Youth Assessment Center Enrolling Youth in Special Project During Upcoming Events at Market Place Mall

The front of the Youth Assessment Center in Champaign

The Youth Assessment Center (YAC) will hold special events at Market Place Mall in Champaign on Saturday, December 7, and Saturday, December 14. Each taking place from noon to 4pm, the events will enroll youth between the ages of 12 and 17 in a project that is part of a partnership between the YAC and the University of Illinois Department of Psychology. Individuals who participate will be compensated for their time.

The project, called VIP Screen, seeks to identify factors that contribute to healthy and unhealthy teen relationships, since doing so can be a major factor in helping teens avoid regular interaction with the justice system. Sponsored by the National Institute of Justice, VIP Screen conducts three surveys over the course of one year with each participant, asking them about situations of adversity they have faced in their lives, as well as individual differences that are related to emotional and behavioral well-being. The surveys are administered by UI Department of Psychology graduate students.

“The Youth Assessment Center’s assistance with this project allows us to strengthen our partnership with an area service provider whose goal is to develop a trauma-informed assessment protocol,” says YAC coordinator Jonathan Westfield. “This protocol is culturally competent and more closely connected to evidence-based prevention services because it focuses on dynamic risk and protective factors as opposed to historical static events.”

Individuals chosen for VIP Screen do not have to be YAC clients but do have to be referred to the project by the YAC. Participants are compensated for their time with a $20 Amazon gift card for each completed survey. Those who complete all three surveys are given an additional $15 gift card. The events at Market Place Mall to enroll youth in the project will take place from noon to 4pm near the food court.

A program of the RPC, the Youth Assessment Center serves as the primary center for intake, screening, and service connection for Champaign County youth and families. Case managers screen at-risk juveniles and link them and their families with the community’s support and restorative services. Law enforcement personnel typically make referrals to the YAC as an alternative to prosecution and to prevent further delinquent activities.

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