October 10, 2018
With a focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the YMCA of Metro Chicago makes accessible the support and opportunities that empower people and communities to learn, grow, and thrive. This is why during World Mental Health Day 2018, the YMCA is excited to announce that our Youth Safety and Violence Prevention (YSVP) initiative will broaden its services to include mental health evaluations and professional counseling to YSVP youth, staff, and military veteran volunteers, which will be provided by Rush University Medical Center.
YSVP, which follows a comprehensive and trauma-informed mentoring approach to violence prevention, will also expand from eight to 10 Chicago communities YSVP’s expansion is supported by a $1 million grant from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA) with funds from the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) Community Violence Program.
YSVP currently serves Austin, East Garfield Park, Humboldt Park, Logan Square, Lower West Side, South Chicago, South Lawndale, and West Garfield Park. Thanks to the ICJIA award, YSVP has expanded to the Woodlawn and South Shore communities. The new clinical services will be provided on-site at three YSVP locations, removing many of the barriers to service access.
“This work is in line with Rush’s commitment to improve the overall health and well-being of communities on the west side. Through our engagement with the community, we know that mental health is a top priority. Our work with the YMCA will help address this critical need,” said Darlene Hightower, Associate Vice President, Office of Community Engagement and Practice Rush University Medical Center.
“YSVP is thrilled to work with ICJIA to expand our reach, quell violence, and promote healing through trauma-informed care. With support from ICJIA, we will continue to provide place-based services to youth and families impacted by violent crimes. The award also makes it possible for us to provide much-needed clinical services to youth and their veteran mentors,” said Chico Tillmon, Executive Director of YSVP.
Additionally, YSVP will be able to increase its outreach to current collaborators and community stakeholders to ensure that YSVP staff members are available when crisis intervention services are needed. VOCA funding will support case managers, who will provide education regarding available resources, offer transportation to and from appointments, refer clients to clinical services, and accompany and advocate for victims as they navigate systems. The additional team members will collaborate with outreach specialists to support, advocate for, and facilitate connections to outside services for clients who have complex areas of need.