- Community name: Waterbury
- Community or city website
- Population: 106,825
- Graduation rate: 86.3%
- Youth poverty rate: 33.0%
With a commitment to work through the challenges of their ambitious Birth to 21 Plan for youth, Waterbury has confronted issues in the community head on to improve the quality of life for young people and their families. Special community programs provide Waterbury’s young residents with direction and skills. Safe Home and Safe Places, for example, offer venues for young people to go if they have been neglected or abused. Health and dental care are also offered to insured and uninsured young people through the Health Clinic and the Smile Builders Program. The Waterbury Public School Systems now has Parent Liaisons at each school who are working to build strong relationships with families in order to increase family engagement. Additionally, more than 700 parents, youth service personnel, educators and youth have been trained to use the Search Institute 40 Developmental Assets as Waterbury’s “common language” for positive youth development. Due to this and other efforts, Waterbury now graduates 86.3 percent of students from secondary education.
- Bridge to Success works with the State Department of Education, the Graustein Memorial Fund and the Leever Foundation to support a wide range of after school, childhood, health and education programs.
- Safe Homes provides 24-hour care to abused or neglected children ages 3–12.
- Waterbury Public Schools have hired more than 700 parents, youth service personnel, educators and youth to act as Parent Liaisons to work to break down barriers to achieve greater parent participation.
- Safe places, like community centers and the Waterbury Fire Department, provide venues where youth can go in a crisis to receive assistance.
- The Bridge to Success Child Health and Development Workgroup aims to ensure children enter and continue school healthy, nourished and ready to learn.
- Smile Builders Program offers cleaning, sealant and treatment to over 1000 young people a year.
Education wasn’t important until my mom moved the family to Connecticut in 2003, which was a new experience for me. At 10 years old, my mother got my brothers and I enrolled at The Boys and Girls Club. I joined the YMCA Y’leaders program where I began to volunteer. That summer, I got involved in recreational activities and earned a greater sense of responsibility in doing something for the community.
I have been associated with a number of programs provided by Waterbury Youth Services, starting with my first summer job in 2007. I started the program very isolated, shy, and didn’t communicate among the youth very much. I wasn’t the isolated, shy person I was in the beginning and soon I was the leader in many of the programs I was associated with.