Daniel was always in and out of his house. He had also been in and out of the Texas Youth Commission (TYC)—a state juvenile corrections agency—for about two years. The last time he got into trouble, Daniel was referred to Southwest Key’s Intensive Supervision Program in San Antonio. Through the program he was able to turn his life around “I felt like they were really trying to help, it seemed like they understood me, it felt like they were experiencing what I was experiencing,” says Daniel.
He says the program influenced him a lot. “I learned a lot of self discipline…it helped me become more responsible,” he says. Before the program, Daniel admits that he wasn’t very good at following through on his commitments, but working with Southwest Key staff, he has learned how to manage time and be more responsible fulfilling his obligations.
The Intensive Supervision Program in San Antonio was one of the first programs to open its doors when Southwest Key was founded 20 years ago. An intensive 30-day program, staff oversees every aspect of the participant’s life, on-call 24 hours a day. “We’ve got them covered all of the time,” says Maria Ruiz, one of the program’s caseworkers. Periodic home and school checks are conducted every day and the program helps participants complete their court sentences.
Daniel tells me, “They went all out of their way to help me.” He notes that while some support had been offered to him before by the system, Southwest Key’s approach has been the most effective. “TYC offered some support but it was optional, I never took them,” he notes. “This is a hands-on experience, they’re out there doing it with you so it gives you more support.” While it wasn’t the first time Daniel had been with Southwest Key, he says their persistence was worth it.
The Intensive Supervision Program also connected Daniel with parental support groups through Southwest Key’s Fatherhood Program also located in San Antonio. He says both programs have helped him set his life back on track. I ask him what his goals are for the future and he tells me shyly that he plans to be a fireman one day. Daniel will return to high school in the fall and adds, “I have a lot of confidence in myself now.”