Blog: Reclaiming Futures

Reclaiming Futures' New Partnership and Development Director - an Interview

Photo of Mark FulopI’m excited because we’ve hired Mark Fulop, M.A., M.P.H. (pictured at left), to serve as the Partnership and Development Director for Reclaiming Futures. As you’ll see from the interview below, Mark’s got an interesting background and an intriguing take on our mission. (And be sure you check out his insightful way of looking at sustainability.) –Benjamin  
BC: What made you want to join the Reclaiming Futures team?
 
Mark: It’s a project that focuses on the strengths of young people and concurrently does not let the community off the hook for their responsibility for their kids. It says, “Your work isn’t done until every young person entering the juvenile justice system with a substance use issue is met with opportunity and not obstacles.”
 
And that's inspiring because it means Reclaiming Futures takes up the human rights challenge of youth--the way we as a nation
disempower youth by labeling them as “at-risk” or “troubled." That disempowerment can be seen in dropout rates, substance abuse rates and incarceration rates. When I realized Reclaiming Futures' deeper vision and ethos was to tackle this issue, I didn’t hesitate to join the team. 

Youth Leadership Curriculum - Recommendations?

Kelly Graves has a question for you.
Kelly, who is Associate Director & Research Assistant Professor at the Center for Youth, Family, and Community Partnerships at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, is a Community Fellow associated with the Reclaiming Futures site in Guilford County, NC. Her agency will be offering a youth leadership series for teens in the justice system with alcohol and drug issues and is beginning its planning now.
So: any advice for Kelly on a good (ideally evidence-based) youth leadership curriculum aimed at youth with substance abuse issues who are also in trouble with the law? 
Feel free to contact Kelly directly, or leave a comment below. 
I'll share anything I learn.

Federal Funding for New Reclaiming Futures Sites

moneyRunning a juvenile drug court? Interested in adopting the Reclaiming Futures model?
 
Good news: there's $3.675 million available to help you do it, thanks to the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), acting in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

Young Inmates Make a Film

Want to do something positive with teens in the justice system? Give them a camera. Teach them how to use digital media.
Who knows? They might make a movie about the danger of making false assumptions about  other people -- passing judgment on themselves, for example.
Don't believe me? Check out the trailer for a film made by nine young inmates in jail in Westchester County, NY (right next door, by the way, to the Reclaiming Futures site in Nassau County, NY). According to The New York Times, their movie, "Judgement," was recently screened before "a packed house." Two of the young men were able to attend in person; several more, still incarcerated, attended by video feed. (UPDATE: the film is available at YouTube in two parts - thanks to Youth Today's blog for the tip!)
Hint to Reclaiming Futures sites: having youth in the justice system tell their stories is a great sustainability tool, and it helps inspire community members to get involved in their lives. 

Roundup: A&D Prevention Saves Money (Lots); Study Shows Providers Can Safely Cut Paperwork (Lots); Treatment Fellows Meet, and More

newspaper

  • A new Iowa State University study shows that $1 invested in prevention saves $10, according to JoinTogether.
  • JoinTogether also reports on a study from the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment that treatment providers can cut up to 6 hours of paperwork per client, without compromising quality of care. Interestingly enough, the researchers teamed up with the director of the Delaware agency overseeing alcohol and drug treatment to survey and work with all substance abuse treatment programs statewide on reducing their paperwork burden. The six-month effort yielded significant positive results - not least an improved relationship between providers and the state.

"Youth News" Launched by Hocking County, Ohio

NewsletterReclaiming Futures Hocking County launched “Youth News”, a quarterly newsletter, in February. The first issue includes an interview with Natasha Cook, a young woman helped by the local juvenile court; a story about the difference positive relationships with family, community and church made in the life of Juvenile Probate Judge Richard Wallar when he was a 15-year-old – the average age of a young person in the juvenile justice system; and lists of volunteer, educational and recreational opportunities for teenagers in the area. The seven-page publication is edited by Gretchen Gregory with help from writers Christa Myers and Rev. Mark Daniels.

Great job, Hocking County!

Enrolling Kids in Medicaid and CHIP - What Works

person directing someone using a pencilThe Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJ) has just funded a 4-year, $15 million initiative to help eight states increase kids' enrollment in Medicaid and  the states' Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Grantees include three states in which Reclaiming Futures is operating -- Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York -- as well as Alabama, Louisiana, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. An estimated 7 million children in the United States are eligible for -- but not enrolled in -- Medicaid and CHIP. Along with other needed health care, these programs can pay for alcohol and drug treatment for teens.

Reclaiming Futures in Uncertain Times - Needed Now More than Ever!

compass pointing NorthComplicated times… In so many ways, youth advocates have access to more helpful information, inspiration, role models and heroes than ever before. We have movements, evidence-based practices, champions and momentum for a variety of important reforms and improvements across a range of youth-serving systems. 
At the exact same time, we watch disparities grow, budgets strain under pressure, poverty persist among too many. Within Reclaiming Futures communities, even those who have been the most successful implementing the model feel they must rigorously defend each and every aspect of their programs in these budget-trimming times. 
 
Yet now more than ever before, it's essential to focus on our key components:

Two Judges Paid to Send Juveniles to Detention - Lessons Learned

scales of justice blocked outChances are, you saw the news that two judges in Pennsylvania pleaded guilty last week to charges that for five years, they funnelled teens into detention in exchange for $2.6 million in kickbacks. This, after they'd worked to get the county-run detention center shut down in 2002. An estimated 5,000 juveniles who appeared in court were victimized this way; many for behavior that should never have landed them in court in the first place. A class-action lawsuit brought by the Juvenile Law Center is in the offing, and possibly -- hopefully -- charges against those running the private detention centers. 
This is appalling news. But it's also unusual. Juvenile court judges deserve the trust we place in them; they have a difficult job, trying to use the power of the court to help young people turn their lives around. 
What can more fortunate jurisdictions, then, learn from this story? I came away thinking about two things:

Changing the Juvenile Court - How to Get Buy-In

Gregg Roth, Reclaiming Futures Nassau County, NY from Reclaiming Futures NPO on Vimeo.

[Gregg Roth is a prosecutor in the Nassau County Juvenile Drug Treatment Court and a member of the Nassau County Juvenile Drug Treatment Court/Reclaiming Futures Change Team. -Ed.]

Teen Substance Abuse Treatment and the Juvenile Court - Technology Helps Coordinate Services

[John Kelly, pictured below, is Associate Editor at Youth Today. His complete article is available to subscribers on the paper's website.-- Ed.]
In Indiana, a couple of techies built a case management system, Quest, that connected all the integral parties associated in juvenile and family court cases. It enabled judges to handle motions and docket changes online, staff to draft orders in real time, and juvenile justice officials to measure data and progress seamlessly.
Staffs in counties that use Quest swear by it; observers usually leave in awe when they are first introduced to it. I first saw how the system works when Indianapolis Judge Marilyn Moores off-handedly showed it to an audience during a presentation about truancy courts. About half the crowd stayed after the session to ask questions, but not about the truancy court.

Reclaiming Futures Kicks Off in Orange & Chatham Counties, North Carolina

Susan PowellJudge ScarlettOur project site in Orange and Chatham Counties, North Carolina, recently held its kick-off meeting, generating lots of excitement. Susan Powell, Community Fellow for the site -- pictured on the far left -- wrote in to tell us about it:
On Thursday, January 22, 2009, the Orange Chatham Counties Reclaiming Futures initiative hosted its kick-off meeting. Reclaiming Futures coach Elleen Deck & consultant Judy Schector did a wonderful job explaining the Reclaiming Futures model, goals, and approach to those in attendance.  The Reclaiming Futures Fellows were pleased to see such a wonderful turn-out and participation by the group as a whole. Several prominent members of our community attended the meeting.

Engage Families in Juvenile Justice System Reform and Advocacy - More Ideas

lightbulbA couple days ago, we posted six tips on engaging family members in your efforts to reform the juvenile justice system and how it works with teens with drug and alcohol problems. Grace Bauer, who authored the tips, wrote to say that some excellent additional resources are coming:

Six Tips for Engaging Families in Juvenile Justice System Reform and Advocacy

cartoon - 4 people fitting puzzle pieces Families can be one of the most powerful levers for changing how youth in the juvenile justice system access alcohol and drug treatment -- and improving its quality. But involving family members in reform work is difficult.
Fortunately, it's a skill that can be learned. To help you along, we're reprinting below a newsletter column written by Grace Bauer, Community Organizer for the Campaign for Youth Justice. --Ed.

 
Strategies for Engaging Families in
Advocacy and System Reform Efforts
by Grace Bauer

Reclaiming Futures, Meet New Orleans!

L.J. Hernandez is a Program Specialist in the Reclaiming Futures National Program Office, and she has a message just for the Reclaiming Futures sites:
lobby of Omni Royal Orleans Hotel Home to Mardi Gras and a melting pot of cultures, New Orleans is the site for the 2009 Reclaiming Futures Leadership Institute, April 28-May 1, 2009. The theme of this year’s Leadership Institute (which is exclusively for Reclaiming Futures sites) is “From Demonstration to Movement: Charting Our Course.” We’re very excited about this meeting because it will be the largest one that Reclaiming Futures has ever held.

Reclaiming Futures on Comcast Newsmakers

  • Want a quick orientation to Reclaiming Futures?
  • Work for a Reclaiming Futures initiative, and wonder how to do an "elevator speech" about it? 

Check out Dr. Laura Nissen, National Director of Reclaiming Futures, in this brief, 4-minute interview on Comcast Newsmakers. It aired in a break on Comcast's CNN Headline News in late December.

Take Our Survey: When Are Teens Screened for Substance Abuse in Your Legal System?

Judge BordersJudge Bettina Borders has some questions for you.
Judge Borders is first justice of the Bristol County Juvenile Court at the Reclaiming Futures site in Bristol County, MA. Her site is in the process of developing a uniform drug screening tool.* As part of the process, the judge would like to hear from other jurisdictions about the following:

Reclaiming Futures Anchorage Plays Role in Development of Anchorage United for Youth

Cover of Anchorage report
Reclaiming Futures focuses on teens with alcohol and drug problems who are in trouble with the law. A key component of our approach is to integrate the existing systems that work with youth, which can mean working on an even broader array of youth issues.
One Reclaiming Futures site that's done that very well? Anchorage, Alaska. Over the past two years, the Anchorage site worked to bring together all of the local coalitions working on youth issues into one effort, called Anchorage United for Youth, organizing around three common goals:

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