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Developing and Demonstrating Anti-racist Practices

Wednesday, July 1
2:00 -3:00 pm

Aishia A. Brown, PhD, University of Louisville
Nikki Thornton, True Up
Lacey McNary, McNary Group

How is racism showing up in your work with youth? Join us as advocates lifting youth voices for equity and resolutions.  There will be time for sharing your experiences, acknowledging where we are as a community, and establishing a vision for where we want to be.

CSYA Statement of Unity: The Coalition Supporting Young Adults is committed to transforming the way Louisville cares for vulnerable youth and young adults. Therefore, we stand in unity with our black and brown communities and allies who are vocalizing concerns and demands for equitable, anti-racist, and humane treatment and advancements. Furthermore, we commit to speaking up and addressing all forms of injustice, brutality, and discrimination. 

Courier Journal Highlights Community’s Disconnected Youth

Mandy McLaren @mandy_mclaren 

THREAD: I filed this story last Thursday, hours before the first night of protests in Louisville. It was published on Monday, but, understandably, I doubt you saw it. Here’s one big reason why I hope you will still find time to read & share. 

How the coronavirus pandemic multiplies struggles for Louisville’s disconnected youth Without increased support for the out-of-school, out-of-work young adults, experts fear the worst is yet to come.

Last night, while covering the #LouisvilleProtests, I found myself on East Broadway, under an interstate overpass. And while I was doing my best to capture the powerful demonstration that was unfolding, I turned and locked eyes with a young man.

He wasn’t there to protest. He was just walking by. Instantly, I was jolted by the realization: I knew him. 

We met last summer, when I was spending many hours at the YMCA SafePlace drop-in center for homeless youth. Unlike other youths there who knew each other by name & used SafePlace as a spot not just for food and internet, but also social connection, this young man kept to himself.

When I saw him there on Tuesday nights, he typically grabbed a few slices of pizza and sat at a table, always aware of his surroundings. One evening, he asked if it would be OK to sit by me. And little by little, he started talking. 

I wish we weren’t in a pandemic right now and I was in the newsroom so that I could dig out my notebook and truly tell this young man’s story with the detail it deserves. 

What I do remember clearly is that he had been homeless for quite some time — sleeping, often, in junkyard cars, he said. He talked about having to make sure he woke early, getting out of dodge before the sun rose and was caught trespassing. 

He was older than the other youths at SafePlace. He said he had spent a few years in one of the Carolinas — I can’t remember which — where he had a girlfriend, a job and a roof over his head. 

But things with the girlfriend didn’t work out. And he felt the tug of Louisville, the city he grew up in, pulling him back. So he returned. 

He stayed short on details about what followed once he got back, but it was clear that whatever happened, he was making the choice at the time we met to distance himself from his own family. He told me he was trying to get clean. 

I’m not sure the last time I saw him at SafePlace. And at this point, I haven’t been back over there in months, so he could still be stopping by. When I saw him last night, it was clear by his appearance that he was still homeless. 

Even though I was wearing a baseball cap and a mask, it was clear he recognized me, too. Over the protesters’ chants, I tried to explain who I was, to see if he understood our connection. He smiled and nodded. Maybe he knew. Maybe he was just being polite. 

I said something silly like “Are you OK? Are you safe?” and he nodded some more. Then, with no further conversation possible amid the chaos, we waved goodbye and he continued on his way. 

I watched as he, a young black man, walked on, his body directly between the shouting protesters and a line of armed police officers. I wish I knew what he made of it all. 

I’m recounting this to you now because if the pandemic and the protests have reminded me of anything, it’s this: Louisville’s disconnected youth are hurting. And whether they’re shouting their pain at a protest or holding it all in, they are counting on city leaders to help. 

So again, here’s that story you probably missed: How the coronavirus pandemic multiplies struggles for Louisville’s disconnected youth 

Here’s what @louisvillemayor is proposing as a starting point: Mayor Greg Fischer administration seeking $1.5M to support Louisville’s disconnected youth

And here’s the in-depth series I wrote for the @courierjournal last year that brought these important voices to the forefront: Louisville has large number of youth who are out of school or work.

National Youth Violence Prevention Week

Louisville Metro and dozens of community organizations and classrooms will be observing National Youth Violence Prevention WeekMarch 19th to March 23rd.

“The goal of this campaign is to raise awareness and to educate students, teachers, school administrators, counselors, school resource officers, school staff, parents, and the public on effective ways to prevent or reduce youth Violence. This week long national education initiative will involve activities that demonstrate the positive role young people can have in making their school and community safer.”

Everyone is invited to participate in this week to take a city-wide stand against youth violence and to elevate the many solutions to this challenge. Three easy steps to get involved:

  1. Review the NYVPW-ActionKit   and select from any of the suggested activities, develop your own activity during the week, or if you already have something going on that week, lift it up and connect it with #NYVPW, #LouYVPW.
  2. Use (and help get trending) the hashtag’s #LouYVPW and #NYVPW during that week for social media posts.
  3. Metro United Way has graciously agreed to host an on-line portal where everyone can also list their activities for #NYVPW. Use and share this link so that anyone who is participating can have their activity captured.

This is an exciting opportunity to lift up Louisville and to take a stand against violence.  For more information or support to participate during the week of March 19, contact the Office of Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods.

Youth Voice Report

Throughout 2017, the Coalition Supporting Young Adults has conducted research on the needs and goals of Louisville’s disconnected youth and young adults, as they describe them. More than 200 young people shared their stories, hopes and challenges in discussion groups, surveys and interviews. On Jan 8, 2018, CSYA will host a community conversation about the study’s results and the collective actions we can take to support them. We hope you’ll join us. Learn more…



Youth Experiences Survey: Exploring the Sex Trafficking Experiences of Louisville’s At-Risk Adolescents and Young Adults

The UofL Human Trafficking Research Initiative, developed in 2015, is an interdisciplinary, community-engaged research partnership that includes faculty and graduate students from the University of Louisville, made up of the Kent School of Social Work, the Department of Criminal Justice, the Speed School of Engineering, the School of Medicine, and the Brandeis School of Law. The goal of the Initiative is to be a central source of research on human trafficking to inform the decisions made by those who contact victims, survivors, and perpetrators of human trafficking including law enforcement, prosecutors, educators, medical services, and social services.

How are victims identified?

One of the first aims of the Initiative is to work with community partners to more
effectively identify victims of sex trafficking in our community. It can be difficult to identify victims due to general lack of public awareness, as well as a lack of awareness, or reluctance, of many exploited children to identify themselves as victims. In order to address these challenges and provide targeted services, the Initiative is launching a sex
trafficking prevalence study of youth and young adults who are most at-risk in our

What is the YES study?

Phase 1 of the YES study is currently launching in city of Louisville. The proposed study is based on Arizona’s successful YES prevalence study, which has been updated to include Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) questions. The Kentucky YES study will be conducted in three phases to include homelessness/runaway youth, justice-involved youth, and child welfare-involved. Youth and young adults aged 12-25 will be invited to complete the 10-minute survey, which asks questions about drug/alcohol use, family history, childhood trauma, mental and medical diagnoses, sexual exploitation, and service use. Participants will receive a $5 gift card and a resource guide as part of their participation in the study.

Why initiate this type of study?

The purpose of the study is to determine the prevalence of sex trafficking among youth and young adults in Kentucky and southern Indiana. Preliminary research obtained from
Arizona’s YES (Youth Experiences Survey) found of those surveyed, 35% of homeless
young adults identified as being a sex trafficking victim, with LGBTQ young adults
reporting higher rates of sex trafficking versus non-LGBTQ young adults.

The data from the Kentucky YES study will be published and shared statewide, to assist with the development of targeted, trauma-informed programs, to aid in the development of funding opportunities (e.g., collaborative grant proposals), and to highlight the prevalence of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of our most vulnerable youth populations.

How can you help?

If you are an organization that serves at-risk young people in the greater Louisville
community, and you are interested in being a potential survey site, please contact:

Dr. Jennifer Middleton
Co-Director of the UofL HTRI
Cell: 303-648-1825

Secret Life of Homeless Students

As a child, Jessica lived with her mom in shelters and hotels. In high school, she was placed in foster care. “At 20, completely on my own, I needed an advocate, a mentor, a bossy guide to force me to take the harder road.”

Eventually, Jessica Sutherland did take the harder road and is now a TV producer, a writer, and the president and co-founder of Homeless to Higher Ed. She tells her story in a compelling story in Bright, The Secret Lives of Homeless Students.

WFPL Report: Foster Care in Kentucky


In a 2014, WFPL News reported on the significant challenges faced by Kentucky’s public school districts: homelessness, court system involved families, substance abuse, and young people involved in the foster care system.

Across the state, approximately 7,600 children and youth are in foster care, a system that struggles to adequately meet the complex needs of families and children. “Kentucky is near the threshold of correcting years of messy bureaucracy that have led to high costs and inefficient care for children, state child-welfare leaders and advocates say. But more time is needed to fix the byzantine system, says Teresa James, commissioner of the Department of Community Based Services, which oversees the state’s child welfare.”

According to the WFPL News report, the child welfare system is working to address two critical needs:

First, the assessments kids get when they enter the welfare system aren’t adequate, says  Crystal Collins-Camargo, an associate professor at the Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville.

“The system today does not routinely, in a systematic way, assess those kids at the front door,” she says.

“That doesn’t mean a lot of kids don’t get referred very quickly on to mental health services. A lot of them do.”

But that’s not always a good thing. Children must be referred to the right agencies for the right services, she says.

Once the assessments improve, the second major issue will be making sure the right services are available.

That’s where the woman with the “impossible job” comes in.

“I have to change. I don’t get a choice,” says James, who has led the state’s Department of Community Based Services since 2012.

James is lauded by some child-welfare advocates who are optimistic that Kentucky is close to making significant changes.

But she’ll need to be creative, because money is tight.

 “There’s just a lot of grassroots types of programs that don’t exist any more that provided some really strong outcomes for us, and now we don’t have those,” she says. “So a lot of those basic services, DCBS staff are now trying to pinch hit.”

Read more

CSYA Issue Briefs: Voices of Louisville’s Young Adults

Voices of Louisville’s Young Adults is a series of issue briefs to help the community better understand how young adults in crisis without support live, hope and think. The information in the issue briefs was generated from a series of focus sessions and an online survey of 95 young adults, who were experiencing or had experienced crises. The intent of the efforts was to listen to Young Adults and have their voices represented in the work of the Planning Team and Work Teams. Each issue brief contains a profile of the 95 Young Adults surveyed.

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