The ACE adolescent/young adult supervision model (Anyone Can Excel) was launched by Commissioner Bermúdez in 2016. ACE is a specialized unit and caseload that focuses on clients age 16 to 24, the group at the highest risk of re-arrest, recidivism, and gun violence.
First, ACE staff are specially trained to supervise young people on probation. They then follow a three-phased sequence, emphasizing relationship-building, regular in-home visits to promote progress, and strong community connections. ACE is a highly individualized, “one-size fits one” approach that staff and officers credit with helping clients achieve greater personal growth, as shown by this excerpt from a client letter.
“Being on probation has been the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. I know that sounds weird but there's nothing wrong with hitting rock bottom as long as you make sure to never hit rock bottom for the same thing again. Through probation I became an AmeriCorps member. My probation officer motivates me to be the best that I can be. She checks up on me to see what I am up to and how I am doing.”
— Letter from an ACE client
Probation Officers assigned to ACE receive specialized training in the Positive Youth Development (PYD) framework to learn how to effectively engage young adults on the topics of violence, peer relations and decision making.
Staff members also undergo extensive training in:
In this phase, we want to get to know the client, assess risks and needs, and build a personal rapport. First, we use either YLS or LSI-R for age-appropriate, validated risk assessment. The probation officer will then use the results of the assessment to create an Individual Action Plan (IAP) made up of realistic, measurable milestones with input from the client and the client’s circle of care. The IAP will be used in every meeting between the officer and the client.
The probation officer and client continue to meet regularly, with the frequency determined by the risk assessment. Officers use cognitive behavioral techniques, focusing on areas of highest risk and the risk-specific Stage of Change. This encourages clients to be active participants in their own growth, working with the probation officer to assess progress, encourage a positive attitude, and address counterproductive behavior.
Connections to the community help clients grow and make long-lasting change. We teach them how to navigate the community and use it as a source of strength that will sustain their success long after they complete probation. To forge those connections, we refer clients to individual mentors, group mentoring programs and anti-violence initiatives that help them avoid hurting others or falling into harm’s way.
Clients participate in groups using the Decision Points Curriculum to increase , encourage pro-social behavior and improve decision making.