships, work experience, job shadowing and other career exploration activities. We also offer onsite career pathways training for retail or customer service positions. And we provide intensive career counseling, worksite mentoring, supportive services referrals, and follow-up help for youth who are working or in school full-time.
Community service and mentoring
We provide opportunities for civic engagement to all participants. They present or perform at least one arts or media-based community service project in fine arts, painting, theater, music, dance, poetry, photography, web design, media and digital art production, creative writing or book clubs. We track and document progress and completion. We offer a Learning/Doing Attaching/Belonging activity, tracking measurable outcomes such as training completion and compliance with required plan activities. To promote positive community connection, we encourage participants to enroll in and attend at least one non-program related service of their choice.
A focus on empowerment and success
The Maximus DCYL program offered comprehensive, integrated services with personal counseling, civic engagement and volunteer opportunities, quality mentoring, work experience, career planning and access to education and training in a professional, supportive environment.
Through the Maximus DCYL program, youth were able to achieve impressive milestones in educational and workforce development — acquiring the necessary skills to reach adulthood as contributing members of society.