Team helps youths find right paths

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson Clovis High School cheerleader Ashley Southard and football player Isaac Edwards give high fives to Sandia Elementary students Wednesday following a presentation on staying in school.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

The newly formed Curry County Youth Resources Team is taking a holistic approach to addressing youth problems.

Comprised of law enforcement, school and social services officials, the team meets weekly to discuss Clovis students with truancy, behavior or criminal issues, Assistant District Attorney Ben Cross said.

Students are referred by school officials.

Wednesday’s meeting was open to media as part of a day-long presentation sponsored by the District Attorney’s Office to abolish chronic truancy.

A child displaying trouble signs at school may have an incarcerated parent, Cross explained, may be on probation, or the family has been referred to social services.

“We get all that information together so that each of us is dealing with the child and we can get a better picture of his (or her) needs,” Cross said.

The team estimated 80 to 90 percent of referred students have a parent or guardian who is or has been through the criminal justice system.

The team wants to bring an end to that cycle by working with parents and children.

“We have parents who commit crimes who come out and they don’t know how to be parents,” Probation and Parole Officer Riley Loomis said. “If we don’t break that cycle with these children, they’re going to end up in the same place their parents have been.”

If the family needs services to address financial shortfalls, mental or health issues, educational challenges or other concerns, the committee helps direct families to those resources.

“I jumped at the prospect,” Clovis Municipal Schools Federal Programs Director David Briseno said. “We had formed partnerships (before), but it wasn’t anything real formal.”

Briseno described the approach as a “one-stop shopping” approach to student issues.

Since its inception before the school year began, Briseno said approximately 20 students have been referred to the team and most of those are now experiencing success.

Jose Moreno, family services specialist for Clovis Municipal Schools, said he has seen a positive response from parents.

“(Parents) didn’t know where to go,” he said. “It’s the most positive thing that they’ve had in a long time.”

The Curry County Youth Resources Team is comprised of representatives from:
• Clovis Municipal Schools
• Clovis Police Department
• Curry County Sheriff’s Office
• Adult Probation and Parole
• Juvenile Probation and Parole
• Children Youth and Families Department
• 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office