Mission: The mission of access youth, inc. , (access) is to provide at-risk youth with access to the skills, systems and support they need to stay in school and out of the criminal justice system. We currently work to curb the school-to-prison at three key intervention points - when student behavior puts them at risk of suspension, when students begin to exhibit truancy, and when students are arrested by the police for first-time, low-level offenses. Access is unique in our programming, approach and results. We are the longest-running diversion program in the district of columbia, the only nonprofit partnering with dcps to reduce truancy at the high school level, and the only nonprofit helping dcps pr suspensions provide high school student with alternatives to out-of-school suspension.
Programs: Soon after opening our doors in 2009, at the request of the metropolitan police department (mpd), access developed the early intervention juvenile mediation program (eijmp) to divert first-time youth offenders away from the juvenile justice system through participation in victim-offender mediation. Program goals are to: reduce recidivism rates; decrease truant behavior; and increase pro-social behaviors. Access is the sole source of juvenile-victim offender mediation in washington, d. C. To date, access has served over 1,000 juveniles through eijmp, of which 98% created mediation agreements, 95% successfully complied with those agreements, and approximately 75% have avoided rearrest. In 2012, access partnered with the dc public schools (dcps) to address student conflicts at the earliest point of intervention through the mediation as an alternative to suspension pilot (pilot). Program goals include: improving school climate by reducing violence, decreasing the number of suspensions and expulsions through access to mediation and conflict resolution. In 2013 dcps asked access to expand our work in local public schools by developing a truancy prevention pilot program, using our mediation model to identify students' barriers to attendance and help them create attendance plans that address these issues. The goal of the truancy prevention pilot is to increase in-seat student attendance rates and reduce truancy. In both pilot programs, eligible students in participating schools are referred to access to schedule and conduct a mediation session with all involved youth, their parents, and/or other relevant parties. Students leave the mediation with a written plan to address the issues, and are then monitored for compliance. We have served nearly 200 students in these programs. Of those in the mediation as an alternative to suspension program, 85% have avoided suspension for relevant offenses, and of those participating in the truancy prevention program, 66% have avoided court referral for truancy