For more than ten years Youth Connections Unlimited, under the leadership of David Taft, has worked in a successful partnership with the Sacramento County Probation Department creating and providing direct services and programs to young people. The programs are designed to divert youth at the threshold of entering the system as well as serving those youth who have formally entered the system and are under the jurisdiction of the Probation Department.
Mr. Taft has successfully directed the organization and built an excellent reputation in the Sacramento Community and Juvenile Justice Community. His reputation is for strong program management and insuring organizational fidelity.
During Youth Connections Unlimited partnership with the Sacramento County Probation Department, the organization has recruited approximately 1,000 volunteer and program interns.
Over the years interns and volunteers have provided direct service delivery to right at 18,000 at-risk-youth and juvenile offenders. But for the YCU’s programs, these youth just entering the justice system, would receive no or virtually no services. The Probation Department could not have successfully addressed the needs of the needs of this population.
The direct services they provide to youth and families are cost effective and truly contribute to the positive quality of life and safety in our Sacramento communities.
Chief Probation Officer (Ret.)
This letter is intended to provide a strong recommendation for David Taft, who for the past year has served Probation youth at our residential treatment program, the Sacramento Assessment and Treatment Center. I have been able to witness how expertly he has established and operated a very large volunteer mentorship program, which I understand has been in highly successful operation for many years under the expert leadership and remarkable organizational capability of David. For our program, David has provided a large number of creative, caring, and highly useful mentor activities for our clients, who often have difficulty trusting adults.
He has been able to mobilize literally hundreds of dedicated volunteer mentors, and thereby reached hundreds of Sacramento Probation youth who desperately need positive guidance, in addition to the treatment, structure, help, and guidance they and their families can find at our residential treatment program and from the Probation Department.
Because of his many talents and abundant energy, David has been able to build a highly effective, smoothly operating mentorship program that superbly fills in where the professional law enforcement, education, and mental health programs stop, and forms a very strong collaborative effort.
Mark CONROY, Ed.D., LCSW
Director of Mental Health Services
As a prosecuting attorney for more than thirty years and as a juvenile prosecutor for more than eleven years I have witnessed first hand the potential value of this type of program. Most of the youth who are detained for criminal behavior typically clean up their act while in custody. Troubled youth who have lacked structure and adult supervision find themselves in an environment where there is structure and adult supervision, However, many of these youth return to enviroments lacking positive adult guidance.
The Youth Connections Unlimited-Probation collaborative mentoring program provides continuation of positive adult guidance for the most high risk youth as they reenter their home environments. The positive pro-social strides that many of these high risk youth accomplish in custody will be enabled to be continued out of custody because of this innovative program. It will thereby help prevent a return to a criminal lifestyle.
Few juvenile justice programs are likely to ever approach the chances for sustained success in helping our community’s most high risk youth.
Supervising Deputy District Attorney
Over the past decade youth in Sacramento County have benefited from the dedication of dozens of volunteers working under the guidance of Youth Connections Unlimited. The accomplishments are amazing. A myriad of needed services such as mentoring, tutoring and transitioning youth successfully back into the community have been offered at virtually no cost to the County. Other services have offered victim mediation opportunities and student internships.
Prevention programs such as this one can help turn young people around into productive citizens at a time when other traditional resources are no longer available.
I congratulate Mr. David Taft for his dedication and heartily endorse the continuation and expansion of the goals of Youth Connections Unlimited.
Allan H. Lammers
Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Commission
As a Professor of Criminal Justice, I require my students to get first hand experiences working with at risk population through a service learning/community service model that utilizes Youth Connections- Unlimited-Probation as a partner. In fact this partnership has been so effective that many of my former students continue to work as mentors for at-risk youth through that partnership, long after they have finished my course
Youth Connections Unlimited- Probation builds upon their successful partnerships with other agencies and institutions and incorporates ‘best practices” from the OJJDP Model Programs Guide (such as mentor services lasting 12 months or longer) and OJJDP mentoring program performance measures. These performance measures are based upon realistic goals and aligned with evidence based practices. These goals are to reduce juvenile delinquency, reduce gang involvement, improve academic performance, and reduce dropout rates.
I want to strongly endorse this program.
Dr. Cecil E. Canton, Professor
Division of Criminal Justice
People Reaching Out (PRO), a community-based Public Benefit Corporation (501) (c) (3),
supports the work of Youth Connections Unlimited and is interested in future collaborations to
provide mentoring services to incarcerated youth in Sacramento County.
Youth Connections Unlimited provides a necessary service for incarcerated and re-entry youth in Sacramento by matching them with caring adults that can assist them with transition back into everyday life. Working with this population of young people is filling a void that currently exists within the Sacramento mentoring community, and therefore makes Youth Connections Unlimited a critical component of youth services in Sacramento.
President and CEO of People Reaching Out
The impact of a mentor who will engage in a personal life on life relationship has been proven to be the best intervention for long term change. (Carnegie Study 2001) In most programs, change is elevated in short span of time that is focused on one or two educational components. While education is important, it has also been demonstrated that once the controlled environment is concluded the behaviors will be repeated, unless there is a mentor who will be an ongoing resource and encouragement
Dave Taft has been successful in recruiting mentors from the community that care about young people. Young people who have experienced life challenges and need the encouragement to make good decisions about their future
We need more programs like the one Dave has been able to build, but it takes someone like Dave to be a community activist, to take time to recruit, train and supervise a team of volunteers.
I have seen the impact on individual young people. I have worked with young people for over thirty years, and we need more programs and people like Dave in the community.
As Supervisor, I see the need for services for the youth of this community. Youth Connections Unlimited has changed the lives of many who reside in the County of Sacramento by giving them a chance to improve their lives and by offering them classes and mentoring support services.
Youth Connections Unlimited has my full support.
Chair, Board of Supervisors.
Supervisor, District One