Tom Harris Creates a Positive Environment for Nurturing Hamden’s Youth

by | Jul 6, 2023

Thomas Harris, Assistant Program Manager of Hamden’s phase I Youth Residential Treatment Program joined Community Partners in Action in April 2023. Supervising justice-involved youth takes a lot of energy and Thomas brings more than twenty years of experience running youth programs in Hamden, with the majority as program manager for the Job Corps Center in New Haven.

Why did you join CPA?

What really caught my attention was all the opportunities offered for the youth while they are with the program such as the schooling and vocational training center, including a recording studio, culinary arts, and a forklift simulator.  

My role involves supervising a team of Senior Youth Mentors, as well as other support staff who work with youth on daily programming and activities. The program operates 24 hours per day with three shifts a day.  I have a wonderful supervisor, program manager Frances French, who has more energy than the Energizer Bunny to keep the program running. There is a very positive culture here, one like I’ve never experienced before.   

There are also compliance-related areas to my job that involve working with external evaluators who audit our programs on behalf of the Connecticut Judicial Branch.

What do you like best about the role?

The best parts of my role are seeing the positive changes in the youth during their stay and all the assistance they are offered. I like noticing the confidence within the mentors working with the youth and when they create a positive connection, it’s powerful.  

I bring a combination of leadership and program management experience to the table. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to mentor several of the staff here when they were young men and women, and it’s so rewarding to see them now working and mentoring the teens we serve here in Hamden.   

What are the most challenging aspects of the position?

Learning all the moving parts that make the program work. I’m getting there, slowly but surely.

Community based diversion programs like the one at 995 Sherman Avenue in Hamden provides youth direct access to a range of therapeutic services with the goal of building long-term positive connections between male youth and their communities. Learn more here.