By Tara Grieshop-G..., August 25 2011
[Editor's note: We're extremely proud of the work Kentucky has done with the Reclaiming Futures model to serve the needs of teens in the juvenile justice struggling with alcohol, drugs and crime.
Given the tenacity of our Kentucky contingent, it's only to be expected that they'd find a creative way to apply the Reclaiming Futures model in a new way -- and what Kentucky Youth Advocates proposes below may be a promising indication of the model's applicability to other problems relating to young people in the juvenile justice system. We're gratified that Kentucky recognizes the power of the model to drive change at the systems level.
Though we're pleased that the model is gaining traction, the Reclaiming Futures national program will continue to focus on youth in the juvenile justice system with alcohol and drug issues. We were launched by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2001 because that population was not getting the services it needed, and though progress has been made, there's still a lot to do.]
Many things make me proud to call Kentucky home – beautiful horses, great college basketball, and friendly people. But behind the rolling hills, the thrilling games, and smiling faces, are several things about my great state that make me concerned. Kentucky frequently ranks at the bottom of the pile on health, economic well-being and other measures of how children are faring. One particularly disconcerting benchmark is the frequency with which our youth end up being locked up for things like skipping school or running away from home. Kentucky has the second-highest rate in the nation of doing so.
This brings me back to feeling proud – proud of how local communities and state leaders are responding to the need for changes to how we currently handle youth charged with status offenses in Kentucky. Lawmakers are looking at options on the legislative front. Communities across the state are trying to address the needs of youth in different ways that don’t result in the child being locked up.
When Kentucky Youth Advocates (KYA) convened a group of interested stakeholders a couple of years ago, one thing was clear – there was broad agreement that a guide to help communities work through a way to work with youth charged with status offenses, often with complex needs, would go a long way towards reducing the use of lock-up for this population.
The Reclaiming Futures model was soon raised as an option, because of its success in Kentucky and its thorough approach to identification, assessment, and service coordination. Kentucky partners Kari Collins and Michelle Kilgore are former project directors and current national coaches with the Reclaiming Futures initiative. Having worked on the implementation of Reclaiming Futures in two Kentucky sites, they knew the strength of the framework and how well it worked with Kentucky’s infrastructure.
With assistance from Kentucky partners and the Reclaiming Futures National Program Office, KYA modified the framework to focus on youth charged with status offenses. The framework builds on the national model while using the Kentucky context and existing structures.
The Kentucky Reclaiming Futures framework identifies the critical stages of implementing a successful plan for youth who have been or are at risk of being charged with a status offense. The framework consists of six stages that direct how the juvenile justice system, other youth serving agencies and organizations, and the community can work together to reduce the secure detention of youth charged with status offenses and work toward positive outcomes for these youth and their families.
>>Download Reclaiming Futures in Kentucky: Applying a proven framework for an effective community and judicial response to status offenses and other complex needs of youth in rural and urban settings.
Tara Grieshop-Goodwin serves as a Deputy Director at Kentucky Youth Advocates, where she oversees the juvenile justice, KIDS COUNT, and economic well-being portfolios. During her eight-year tenure at KYA, Tara has played a key role in state-level policy change, including passage of graduated drivers' license and child booster seat laws, and has renewed KYA's juvenile justice work. Tara serves on the State Advisory Group's Subcommittee for Equity and Justice for All Youth (SEJAY).
Updated: February 08 2018