The SISU Program follows the United States Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Deliquency Prevention (OJJDP) Gang Violence Prevention and the YouthBuild USA models
OutreachSISU's Outreach team works closely with local law enforcement, the courts, and the schools to track high risk young people in the community. Using social media and face to face contact, outreach workers connect with young people in the spaces where they feel most comfortable.
SISU's Outreach team is the first line of contact and the first line of communication with all SISU participants. Outreach workers can spend days, weeks, or months outreaching to a young person in hopes of connecting them with the appropriate services.
Outreach workers also serve as model and mentor for SISU participants. They maintain a presense in the SISU Center and the community. The SISU outreach team are experts in the local gang culture and take the necessary and appropriate steps to respond to instances of community violence, as well as assisting with mediation and trauma response. SISU Outreach workers are trained in peace making and restorative justice.
Case ManagementThe SISU Center follows a strengths based case management model and provides a variety of services to the most proven risk youth in Lawrence and surrounding communities. To begin the process, every young person completes an online intake and in person assessment with an outreach worker and case manager to assess risk factors and immediate needs. In addition, every young is expected to sit down with the mental health partner and complete a mental health assessment. Within the first several weeks, the young person and the case manager will develop an Individual Success Plan (ISP), which outlines their programming path at the SISU Center. The ISP identifies the young person’s short and long-term goals and the steps and benchmarks the young person needs to meet to achieve those goals. It is those steps and benchmarks that SISU is working towards with the young person. As the ISP is being developed, case manager and young person are also identifying and addressing the young person’s most immediate needs, including housing, child care, transportation, outstanding criminal and civil court commitments, and health insurance.
EducationOnce the intake and assessment process is complete, each young person is assigned to a programming area. Completing their high school education or equivalency test is given top priority, as a high school diploma is necessary for most goals.
Young people who are currently enrolled in and attending high school are encouraged, tracked and supported with their school work. Those young people who have dropped out prior to graduation, but are interested in re-enrolling will be supported throughout the re-enrollment process by their case manager.
Young people who have dropped out and are looking to complete their HiSET will be placed in the SISU alternative education program. The SISU alternative education program has two focus areas; project based learning and application of learned knowledge to practical activities, and completion of the HiSET high school equivalency test. SISU uses the TABE test to evaluate every young person upon entry into the program. Based on their TABE score and overall need, participants are broken into academic groups, working on academics in the morning, afternoon, or all day. The project based learning component works with the case management and vocational staff to incorporate real life situations or skills into the classroom and is intended to help students understand real world application. For the second focus area, SISU uses the HiSET Academy software to allow young people to work at their own pace towards test completion.
VocationalEach vocational training program is focused on a unique set of skills.
Participants are able to move between shops based on availability, their interests, and their overall participation. The landscaping team is generally the first placement. During landscaping, the SISU Outreach team is focused developing behavior modification focused soft skills such as time management, proper communication, appropriate attire and attitude, and conflict resolution. Participants may work in the wood shop where they continueto focus on soft skills while learning to use the tools necessary to function on a construction site. In the wood shop, the vocational staff will also incorporate academic skills such as math, geometry, and earth sciences into the learning process. In addition to learning the tools, young people will build small items such as little free libraries, shelves, and chairs. Participants have the opportunity to work in the SISU Screen Printing and Embroidery Shops where they are learn all facets of fashion while creating gear and clothing for the SISU program as well as local customers. The SISU Media Center offers coveted spots for participants throughout the program year. SISU currently partners with Omega Boston Studios to provide instruciton in various functions of the music industry, podcasting, and social media marketing.
Finally, when the opportunities are available, SISU's Vocational team will place participants into internships with local businesses. Currently SISU is placing participants into internships with a local auto detailing shop. SISU recognizes that the majority of participants will not make a career out of construction, landscaping, or screen printing, but believe that during their time at SISU they will develop the soft skills, while also developing a strong work ethic and appreciation for the work they are doing. When a young person is ready, case management begins a conversation around outside employment and training programs. Working with external community partners, case managers may enroll a young person into a vocational training and certificate program or help them prepare for and find a full time or part time job.
Social-Emotional SupportsThe SISU model is built on strong social-emotional development and mental health supports. Social-emotional development is built into every aspect of the SISU program, with staff addressing issues in the moment and redirecting young people in real time with restorative justice used to address more serious infractions. Young people learn very early on to leave their gang affiliations and their beefs on the streets. SISU has partnered with Children’s Friend and Family Services for over four years to provide individual and group therapeutic services for all program participants. Licensed clinicians conduct therapeutic group three times a week with participants. They conduct regular check-ins with all participants. Those young people willing to participate in structured individual therapy are enrolled and billed through their insurance.
Breakfast and lunch are provided daily, free of charge for all participants. SISU Outreach Workers provide transportation to and from appointments and job interviews. They advocate on behalf of young people in court and with probation, often times as the only voice speaking on their behalf. They will drive a young person to substance abuse rehab and accompany them to a 12-step meeting. Through a partnership with the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, SISU Outreach Workers and Case Managers ensure young people are accessing health services and testing.
RecreationSISU is not all work for the young person. Every young person has access to a variety of recreational programs and activities during their time in the program. The SISU Center gym includes a basketball hoop, fitness center and a rock-climbing wall. The SISU Center also has access to a full sized basketball court at Lawrence Family Development 580 Haverhill Street Gym. The SISU rec room is open during designated times each week. The rec room has two ping-pong tables, a pool table, chess and domino tables, a TV and PlayStation gaming system, and an e-gaming center. For the musically inclined, the SISU Center is home to a state of the art recording studio and performance space. Finally, SISU offers opportunities for field trips and outdoor adventures. In partnership with the Appalachian Mountain Club, young people are able to hike, camp, canoe, and snow shoe with all equipment and supplies provided by the AMC. SISU also schedules several field trips each year, including trips to Red Sox and Celtics games, museums, and obstacle and adventure courses. Field trips are open to all young people active in the program who attend regularly are actively working towards their ISP.