Blog: Positive Youth Development

Youth Mentoring Has Lifelong Benefits -- for the Mentor, Too

"Every day, mentors in communities across our Nation provide crucial support and guidance to young people. Whether a day is spent helping with homework, playing catch, or just listening, these moments can have an enormous, lasting effect on a child's life." - President Barack Obama, Presidential Proclamation, National Mentoring Month.
positive-youth-development_Mentor-poster Shortly after I graduated from high school, I became involved with a local dance group. It was organized to expose girls in low socio-economic environments to dance. To become one of their dance instructors was one of the toughest and best decisions I ever made.
I accepted the role with misgivings. As an avid dancer and lover of music, introducing high school females to the art of dance was the ultimate opportunity, and these ladies were the top performers chosen in yearly tryouts. But some were intimidating because of their history with the group. The young ladies had a bad reputation of individualism. Everyone had to have a solo. Working as a team was not on their agenda.

Job Coaching At-Risk Teens

positive-youth-development_teen-job-fair-sign As a follow-up to yesterday's guest post, "The Power of Second Chances: Employment After Treatment," I thought it would be great to share with you a fantastic post from 2007 by Barbara Dwyer called "Job Coaching," for mentors, professionals, and caregivers working with at-risk youth to prepare them for getting a job. (Hat tip to Paul Savery for calling it to my attention.) 
The article appeared in Children's Voice, a publication of the Child Welfare League of America's (CWLA). Here's some of the highlights: 

The Power of Second Chances: Employment After Treatment

[The following is reposted with permission of the author and its original publisher, Phoenix House. While not specifically about youth, its conclusions apply to older teens.
Do you run a vocational program for youth in treatment and/or in the justice system? Have thoughts about the role of employment for youth in recovery?  Let us know - leave a comment or drop me an email. --Ed.]
adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_young-man-shop-classI recently came across “Help Wanted: One Second-Chance Job,” by Jim Arkedis, which appeared in the Washington Post, November 12, 2010. 
In the article, Jim tells the story of his mentee, Tim Cofield. Tim is 55 years old, bipolar-schizophrenic, battling substance abuse, rotating in and out of jail, and unable to acquire what Jim deems the most important stepping stone in Tim’s recovery: a job.

Love is Like All the Colors of the Doors in Juvie

juvenile-justice-system_old-cell-doorHere's more poetry from teens in King County Juvenile Detention in Seattle. These youth participated in the Pongo Teen Writing program; their work appeared in a 2007 collection under the title, Love is Like All the Colors of the Doors in Juvie.
I'll start by quoting the closing stanza of a poem, "Dreams," by the Young Men's Group:
Hold on, be strong
Because if dreams die
Life is like being incarcerated
How's that for summing up the emotional and physical realities that teens in the justice system face? 

I thought the next poem was appropriate for this blog because of the insight the young writer shows into various kinds of addictions. (Follow the link in the title to see it on the Pongo site.)

Funding: YouthBuild Grants Available

positive-youth-development_smarties-with-dollar-signsNow's your chance to apply for a 2011 YouthBuild grant from the Department of Labor. The grant announcement describes YouthBuild this way:

[YouthBuild is] a youth development program that combines education, career training, and community service. In YouthBuild, out-of-school youth ages 16-24 obtain high school diplomas or GEDs while getting certified in construction and building low-cost housing for families in their communities.  

Grant amounts are expected to range between $700,000 and $1.1 million for up to three years of funding (two years of program operations, with one year of follow-up). But applicants will need to have formed (or work with an existing) collaborative that includes education/training, workforce investment, juvenile justice, and faith-based and community partners. Applications are due December 3, 2010.
More info: see the YouthBuild notice in The Federal Register.

Juvenile Justice System: Engaging Reentry Mentors - a Webinar

juvenile-justice-system_child-reaching-for-skyHaving trouble rounding up mentors for youth in the juvenile justice system?
Then you won't want to miss this webinar from the National Reentry Resource Center and the Center for the Advancement of Mentoring titled, "Identifying and Engaging Reentry Mentors for Justice-Involved Youth." (Follow the link to register.)
[UPDATE (Nov. 12): Go here to access the archived webinar and PowerPoint slides.]
The second of two webinars, it's scheduled for 12:30 pm PST / 3:30 pm EST on November 1, 2010. It'll focus on working with family members to identify "pro-social support" for youth, as well as finding and training extended family and other "natural mentors" in each youth's life to support the mentor and help the young person return to the community.
All of which sounds like it would apply to any youth in the justice system, not just those reentering the community from a locked facility.
According to the press release, speakers will include:

  • David Altschuler, Principal Research Scientist, Johns Hopkins University Institute for Policy Studies
  • Shay Bilchik, Founder and Director, Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, Georgetown University
  • Roger Jarjoura, Associate Professor, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; Founder, Aftercare for the Incarcerated through Mentoring
  • Dennis Talbert, President, Michigan Neighborhood Partnership


Roundup: Fiery Editorials on Juvenile Justice Reform

 juvenile-justice-adolescent-substance-abuse_news-signJuvenile Justice News

Youth Guides to Building Budgets and Logic Models

Work with teens in the juvenile justice system who sit on a youth advisory council? Do you need some help coaching them on how to understand budgeting or how to build and use ... (drum roll, please) ... logic models? 
The Finance Project is way ahead of you. They've produced two excellent guides:

  1. The Youth Guide to Budgeting
  2. The Youth Guide to Developing Logic Models

(Hat tip to

Young People's Networking Dialogue on Recovery - Apply Now!

adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_Uncle-SamImproving the Substance Abuse Treatment System for Young People

What does it take to build a system of care for teens and young adults that's recovery-oriented? 
A few days ago, I posted about what the adults think it should like.  Now Uncle Sam wants to hear from young people. 
In fact, Uncle Sam -- in the form of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) - is inviting up to 50 young aduilts aged 18-25 to attend a Young People's Networking Dialogue on Recovery on December 13, 2010 in Baltimore.
All they need to do is follow the link and complete the application form. If their application is successful, their transportation and lodging will be covered. But hurry! Deadline to apply is October 13, 2010. 

Recovery-Oriented Care for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System

adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_recovery-oriented-care-report-coverConsider this for a moment: 

What should recovery-oriented care for adolescents with substance abuse issues or co-occurring mental health issues look like? 

Have that picture firmly in your mind? Okay, good. Does it change if the youth in question are in the juvenile justice system? If so, how? 
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.
To aid you in your thinking, I'm attaching a copy of the report from a 2008 meeting sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The report is titled, "Designing a Recovery-Oriented Care Model for Adolescents and Transition Age Youth with Substance Use or Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders." Check out pp. 36-39 for themes from the meeting, along with specific recommendations. 
Just in case it's useful, you may also want to review this "Working Definition of Recovery." The actual definition's quite brief, but this two-page handout also includes guiding principles and elements of systems of care. Also, check out this report from the Coalition for Juvenile Justice called "Positive Youth Justice: Framing Justice Interventions Using the Concepts of Positive Youth Development." It offers insights about the benefits of using positive youth development to help youth contribute to community life.
Feel free to leave me a comment below.

Youth Mentoring: Kicking it Up a Notch

positive-youth-development_Seattle-CARES-event-flyerRecruiting mentors for youth in the justice system is all about making personal appeals to small groups of people. But finding those people who will step up with funds and their time is a continuing challenge.
That's why I'm spotlighting an upcoming event to be held in Seattle on October 15, 2010. The 4C Coalition -- one of the key partners in Reclaiming Futures Seattle-King County -- has banded together with other organizations to host an evening with Susan L. Taylor, Founder and CEO of the National CARES Mentoring Movement (click on the image at left to see the invitation). The CARES movement is focused on "[guiding] struggling Black children to academic and social success." And it appears to be growing -- its "mentoring circles" are, by my count, in 60 communities across the country. 

Roundup: Federal Grant Awards Announced

juvenile-justice-system_news-signJuvenile Justice System News

Turns out I should've linked to John Kelly's column in Youth Today, where he laid out a very long list of recent grant awards in the juvenile justice arena (subscription required) from the OJP's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). Among other things, he reported on awards for a multi-state mentoring initiative, violence prevention, gang prevention, family drug courts, and more.

Webinar: Improving Educational Outcomes of Youth in Juvenile Justice Facilities

juvenile-justice-system_youth-in-detention-with-booksOn September 14, 2010, the National Council on Crime and Delinquency's (NCCD) Children's Research Center (CRC) will present a webinar on "Improving Educational Outcomes of Youth in Juvenile Justice Facilities." (Hat tip to Randy Muck at SAMHSA.)
Presented by Janice Ereth, Ph.D., Special Advisor, Susan Gramling, J.D., Senior Program Specialist, and Andrea Bogie, MSW, Research Associate from NCCD/CRC, this free webinar will be held at 10:00 am PDT/ 12:00 pm CDT / 1:00 pm EDT. 

Roundup: The End of the "War on Crime" -- or Just the Beginning?

juvenile-justice-system_sign-reads-newsResources for the Juvenile Justice System

  • The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has completed its first-ever "Census of Juveniles on Probation" (CJP), which it says "provides critical data on the characteristics of youth on probation, the nature of their offenses, and how they are served." Initial findings were presented at the American Probation and Parole Association's Annual Training Institute on August 17, 2010. I can't find a report on line, but I expect it'll be out shortly. If I've just overlooked it, let me know where I can find it and I'll post it here. 
  • Work with Native American youth, or for a tribe? You might be interested in the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's (OJJDP) Tribal Youth Program Web site. There, you'll find funding opportunities, resources on culturally appropriate prevention and intervention strategies, and federally-recognized tribes can request "web-based resources, individualized technical assistance, or on-site training or technical assistance."

Top Ten Tips from Teens for Adults

Here's a brilliantly simple, inspiring video designed to get adults involved in the lives of teens. What a great tool for recruiting mentors for youth in the juvenile justice system! (Hat tip to Lane County Prevention.)
As the video mentions, adults avoid teens because they think they want to be left alone.
But nothing could be further from the truth.

Help Young People and Youth of Color Get Work and Stay in School

Want to help kids in the justice system? Just ask juvenile probation officers what the kids on their caseloads need to be successful. They'll give you a list -- but a surprisingly short one.
Two of the items on everyone's list: helping teens stay in school or find a job. But these can be a challenge for young adults in the juvenile justice system. Youth of color often face the biggest barriers - helping them in these two areas could impact rates of disproportionate minority contact (DMC).
Here's two publications from Public/Private Ventures (P/PV) that might help:

Roundup: UK Publishes Guide to Punishing Detained Youth -- and More

juvenile-justice-reform_old-TVJuvenile Justice News

2010 Recovery Month Toolkit is Now Available!

adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment-recovery_SAMHSA-Recovery-Month-2010-coverWant to plan an event for teens celebrating and promoting recovery from substance abuse? Want ideas from others?
SAMHSA recently released a toolkit to help individuals and organizations plan recovery events in conjunction with Recovery Month 2010, and to provide you with tools and educational materials to distribute in your community.
As we discussed in a previous post, 2010 marks Recovery Month’s 21st year, and we are celebrating with the theme “Join the Voices of Recovery: Now More Than Ever!” The theme emphasizes how high levels of stress may contribute to or exacerbate alcohol or drug use, which can lead to a substance use disorder or relapse. The toolkit also raises awareness about the increasing level of stress in society and the impact it has on addiction.
The toolkit, available online and in hard copy, is divided into three sections: media outreach, targeted outreach, and resources. The media outreach section includes tips and template documents to help plan and promote your events. The targeted outreach section provides details about substance use disorders that are tailored for specific audiences. The resource section shares information to help you prepare for events and suggests organizations in which you could consider partnering.

Mentors for Teens in the Justice System - Reclaiming Futures in Dayton Issues Call to Community

juvenile-court-mentors_top-story-WDTN In June, Reclaiming Futures Montgomery County in Dayton, OH, held a successful event asking members of the community to mentor teens in the justice system struggling with alcohol and drug issues. (Dayton already has a great track record in this area, having already recruited and trained over 190 "natural helpers" for these youth.) 
The event garnered a news story in the Dayton Daily News, “Kids in Juvenile Court in Need of Mentors,” and it was the "top story" (see right) on the evening news, in a story called, "Helping Teens with Mentors
Great work, team!

Related Post: Reclaiming Futures sites in Bristol County, MA, and Forsyth County, NC, also recently reached out to the community for assistance in working with teens involved in drugs, alcohol, and crime.
Bonus Related Post: Having trouble organizing successful outreach? You may be missing a key element from the community: families with children involved in the juvenile justice system. Check out this post for tips on how to engage these families and others.

Effective Practice in Juvenile Justice - and More: Roundup

Teens in Lockup - a Documentary and a Photo Project about Juveniles in the Justice System

  • juvenile-justice-reform_screenshot-from-JuviesClick on the screen shot at right to check out four short clips from "Juvies," an award-winning documentary from 2004 focusing on youth in California's juvenile justice system who were tried as adults and received extremely harsh sentences (photo at right is of "Sandra). You might also be interested in the "syllabus" assembled by the filmmakers in response to frequent requests for additional classroom resources to supplement the film.