An important part in reducing gang violence comes from street outreach programs throughout communities in the United States. Street workers can also be known as gang interventionists, street walkers, and gang outreach workers but they all work to reach out to youth and young adults in gangs. They strive to adapt violent and delinquent behavior; work with the gang member and their families; offer access to education, legal services, housing services, and mental health services; and act as a positive role model. While best practices of street outreach programs have not yet been established, outreach program practitioners have suggested successful aspects of current programs. These aspects include beginning with a structured program with well-defined goals, establishing clear roles and boundaries for outreach staff and law enforcement, and providing training for outreach staff and cross-training for law enforcement (National Gang Center Quarterly Newsletter - Fall 2013).
One effective program is StreetSafe Boston. The program “aims to contribute to a reduction of violence in Boston by focusing interventions on approximately 20 of the city’s most active gangs in neighborhoods disproportionately affected by gang violence.” The two core strategies are street level gang intervention and neighborhood-based service delivery. Street level gang intervention includes a team of highly trained Streetworkers that have street and community credibility to establish relationships with gang involved youth and influence them to engage in positive programs. The neighborhood-based service delivery provides case management and access to community-based services for youth involved in gangs. The organization also offers a transitional employment program, which gives participants an opportunity for on-the-job training and building life skills (www.bostonfoundation.org).