Social and Life Assets

Developing social and life assets sets children on a path to success.

The complexity of the 21st century demands youth develop social and life assets that enable them to adapt to change, persist though challenge, innovate and create for solutions, and advocate for themselves and others when needed.  Developing these skills begins at birth and continues through adulthood.  Youth who develop and nurture these characteristics are more likely to engage in their community, develop healthy self-esteem, and experience success, however they define it.  Too often, children and youth shoulder the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES), or other family stress that precludes them from developing these assets. Our schools and many nonprofit partners work daily to develop the relationships, experiences, and systems to cultivate these healthy characteristics in children and youth throughout the region.

Despite these efforts, we continue to see that many do not feel the hope and engagement necessary for healthy development.  CCI partners are working in a variety of ways to address the Hope Gap reported through the Gallup Student Poll. In our region, 51% of Anglo students report being strongly hopeful for their future while only 36% of Latino students feel the same. Nationally, 50% of Anglo students and  46% of Latino students  report being hopeful.

Restorative Justice or Restorative Practice has been used throughout the country as a process for developing the most effective strategy to repair harm, access services and create accountability when a crime or harm has been committed. When it comes to youth substance use, restorative justice practices allow youth to access the mental and physical health supports that are needed. When substance-using youth are engaged in restorative justice, root causes of the use such as mental health issues, trauma, family dysfunction and addiction are identified, services are provided and the youth have the opportunity to re-engage with their school, family and community. When youth are only given a criminal or disciplinary process to navigate, the root cause of their use is not addressed, and they incur yet another barrier to their ability to succeed and move on with their life in a positive direction. Criminal or disciplinary steps may continue to be a part of the restorative contract but the ultimate outcome is a desire to have a healthy community member committed to a safe community.

CCI’s Positive Youth Development Task Force continues to collaborate with schools, law enforcement, courts, mental health providers, and youth serving organizations to integrate restorative justice practices into multiple systems. In addition, local organizations have been awarded state funding to expand the number of youth accessing restorative justice supports and the number of adults trained on the approach. When youth are engaged in restorative practices, they are much less likely to offend again and are more likely to stay in school.
“Individual trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.”
-- SAMHSA’s Trauma and Justice Strategic Initiative Report, July 2014, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

When schools, families, health and human services, mentors and coaches understand how painful experiences contribute to the way a child or youth participates in different situations, they can make adjustments to the environment, interactions, expectations and resources to support that child’s success. For example, children who suffered from maltreatment or neglect at home, could have a very difficult time concentrating at school. A young child living in a stressful home, could show aggression in preschool. An adolescent regularly using substances, could be coping with the impacts of a traumatic experience or constant stress.

By partnering with our regional mental health providers, CCI is able to strengthen the community’s ability to create spaces where children and youth can thrive, not just survive. This cross-sector connection is a great example of collective impact.
The Character Asset Task Force developed a Tool Kit to support the use of a common language among youth-serving organizations to develop specific characteristics that lead to success. Focus on developing hope, perseverance, creativity, and social responsibility will help youth develop a sense of purpose and to engage in their communities.  In addition to the Tool Kit, The SCE Foundation has published a Social Emotional Learning Field Guide that provides valuable information for nonprofits and school personnel.  

Social and Life Assets Resource Library

CCI Character Asset Tool Kit                                                                                      SAMHSA Website ACES
Social Emotional Learning Field Guide
The SCE Foundation
SAMHSA’s Trauma and Justice Strategic Initiative Report, July 2014