Remarks as prepared
Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch
Community, Family and Youth Resilience (CFYR) Virtual Closeout Event
September 28, 2020, 9:30 AM
It’s wonderful to have this opportunity to gather and recognize the accomplishments of USAID’s Community, Family and Youth Resilience or CFYR program. Despite our different locations, I watched with keen interest the program’s progress and have participated in CFYR youth-focused activities.
I’ve had the pleasure of attending graduation ceremonies for youth who completed life and employment skills training and have listened to their elevator pitches– sometimes a bit shy, sometimes dynamic, but always purposeful. I’ve heard youth describe aspirations for themselves and seen their ideas for small businesses not only in Georgetown, but outside the Capital too, for example in Corriverton.
Throughout all these interactions, I’ve been struck by the aspirational visions these young men and women have for themselves and how the project has been able to work with over 400 young men and women in Guyana to build those visions and support attainment of their goals. Over 200 of those youth were successful at getting new jobs.
It’s been an inspiring experience and I am happy that we have this opportunity to reflect on the body of work of the CFYR program, commend those who have been engaged in that work, celebrate the accomplishments and note the challenges, so we‘re better informed as we embark on new programs.
Working with families has been a centerpiece of CFYR. Through the Family Matters initiative, 160 at-risk youth and their families in Guyana, totaling over 600 individuals, benefitted from family counseling. The Family Matters program was designed with the theory that youth resilience is tied closely to the resilience of the family unit. Academic research shows that improvements within the family system are linked with improved behavior among at-risk youth.
Essentially, better performing families, will mean better \performing youth. In CFYR’s final round of Family Matters, 81% of the engaged youth in Guyana were assessed as having reduced risk factors.
Like the family members, government partners have recognized the value of this program. Based on the evidence of its impact, the Guyana government will continue to fund its existence and offer its services to families of at-risk youth.
Another important area of focus for the CFYR program was Juvenile Justice Reform. In Guyana, CFYR worked with the Office of Juvenile Justice, the Magistracy, youth rehabilitation facilities and other partners to support implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act of 2018.
Some activities focused on the youth rehabilitation facilities in Guyana- both the Sophia Holding Center and the New Opportunity Corps- to improve rehabilitation and reintegration support for youth. The program developed and/or revised key administrative and diagnostic tools.
Following training and monitoring of staff, these tools are now in use at both facilities and have improved their services and efficiency.
CFYR also supported juvenile justice partners to establish an inter-agency working group that meets regularly, overseeing implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act.
Key CFYR partners like UNICEF, the Rights of the Child Commission, Child Link and others, continue to provide their support to improve the rehabilitation and reintegration support for youth in contact with the law. We thank them for being excellent partners of ours and the people of Guyana.
The CFYR program has definitely left its mark and has provided valuable lessons of evidence-based methods to reduce crime and violence among youth, families and communities. The program has also hosted knowledge sharing forums, bringing together youth, government representatives, the private sector and other non-government partners to share lessons learned and best practices in violence prevention, so that partners can improve their programs.
In closing I’d like to thank the CFYR team for its hard work from 2016 to date, working with our partners to create a safer, more secure and youth-empowered Caribbean region. Thank you to Debra Wahlberg for her leadership on the team, thanks also to Courtney Brown, the Guyana Country manager and his country office team. A special thank you to our many partners in government, private sector and the non-government sector who have consistently partnered with the U.S. government and done excellent work.
The U.S. government will continue to support resilient communities and has already planned to work with local organizations, locally elected representatives and citizens to improve community governance and support a citizen-driven agenda for development.
We look forward to working with all our partners to design and implement an impactful program that reflects the priorities of the communities.