Renate Reichs is the Network Coordinator of the Reclaiming Futures site in Cook County, Illinois. She also coaches two new Reclaiming Futures sites: Forsyth County, NC; and Crossroads, NC, a collaboration of Iredell, Surry, and Yadkin counties. Last month, she made her first site visit to these sites. This is her report:
I'm not from the South, so the first lesson I learned when I visited my North Carolina sites was that I didn’t know how to talk. However, everyone was most kind about correcting my “FOR-syth” to For-SYTH”, “Appa-lay-chin” to “Appa-latch-an”, and “Ear-a-dell” County to -- well, I’m still working on that one.
The strengths of both sites were readily apparent. Although Forsyth County is more urban (think Winston-Salem), and Yadkin, Surry, and Iredell (“R-dale”--?) are more rural (think Mr. Airy and Andy Griffith), both sites have committed, experienced, and professional fellows well versed in cooperative planning and collaboration. There is also a zeal for the tasks involved in Reclaiming Futures that's very energizing.
This is especially noticeable at the Crossroads site, as there are three counties working together, meeting on a regular basis, and assembling and smoothing disparate pieces to fit the Reclaiming Futures Model. Specifically, they have regularly-involved people who are not “Fellows” to bring a wider pool of experience, commitment, and knowledge to the table. For its part, Forsyth County has chosen to expand Reclaiming Futures from its established drug treatment court, championed by its Judicial and Justice Fellows, thus starting on a firm foundation.
All of that is good news. However, one of the challenges that both sites face -- and it is huge -- is a lack of treatment resources. There's great enthusiasm for implementing better screening and assessment tools (everybody was off and running with their rapid cycle test for screening), but the “Then what?” question looms large:
- What if the kids funneled through screening and assessment completely overwhelm treatment capacity?
- How do we grow treatment—good treatment, administered by professionals?
- Where do the dollars come from?
- Is Reclaiming Futures capable of pushing treatment expansion, and exactly how does that happen?
We'd love to hear from sites that have successfully answered these questions or are grappling with the same problems. Forsyth , Crossroads (is that “Ire-dale”?), and I await your wisdom.
Updated: December 18 2008