By: Emily McRae, AmeriCorps VISTA
The Reconnecting Youth Survey (RYS) was conducted in late summer and early fall in 2017 to identify risk and resiliency factors, and barriers to services among youth who are not included in school-based surveys. Surveys were administered to 457 youth between the ages of 14 and 26 years old throughout Santa Fe County. Of the respondents, 260 (57%) were Opportunity Youth (formerly known as Disconnected Youth) meaning they are not in school and not working. Topic areas included substance use, mental health and suicide, education, employment, family and relationships, abuse and violent behaviors, incarceration and arrests, sexual orientation, demographics and other information.
The survey was administered in an insightful and inclusive manner by youth who had experienced disconnection. Because of their personal connections to these issues, they had the motivation to get the survey out there and the knowledge of where to look for Opportunity Youth. The youth who took the survey expressed an openness and willingness to fill it out because they were glad someone was looking into the challenges they face and wanted their voices to be heard and help in finding a solution. The involvement from youth during the data collection phase really shows what a wonderful group of youth Santa Fe has and how much they care about solutions for the future.
We are excited to unveil the first in a series of 1-page briefings on different subtopics included in the survey. We are starting with a look at Connectedness – what it is in relation to this survey and how levels of connectedness impact the lives of youth.
We encourage this data to be used in equity and solution-based planning for the county. The information is very insightful as to the state of affairs for Opportunity Youth and the barriers they face in life and in connection. More to come over on the Santa Fe Data Hub!