The 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office is a founding partner of the Adams County Youth Initiative (ACYI), a countywide collaboration of leaders in education, human services, law enforcement, nonprofits and other community organizations committed to decreasing delinquency and substance use while increasing high school graduation rates. ACYI was established in 2005 to tackle the critical issues that are hindering our youth from being successful in life. The driving principle behind the initiative is that these organizations can accomplish more by working together toward the same goals for success from the time a child is an infant through his education and establishment of a career.
As a founder of ACYI, we continue our strong collaboration with other partners in the initiative to give youth the tools they need to graduate from high school and stay out of the criminal justice system through ACYI’s Cradle to Career program.
Return on Investment
Keeping youth in school and out of the criminal justice system is the foremost goal of ACYI. Every child who drops out of school costs taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in services to support the former student. If a child becomes involved in the criminal justice system, the cost skyrockets. In contrast, every child who graduates from high school earns an average of $290,000 more over their lifespan and pays $100,000 more in taxes. (Meichenbaum, 1998,) Moreover, high school dropouts commit about 75 percent of crimes in the U.S. (Lochner & Moretti, 2004).
Adams County has a very large number of at risk youth:
- 16% live in poverty.
- Nearly half (48%) qualify for free or reduced cost lunch.
- 30% 9th graders and 40% of 12th graders report skipping school. In 2011, 10% of 9th through 12th grade students did not attend school on any given day.
- In 2011, 41% of high school students reported drinking alcohol and 28% reported using marijuana.
- Only 62% of our youth are graduating from an Adams County high school in four years.
Together We Succeed
No one agency or organization can improve outcomes for children and youth. ACYI’s collective action is needed to magnify the impact of all community resources helping children and families in Adams County. ACYI serves as a catalyst for working together across diverse sectors to achieve its Cradle to Career goals:
- Every child is healthy and starts school ready to learn.
- Every child succeeds in school.
- Every child thrives and contributes to their home, school and community.
- Every young adult is ready for college and career.
ACYI’s Cradle to Career program focused efforts this year on making sure that preschoolers are ready for kindergarten and improving reading among elementary school students. In Adams County, two in five 3rd grade students are not reading at grade level, according to the Colorado Department of Education. This is 10% lower than the state average. The American Education Research Association found that a student who can’t read at grade level by 3rd grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 18. When the child lives in poverty, a student is 13 times less likely to graduate by age 18.
ACYI also launched a drive to find mentors for youth. Among 6th graders, 12% reported that, outside of their home, they do not having a caring adult in their lives or an adult who they trust. By 9th grade, this number doubles to 24%.
The ACYI partners are focusing on the following goals:
- Improving integration of child health care services
- Ensuring that preschoolers are ready for kindergarten
- Improving reading proficiency among elementary school students
- Expanding access to adult mentors for at risk youth
- Decreasing use of drugs and alcohol
- Increasing access to college
Studies demonstrate that the ACYI program is working.
- Adams County has seen an increase in high school graduation rates for each of the last two years, increasing by 3.7% since 2010, which is a larger increase than the state overall average.
- Over the past several years, reported drug and alcohol use by high school and middle school students has shown a steady decline. High school students’ use of alcohol has decreased by more than 8% and marijuana use by more than 4% since 2010.
- The number of juvenile cases filed has steadily decreased since ACYI was founded. Since 2005, Adams County has seen a large reduction in juvenile crime, with a 44% reduction in juvenile cases filed and a 92% reduction in direct filings.
The partners of the Adams County Youth Initiative are:
- 17th Judicial District Attorney
- 17th Judicial District Juvenile Court (advisory)
- 17th Judicial District Juvenile Probation (advisory)
- Adams 12 Five Star Schools
- Adams County Education Consortium
- Adams County Human Services Department
- Adams County School District 14
- Adams County School District 27J
- Adams County School District 50
- Adams County Sheriff’s Office
- Bennett School District 29J
- Brighton Police Department
- Broomfield Police Department
- Commerce City Police Department
- Community Reach Center
- Crossroads Church – At Large Member
- Early Childhood Partnership of Adams County
- Federal Heights Police Department
- Front Range Community College
- Mapleton Public Schools
- Northglenn Police Department
- Strasburg 31J School District
- The Link – Juvenile Assessment Center
- Thornton Police Department
- Tri-County Health
- Russ Van Houten – At Large Member
- Westminster Police Department