August 1, 2011
Increasingly, cities have added street outreach to the mix of strategies used in comprehensive gang reduction efforts, drawing upon mounting evidence of impact. Street outreach relies on street workers to support and advocate on behalf of gang members, or those at high risk of joining gang, to change behavior patterns and link them to needed services and institutions. Street outreach workers work day and night to link marginalized and hard-to-serve individuals in communities with high levels of gang activity to social services, and play an important role in diffusing and stopping violence (Decker, Bynum, McDevitt, Farrell, & Varano, 2008; Spergel, 1966; Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention [OJJDP], 2002). These workers reach out to targeted community members at their homes, community events, on street corners, in parks, and in any neighborhood spaces where community members in gangs or at risk of joining gangs spend time (OJJDP, 2002, p. 54). Outreach workers often possess intimate familiarity with the communities in which they work. Their knowledge and skills allow them to work with individuals whom traditional service providers cannot access or support. California Cities Gang Prevention Network cities (the Network or CCGPN) note that street outreach services are an important piece of their cities' primary intervention strategies, with ties to prevention and enforcement. This bulletin identifies ways outreach programs can strategically support, care for, and hire outreach workers.