Debra is a hardworking St. Paul mom and an extremely proud parent. Working two part-time jobs means that she’s not always home to supervise her three young kids.
Three years ago, Debra’s oldest girl, Shamira, went to the park with another friend and vandalized the playground, setting fire to the equipment. Just 9 years old at the time, Shamira was charged with several first-time offenses.
While Shamira’s actions were deeply troubling, there was a positive outcome in that the family was connected to 180 Degrees’ All Children Excel (ACE) program. ACE provides case management services to children who are at the highest risk for becoming repeat juvenile offenders.
Debra recalls her first meeting with Chaz Hooten, ACE’s Program Manager: “I was ashamed and scared for my daughter…but Chaz listened without judging me.” He helped the family access food from a nearby food shelter, a critical step in building trust. This first meeting marked the beginning of a long-term relationship – as ACE Case Management services continue until the youth turns 18.
Chaz enrolled Shamira in a youth basketball program to keep her off the streets with ACE covering the cost of program fees and new basketball shoes, expenses that had been barriers to enrollment in the past. With each practice , Shamira gained skills and confidence.
Debra benefitted from Chaz and the ACE programs expertise in deterring youth from further involvement with criminal behavior. Debra practiced setting clear expectations and consequences for her kids. With new family goals, Debra became more confident in her role as a parent.
Today, three years later, none of Debra’s kids have been involved in criminal activity. While the family still struggles with having enough income and resulting family relocations, with help from the ACE program, Debra’s kids are learning how to be responsible and are setting goals for the future. Shamira has a special goal: she wants to work for 180 Degrees’ ACE program and help other youth succeed.
180 Degrees partners with Ramsey County to operate ACE (All Children Excel) which is a long-term comprehensive and proactive case management to children under age 10 who have committed offenses that would meet the criteria for prosecution if they were older.
For more information on ACE, visit www.180degrees.org/all-children-excel