YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – In this segment of In-Depth, WKBN’s Community Affairs Director Dee Crawford talks with the CEO of Youth Intensive Services Dwayne Thompson.
Thompson said the organization was servicing the mental health of kids under 18 but now there are transitional youth that they also target who are 25 years old and younger.
“Youth has changed since we started. Now, you have transitional youth. Before it was 18 and under, now transitional youth are 25 and younger. We have seen that it’s beneficial to work with the parents also of these families. We service all ages at this point,” he said.
According to statistics, the largest age group to be a victim or perpetrator of violence in the Black community for 2021 and 2022 was 18 to 25, which could be why the transitional youth designation applies.
“Well that and state regulatory agencies changed the definition,” Thompson said.
Thompson’s organization is Medicaid third-party eligible, which is important for someone who has a member of their family exhibiting behaviors.
“Walk-in, referrals, both. We are working in school districts, too,” Thompson said. “We started in Wilson way back in 2013. At that time, we had a contract with the Youngstown City School District where we weren’t bound by Medicaid insurance rules and regulations. We were able to conduct services that were more in line with that the need was with that school,” he said.
In addressing the violence in the city, Thompson said that he has seen some former students fall victim to violence.
“We’ve seen a lot of those students murdered or in jail or in detention,” he said.
Born and raised in Youngstown, Thompson said that he graduated from Chaney and has been living in the city for 47 years.
“I’ve experienced trauma myself. It’s traumatic when you are walking through the streets and you have to get down when there are gunshots. It is traumatic when you got to look and see where the exits are when you walk inside a building. That’s traumatic and people don’t realize this trauma. A friend of mine, we take a lot about that. We don’t know that we have PTSD in the inner city because of all the trauma, whether it’s violence, whether it’s poverty or things of that nature. We don’t know we’re experiencing PTSD,” Thompson said.