The Choice Program is a community-based, family-centered case management approach to delinquency prevention and youth development. Focusing on providing support in at-risk environments, The Choice Program empowers youth and engages families through a multitude of strengths-based services adapted to meet individual needs. Choice staff develop strong partnerships with youth and their families to build a youth’s capacity to successfully participate in educational, vocational and social settings. The program seeks to foster resiliency in young people by promoting protective factors to mitigate risk in their daily lives and ensure long term success.
Community Service-Learning Fellowship
The Choice Program recruits college graduates from diverse backgrounds and fields to serve in a one-year position as a Community Service Learning Fellow. The commitment provides Choice Fellows with extensive training, professional experience, and opportunities for personal and career development. Recognized by the Corporation for National and Community Service, Choice Fellows receive an AmeriCorps Education Award upon completion of contract. AmeriCorps' core values of "getting things done” and "strengthening communities” directly align with Choice's community-based approach. While serving as advocates and mentors, enthusiastic and dedicated Choice staff develop professional, caring relationships with youth.
The Choice Program, a not-for-profit organization, is administered by The Shriver Center at The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). The Shriver Center strives to engage the strengths and resources of higher education in finding creative solutions to some of the most urgent social challenges.
Key Components of the Choice Model
Caring Adult Relationships
Consistent daily contact between Choice Fellows and the youth fosters professional and caring relationship. Daily contact also provides numerous opportunities for informal counseling, information sharing, mentoring, and role modeling.
Choice Fellows interact daily with each youth, communicating clear messages connected with high expectations within the context of these supportive relationships.
Structured after-school, weekend, and summer activities provide opportunities for youth to be involved, learn to take responsibility, and contribute to their community.
Building Community, School, and Home Partnerships
Identifying and linking additional social support systems within a family’s community constitute a fundamental component of The Choice Program model.Connections are made with youth and families through case management and active involvement in the communities we serve.
Staff Development and Training
Choice relies on rigorous training and regular supervision to ensure that professional and supportive relationships are established among Choice Fellows, youth, key adult care givers, and supporters.Choice Fellows receive a minimum of 65 hours of training. These trainings include such topics as informal counseling, adolescent development, case management, family work, educational services, juvenile care, and safety and crisis intervention.
The Choice Program Difference
COMMUNITY BASED- GO WHERE THE YOUTH/FAMILIES LIVE, PLAY, STUDY, WORK
PARTNERSHIP WITH FAMILY & YOUTH
FAMILY & YOUTH ARE THE EXPERTS
INDIVIDUALIZED SERVICES- TAILORED TO YOUTH & FAMILY
BUILD ON YOUTH & FAMILY ASSETS
FOSTERS CARING RELATIONSHIPS
FOCUS ON RECIPROCITY
DEVELOPS HIGH EXPECTATIONS-
UNLEASH THE POTENTIAL OF YOUTH & FAMILY
PROVIDES MEANINGFUL PARTICIPATION- CREATE OPPORTUNITIES TO DEVELOP THE POTENTIAL OF YOUTH & FAMILY
WORK WITH YOUTH & FAMILY TO IDENTIFY & LINK TO SOCIAL SUPPORTS
DAILY FACE TO FACE
24/7 CRISIS RESPONSE
WORK FORCE, LEADERSHIP & ADVOCACY DEVELOPMENT OF CHOICE FELLOWS
CAN DO/SERVICE ORIENTATION
VOLUNTEER FRONTLINE STAFF IN A YEAR OF INTENSE SERVICE-LEARNING
DATA DRIVEN DECISION MAKING IN REAL TIME
MOVEMENT BUILDING LEADERSHIP