Roadmap to Peace – Connecting our most vulnerable and most disconnected Latin@ youth in San Francisco
Just three years ago, hundreds of community members—mothers and fathers, teachers, youth, abuelos and abuelas, counselors—came together and said YA BASTA! to the senseless violence and deaths of six Latino youth within a five-week period. Over 500 residents joined “el grito” to come together and collectively identify community solutions. “No more business as usual,” they said.
These meetings resulted in creating the Roadmap to Peace: A Community Initiative (RTP), a five-year community-driven systems reform initiative dedicated to transforming the health and safety outcomes of the 500 most disconnected Latin@ youth ages 13-24 years of age in San Francisco. We all know that the longer youth remain disconnected, the more they are exposed to increased risks that can have devastating lifelong repercussions. The RTP seeks to change these outcomes by providing an effective alternative. It was conceived by youth service providers, parents, and community participants who understand how and why disconnected youth fall through bureaucratic cracks. Rather than asking youth to accommodate to bureaucratic processes, the RTP builds systems around the needs of youth. How?
First, RTP is rooted in community-based solutions . We, the compilation of the Latin@ community: teachers, service providers, abuel@s, parents, etc. have the cultural and linguistic knowledge and wisdom to effectively heal and serve our Latin@ youth. So, for example, we know that, to effectively provide support for disconnected Latin@ youth, our model must embrace restorative justice, resiliency, trauma-informed, and intergenerational principles; our approach must be holistic and coordinated. RTP and our partners aim to be a national model for how working with Latin@ youth is done effectively.
Second, the RTP promotes on-demand services. This concept has been raised numerous times for various issues, and there’s a reason. It’s essential for disconnected youth. Linking youth to support and services when THEY need it can positively alter their life course. Currently, youth and their families wait—sometimes as long as six months— for help. By the time youth can finally be seen, their problems have worsened. On-demand services means youth and their families can receive care without waiting, thereby warding off increased risks.
Third, is the notion of shared care conferencing. You’ve heard the saying, “it takes a village?” What happens if there are no institutional processes for the villagers to collaborate on a care plan for each youth? That’s the system we currently have. On average, a disconnected youth needs multiple services and support for housing, healthcare, education, job training, and behavioral support. Additionally, providers seek to build on young people’s innate strengths to foster their resiliency, leadership, and personal growth through cultural arts, community engagement, and leadership development activities. The providers offering these various programs and services recognize the importance of shared care conferencing, but haven’t had the institutional support to carry it out. As a result, youth become frustrated and disenchanted with an overly bureaucratic system. RTP aims to create a coordinated, integrated service network that is designed to create a coordinated and personalized safety net for each young person so they don’t fall through the cracks.