State money targeting a reduction in gang activity will be coming to three cities in Santa Barbara County beginning in 2014. The Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) has funded the California Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention (CalGRIP) program, and awarded just under $1.5 million in two-year grants to Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, and Lompoc – a figure that’s18% of the statewide money earmarked for this initiative.

The programs funded will vary in each community. In Lompoc and Santa Barbara, the methods center on a comprehensive strategy of intensive case management, job search skills, on-the-job training, support for finishing school, and substance abuse prevention and recovery for 170 teens at-risk. In Carpinteria, funds target prevention efforts including mental health services, mentoring, leadership programs, and after-school programs for students at-risk in grades 4 through 12, as well as parent education, substance abuse treatment, and Teen Court for probation-involved youth.

Every CalGRIP grant is required to have a rigorous evaluation component. In collaboration with the program grant writers, Dr. Jill Sharkey of UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz School designed and will execute the evaluations for the Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, and Lompoc grants (Dr. Merith Cosden is co-PI in Santa Barbara and Lompoc, Erin Dowdy is co-PI in Carpinteria). The evaluations will examine the conduct (process evaluation) and the effectiveness (outcome evaluation) of the projects, documenting that all proposed actions occur and determining the success of the projects. Sharkey and her co-evaluators will also implement a quasi-experimental design for each grant to understand how rates of youth gang activity and violence for participants of the CalGRIP program compared to comparison groups.

“I am thrilled that our community has been awarded three CalGRIP grants that bring $1.5 million for services to youth at-risk for gang involvement,” says Second District Santa Barbara County Supervisor Janet Wolf. “This has been made possible by the strong collaboration in our community that is fostered by the South Coast Task Force on Youth Gangs, of which Jill Sharkey has been an extraordinary member. Dr. Sharkey’s work has been integral in bringing evaluation rigor to programs countywide, and I am confident that her leadership on each grant will help identify what strategies and services help youths at-risk achieve successful outcomes.”

Dr. Sharkey is a Lecturer in the Department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology. In this position, Dr. Sharkey manages the School Psychology credential program and teaches and mentors doctoral students in the school psychology emphasis. Her research examines school engagement of students at-risk with a particular focus on juvenile delinquency and gang involvement.


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