Blog: Community Engagement

“Read All About It” - Research Findings Published!

Reasons why I am proud to write this blog post...

Reason 1: My former colleagues (and friends) at The University of Arizona, Southwest Institute for Research on Women (UA SIROW) (UA SIROW) have been leading the efforts on the national evaluation of Juvenile Drug Courts and Juvenile Drug Courts blended with Reclaiming Futures (JDC/RF).  UA SIROW collaborated with Chestnut Health Systems and Carnevale Associates, LLC to implement a comprehensive evaluation that included data from Juvenile Drug Courts, Juvenile Drugs Courts blended with Reclaiming Futures, and non-justice related intensive adolescent outpatient programs. The purpose was to examine processes, outcomes, and costs.

Talking About Addiction

On June 1, 2016, our Reclaiming Futures national executive director Evan Elkin spoke at Red Emma's in Baltimore for Open Society Institute-Baltimore's second event in their "Talking About Addiction" series. Elkin was accompanied on the panel by Dr. Hoover Adger from Johns Hopkins Children's Center and by Carin Callan Miller, who founded Save Our Children Peer Family Support. The conversation was moderated by Scott Nolen, director of OSI-Baltimore's Drug Addiction Treatment Program. A full room of community members joined them for the evening, including families affected by adolescent addiction.

Youth, Addiction and the Juvenile Justice System

Whereas the first "Talking About Addiction" event explored alternative law enforcement approaches to addiction, this event focused on youth, addiction, and the juvenile justice system. Despite public acknowledgment of the failures of the "War on Drugs," and an increased understanding of addiction as a public health issue rather than a criminal justice issue, OSI-Baltimore recognizes that research and policy around adolescent addiction are slow to reach the mainstream. Indeed, during the discussion, some attendees expressed frustration with how long addiction treatment reform is taking; OSI moderator Nolen suggested reassurance that the addiction paradigm is finally shifting.

What Campaign Zero’s Policy Recommendations Mean for Our Youth

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Last week, Campaign Zero—an initiative started by prominent members of the Black Lives Matter movement—released a set of policy solutions to curb police violence and discrimination in the wake of several high-profile police killings, including that of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., on August 9, 2014.

Here we review a few of Campaign Zero’s key recommendations that would have a notable impact on minors, which is our focus here at Reclaiming Futures.

The Solution to a 27.47 Ton Problem

April in Dayton, Ohio generally means the winIMG_4366ter weather is starting to break. Snow showers and subzero temperatures are replaced with rain showers and flowers. For some neighborhoods in Dayton, Ohio the break in the weather brings light to a major issue. The issue of illegal dumping is highly visible once the piles of snow have melted away. In some instances, neighborhoods have been left with tons of trash and debris.  For several blocks certain alleyways can be found with couches, mattress, appliances and construction waste.

On April 1, 2015 Montgomery County Juvenile Court hosted its fourth annual community cleanup in the Fairview Neighborhood. This was a community effort, with multiple partners coming together to improve the appearance of one of our city’s neighborhoods.

[VIDEO] Community-Based Alternatives for Kids in Trouble with the Law

A new video from JJIE's Juvenile Justice Resource Hub explains how community-based alternatives can be more cost-effective and have better outcomes for teens than incarceration. Via the video:

All kids make mistakes; some get in trouble with the law. Instead of having a chance to learn from their actions, though, they're often sent to costly, dangerous facilities that make them more likely to commit new crimes.
What else can we do? Plenty. Many cost-effective program options, known as "community-based alternatives," have already been developed and tested that serve youth safely in the community instead of incarcerating them in jail-like facilities. Many alternatives have also been developed to divert youth from almost any point in the juvenile justice system.

[VIDEO] Vikram Patel: Mental Health for All by Involving All

An estimated one in five adolescents worldwide struggle with a mental illness such as depression, a panic disorder, an anxiety disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder. In the United States only half of those individuals obtain the help they need, yet in developing nations, far fewer are lucky enough to receive the appropriate care. In this TED video, Vikram Patel explains an approach to end the worldwide lack of treatment by training community members to care for others, similar to the Reclaiming Futures mission of community based care to help young people overcome drugs, alcohol and crime. Watch the video in full below:

Applications Available for CJJR's 2013 Juvenile Justice Certificate Programs

The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University‘s Public Policy Institute is proud to announce its 2013 Certificate Programs. In addition to the weeklong certificate programs in multi-systems integration, CJJR now offers shorter certificate programs of intensive study in information sharing, youth in custody, and reducing racial and ethnic disparities in juvenile justice.
CJJR programs target public and private sector leaders working in the juvenile justice, child welfare, judiciary, behavioral health, education and other systems that serve youth in, or at-risk of becoming involved in, the juvenile justice system. 
Certificate programs at CJJR take a multi-systems and multi-disciplinary approach to policies, programs, and practices that improve outcomes for this population -- including a focus on "crossover youth"--i.e. youth known to both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

A Community Approach to Juvenile Justice

This Fall, the Adler School Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice (IPSSJ) and its partner organizations with the Cook County Juvenile Justice Task Force published a concept paper (PDF download) outlining community-based, trauma-informed, restorative solutions to youth crime and conflict in Cook County, Illinois. The report provides guiding thoughts on how the juvenile justice system can better support young people while making communities safer. It also recommends alternatives to existing centralized juvenile detention approaches in Cook County.
The Adler School IPSSJ paper reports that the majority of juvenile justice dollars are spent in only a few zip codes. By using community approaches to juvenile justice, the Adler School argues that the county could get a much higher return on investment, along with lowering the risk currently posed by teen crime. Via the report:

...if the county does not reinvest these dollars in the communities of greatest need, it is asking residents of those areas to assume substantial additional risks to their safety without funding the types of programs and initiatives that could effectively manage those risks. This is a very real danger. As we all labor to design the best possible future for juvenile justice in Cook County, we would like your help keeping the above ideas and concerns at the forefront of the process. We know fundamental change will take years to responsibly develop; yet the time to begin the work is now.

Deadline Approaching for Information Sharing Certificate Program

The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform and the Juvenile Law Center are hosting the second Information Sharing Certificate Program in March of 2013.
The Informaion Sharing Certificate Program is designed to enable leaders in the juvenile justice, child welfare, education, behavioral health and other child serving fields to overcome information sharing challenges that prevent the communication and coordination that is necessary to more fully serve youth known across multiple systems of care. Upon completion of the intensive three-day learning experience, participants apply the knowledge they gain through the development and implementation of a Capstone Project—an action agenda they undertake in their organization/community to initiate or enhance information sharing efforts. To accelerate these efforts, it is strongly encouraged that those interested in attending form a team from their jurisdiction to apply to the program.
Applications are due December 20, 2012

To Keep Kids Out of the System, We Need Community Involvement

Most of the teenagers walking into my courtroom were 1st or 2nd time visitors. They didn’t want to return, and we worked with them and their parents to make that first visit their last one.
However, some kids need more support and intervention to change their life trajectories from negative to positive.
After seeing the same teens in court year after year, judges wonder what it will take to change the behaviors that keep bringing them back into court. Short of sending a youth off to a state prison, the options usually available to juvenile court judges include stern lectures and warnings, mandated community service, assessment and rehabilitative services, and electronic monitoring.
Sometimes judges reach a point where everything has been tried at least once, and yet the youth is again back in court with a new offense. When that happens, will the judge leave the youth with his or her family and try for rehabilitation again? Or will the judge think “been there, done that” and send the youth to incarceration far from home?
Sending any young person to prison can’t be equated with sending your troubles away forever. They always return. And when they do, they go right back into the same home environment, same community, and same group of friends or gang.

Addressing Underage Drinking at the Local Level

The Brighton Park Drug Free Community Coalition (Families Against Drugs in Area 58), based in Chicago, just completed our 7th year as a grantee in ONDCP’s Drug Free Communities Support Program. With National Substance Abuse Prevention month upon us, we recognize the importance of being unified across communities to influence a change in the cycle of substance abuse. Recently, our coalition has focused our efforts on the issue of underage drinking. Described below is one of our most recent – and most rewarding – youth events:
An alcohol-free ‘Quinceañera’
For young girls in the Latino community, turning 15 is a special occasion and one meant to symbolize their passage into womanhood. To celebrate this transition, families throw a "quinceañera" for the teen of honor. Once a proud tradition focusing on a girl's faith and values, quinceañeras today have become lavish parties with no shortage of alcohol.

After Treatment: The Role of Community-Based Partnerships in Substance Abuse Recovery

In honor of Recovery Month, I'm sharing the Road to Recovery's latest video on the importance of community-based organizations. Reclaiming Futures is a huge believer in connecting young people with long-term community supports so that teens don't find themselves in the same situations that got them in trouble. 

From the Road to Recovery:

San Francisco's Community-Focused "Wraparound" Approach Reduces Recidivism

Last month, members of CJCJ’s Wraparound team had the honor of presenting to juvenile justice leaders from select California counties at the Sierra Health Foundation’s Positive Youth Justice Initiative (PYJI) Speaker Series. Juvenile Justice Clinical Supervisor, Margaret Hitchcock and Wrap Rehabilitation Counselor, Randell Lewis, were joined by CJCJ’s Executive Director, Daniel Macallair, San Francisco Deputy Director of Juvenile Probation, Allison Magee, and Statewide expert on EPSDT and Wraparound funds, Joseph Harrington. As one of California’s model counties, the San Francisco collaborative was invited by Sierra Health Foundation to discuss its community-based wraparound approach toward serving high-needs youth.

(Sierra Health Foundation’s Positive Youth Justice Initiative - Applying a Community‐Based Wraparound Approach from Youth Empowerment Studios on Vimeo.)
This wraparound model would not be effective without the collaboration between the San Francisco Probation Department, Public Defender’s Office, other county departments and community-based nonprofits. As a result of this collaboration, San Francisco has seen a dramatic reduction in recidivism since implementation of the Wraparound program in 2009.

Department of Labor Helps At-Risk Youth ‘STRIVE for the Future’

STRIVE, a New York City-based organization with 21 affiliates throughout the United States, was recently awarded a three-year, $5 million grant from the United States Department of Labor for a new, nationwide initiative called STRIVE for the Future.
The program is centered on providing services and assistance to formerly incarcerated youth, with the grant expected to benefit about 400 teens.
A recent press release from the organization said the initiative will focus on juveniles ages 14 and older who primarily come from high-poverty and high-crime communities and were involved in the juvenile justice system, but not the adult criminal system, within the last 12 months.
The organization says it will provide numerous tools and services such as career development assistance and various forms of training and education for at-risk youth.

Closing the Business of Incarceration will Require Jobs, Reentry Programs

How do you bankrupt a brimming system of incarceration that is perversely incentivized to grow? According to New Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman, “you have to go to the source, and whether the source is education or whether it’s legislation, you really have to go to the source.” Gusman provided an upstream suggestion at the Loyola University New Orleans’ event, Louisiana Incarcerated: An Evening with Cindy Chang on June 26, 2012. However, many of the panelists pointed specifically to job training and employment as essential parts of the solution.
The event was centered around an acclaimed 8-part Times-Picayune series titled “Louisiana Incarcerated,” by reporter Cindy Chang. For the series, Chang talked with the formerly incarcerated and criminal justice reformers to get a complete story of the juvenile and criminal justice systems. The town hall styled symposium provided opportunities for panelists to offer their thoughts on the sources of Louisiana’s incarceration problems as well as potential solutions.
Concurring with Gusman’s perspective of root causes, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana Jim Letten said, “the most important part of our jobs is education and prevention. I wouldn’t have told you that 13 years ago.” Letten iterated what several panelists expressed during the panel sessions, which took place over the course of two hours.

Richard Buery: Community Engagement Vital for Juvenile Justice System

Over in The Atlantic Cities, Richard R. Buery Jr. of the Children's Aid Society has a very compelling piece about the importance of community-based rehabilitation centers in working with troubled youth.  
He explains:

Engaging the local community is vital to the rehabilitation process. For young offenders, receiving supportive services in their home communities, where they can remain connected to families and local institutions, offers the most reliable path for ensuring that they do not grow up to become lifelong criminals. For most children convicted of minor infractions, effective services can be provided while they live at home, avoiding the costs and negative impact of institutionalization. Yet for the past few decades we have failed troubled youth--the vast majority of them black and Latino (84 percent of all admissions in 2009) - by shipping them to juvenile detention facilities hundreds of miles away from home, often for minor infractions.
Cutting these children off from their communities threatens their often fragile family relationships. Worse, young people don't learn to become responsible adults at these facilities--on the contrary, they are often neglected and face abuse. And despite how ineffective and unsafe these facilities are, the city and state spend millions of dollars a year to keep them running. Compared to the alternative, the waste is astonishing. Holding a youth offender in a secure facility costs around $260,000 a year; alternative, community-based treatment programs can cost about $20,000 per child per year, and have better results.

Free iTraining: Adolescent Care Management

On the third Thursday of each month, the Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC) hosts free iTrainings surrounding various topics affecting the addictions treatment and recovery services fields. This month's iTraining is "Adolescent Care Management--An Emerging Health Care Reform Priority".
Training info:
Thursday, June 21, 2012
2:00-3:30 pm Eastern
Hosted by: David Jefferson, MSW, Northwest Frontier ATTC 
Dept of Public Health & Preventive Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University

Applications Now Available for CJJR's Information Sharing Certificate Program

The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University‘s Public Policy Institute, in partnership with the Juvenile Law Center, has announced its inaugural Information Sharing Certificate Program. This program, supported with funding from the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Initiative, is designed to enable leaders in the juvenile justice, child welfare, education, behavioral health and other child serving fields to overcome information sharing challenges that prevent the communication and coordination that is necessary to more fully serve youth known across multiple systems of care. Upon completion of the intensive three-day learning experience, participants apply the knowledge they gain through the development and implementation of a Capstone Project—an action agenda they undertake in their organization/community to initiate or enhance information sharing efforts. To accelerate these efforts, it is strongly encouraged that those interested in attending form a team from their jurisdiction to apply to the program.
Faculty for the program is comprised of information sharing, juvenile justice and child welfare subject matter experts from across the country who will deliver a curriculum designed to increase participants' ability to solve real-life problems when they return home. Thanks to the MacArthur Foundation, tuition subsidies are available for those with financial need.

Information Sharing Certificate Program
October 1-4, 2012
Washington, DC
Application Deadline: June 28, 2012

Using Graffiti to Improve Teen Outcomes in Denver

Graffiti is a common sight in the neighborhood around the Access Art Gallery in Denver – not inside, hanging on the walls – but scribbled, pasted or painted on nearly every dumpster and wall for blocks.
“There’s a lot of kids going back and forth through the neighborhood. There was tagging all over the place,” says Damon McLeese, the gallery’s executive director.
Like many places across the country, Denver’s streets show scars of vandalism: Stickers on street signs, scrawls of fat-tipped markers across doorways, and spray paint arching down from seemingly impossible heights.
But where many businesses would have seen an unstoppable scourge of youth defacing private property, McLeese saw an opportunity for a project that would redirect some of the kids’ creative energies and help improve the community.

Humboldt County's Regional "New Horizons" Program Delivers Impressive Results

Humboldt County's Probation Department is leading the way in utilizing innovative funding streams for serving California's highest-risk, highest-need youthful offenders. The department utilizes innovating funding streams in their New Horizons program to provide mental health in-facility and aftercare treatment in a way that puts rehabilitation at the center of their department's mission.
From Humboldt’s County Probation Department's website:

New Horizons, an intensive in-custody Mental Health treatment program, is offered within the secure environment of the Northern California Regional Facility. Treatment services include a combination of medication support, individual, group, and family counseling, alcohol/drug assessment and counseling, skill development training focused on anger management, moral judgment, the correction of thinking errors, social skills, and victim awareness.
The transition to the aftercare phase of the program, offered to both participants and their families, includes linkage to the Mental Health System of Care Services, out-patient counseling and/or medication support, and case management services. Individualized strength-based child and family case plans are developed using the Family Unity process followed by the integration of wraparound services to support the minor and his/her family throughout community care programming.