A Youth Support Coalition is a multi-disciplinary team of professionals working together to address the educational, emotional, and disciplinary needs of youth on a reservation who are engaging in fire-setting activities. The Youth Fire Intervention Program uses a coalition approach to address and support youth through the intervention process.
The Youth Support Coalition includes members from the Bureau of Indian Affairs Wildland Fire Prevention, Behavioral Health, Child Protective Services, Fire Department, Juvenile Court and Prosecution, Law Enforcement and cultural and recreational resources. All members of the coalition are devoted to the idea that children can and must receive basic fire safety and survival education. Depending on youth screening results, additional referrals may be made outside the coalition to mental health professionals and protective services.
The list below suggests partners that can be valuable assets when building a Youth Support Coalition and identifies the roles and services they may contribute.
Schools, including after school programs and recreation departments, often see or hear about kids setting fires. It is important to make school officials aware of a Youth Fire Intervention Program so that they know they may refer youth to it.
- Schools are a good location to offer primary fire safety education or conduct intervention education classes.
- Schools are connected to counseling services, which may be needed for some program participants.
- Schools may require youth to complete a program prior to being readmitted to school.
Wildland or Structural Fire Services
Fire service personnel are often the first to identify a youth's involvement in fire-setting activities. As such, they may be responsible for the initial intake and screening of the youth. It is important for all responders to be aware of the Youth Fire Intervention Program and know how to refer kids to it.
- Fire service personnel should be trained for intake and interview procedures so they can properly document information and recognize when kids need to be referred to other services.
- Fire service personnel can be very effective at conducting primary education since they can often share personal experiences with the youth.
Law enforcement is involved in the initial incident if a crime has been committed. They need be aware of the Youth Fire Intervention Program and know how to refer kids to it.
- Law enforcement personnel may recognize a youth having trouble in other areas, which may help direct the referral process.
- Law Enforcement personnel are trained in how to conduct interviews and interrogations.
- Law Enforcement personnel do not necessarily have to be police. Youth Detention Corrections Officers or Probation Officers are also effective partners.
Tribal Council/Court Representation
It is necessary for the Tribal Council and courts to support and work with the Youth Fire Intervention Program. They provide the authority to require a youth and his/her parents to attend the intervention program and complete some sort of restitution or face legal consequences.
Tribal Council coalition representatives should have a good working knowledge of the Tribal Codes as they relate to fire, youth justice and child protection. If those codes are not developed yet, they will be able to help with that process.
- Tribal Councils set the tone for how seriously the council is to address the problem.
- Tribal Councils can identify, prioritize, and commit resources from applicable departments to assist with the program.
- Tribal Councils determine program funding levels.
- Tribal Councils provide a pool of credible role models and mentors for youth going through the program.
- Tribal Councils assist with determining how Tribal members will be held accountable for arson and youth-set wildfires through Tribal Court systems, should individuals choose not to participate.
Mental Health / Behavioral Health Practitioners
Mental Health practitioners can provide additional assessments and counseling to children and families that are identified as high risks for recidivism or have other emotional or social issues.
Health & Public Health Services
Including Health and Public Health personnel can be great way to get information about the program out to the public. Brochures and handouts can be shared from those offices when families are visiting.
Health and Public Health partnerships may also include Youth Fire Intervention Program information in public service announcements relating to fire safety and burn prevention.
Other valuable partners for a Youth Support Coalition include Child Protective Services, Social Services and Elders Councils.