Blog: Reclaiming Futures

Liveblogging Shay Bilchik at PSU: Improving Systemic Coordination and Outcomes for Youth Involved in the Juvenile Justice System

Shay Bilchik (founder and Director of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute) is at Portland State University this afternoon to discuss the juvenile justice system. I'll be liveblogging his talk here, so tune in!
"If We Knew Then, What We Know Now: Implications for Juvenile Justice Policy in America"
4:45pm Dr. David Springer (upcoming Dean of PSU's School of Social Work): I've had the pleasure of serving with Shay on a juvenile justice panel in Austin about a year ago, and we're all in for a real treat.
4:50pm Bilchik: We're launching work with Multnomah and Marion counties' juvenile justice systems...
Oregon has demonstrated a vision that shows the possibility of serving children and families in a great way. The multi-system juvenile justice system here is the best in the country. 
4:55pm Bilchik: We're primed to build a better and smarter juvenile justice system. It's no longer just the juvenile justice field, youth development field, education fields.. we're now working across systems. As Dr. Laura Nissen says, "these are boundary founders" who are working across multiple fields. To put it simply, we want to provide love, opportunity and hope to the children who come in contact with the juvenile justice system.
5:05pm Bilchik: We need to make sure that none of our children fall through the cracks and too often we don't do that. Too often these kids are without power (living in impoverished communities) and kids of color.
So what would we have done differently if we knew then what we know now?

Join us for a Juvenile Justice Discussion with Shay Bilchik in Portland

For those in the Portland, Oregon area: We're joining PSU's School of Social Work in hosting Shay Bilchik for a lecture and discussion on the juvenile justice system. He'll address ways to improve systemic coordination and outcomes for youth involved in the juvenile justice system. A local panel of experts will react to Shay's remarks and Dr. David Springer (incoming Dean of the School of Social Work) will moderate.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
4:30 - 6:00 pm (doors open at 4)
Smith Memorial Student Union, Room 327/328
Portland State University
Shay is the founder and Director of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University's Public Policy Institute.  Prior to joining the Institute in 2007, he was the President and CEO of the Child Welfare League of America. Previously, he headed up the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) in the U.S. Department of Justice, where he advocated for and supported a balanced and multi-systems approach to attacking juvenile crime and addressing child victimization. Before coming to the nation's capital, Shay was an Assistant State Attorney in Miami, Florida from 1977-1993, where he served as a trial lawyer, juvenile division chief and Chief Assistant State Attorney. Shay earned his B.S. and J.D. degrees from the University of Florida.
RSVP here and let me know if you're going. I hope to see you there!

Takeaways from Oklahoma: Cultural Sensitivity and Evidence-Based Practices Matter

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the Reclaiming Futures Cherokee Nation site in Oklahoma. I am especially impressed by how committed the team members are to not only serving the youth of the Cherokee Nation, but also to helping them connect with their cultural heritage.
I had a couple of key takeaways:

  • Cultural sensitivity is key: As Treatment Fellow Lori Medina mentions in her video, the Cherokee Nation site has unique cultural challenges in working with local teens. Being able to fully understand and relate to Native American culture has allowed the site to truly connect with troubled kids and make sure they are on the path to rehabilitation and success. There is a particular focus on learning how to make Native American crafts and participating in cultural events, which not only teaches the kids a marketable trade, but also helps them to connect to their heritage and community.
  • Evidence-based practices are crucial: Project Director Jennifer Kirby is a big supporter of using evidence-based practices to improve treatment for troubled teens. As Jennifer explains in her video, the Reclaiming Futures model provides them with the tools to better assess troubled youth at intake. This allows them to make better-informed recommendations for treatment and services, which leads to stronger outcomes.


Cheryl Reed: Serving Portland State University for 20 outstanding years

One the most valuable lessons I've learned in my first year as national executive director of Reclaiming Futures, is who really runs this office. As anyone who calls or visits our office knows, Chery Reed is a quiet and powerful force, who makes certain that our work is always done to the highest standard.
Cheryl came to the position of administrative manager for Reclaiming Futures from the impressive job of marketing and public information at Portland State University. Cheryl has always worked in education and the arts. She taught in public school and served as education director for a regional arts council in Oregon. Her graduate degree is from the University of Oregon School of Architecture and Allied Arts.
Please join me in celebrating Cheryl's impressive 20 years of service to Portland State University.

Work with Reclaiming Futures in North Carolina

The North Caroline Department of Juvenile Justice and Deliquency Prevention has an opening for a Reclaiming Futures Trainer who will provide training and technical assistance to existing and newly developed sites to help build statewide capacity for Reclaiming Futures. 
Description of Work
This position provides training and technical assistance to existing and newly developed Reclaiming Futures sites to help build statewide capacity for the program. Curriculum-based training, adaptation of the national RF curriculum to North Carolina, planning and further meeting the training needs at each site will be required. Must be able to conduct quality field research (raining methods, subject matter), have strong consultation and collaboration skills and work well as a team player.
Knowledge, Skills and Abilities
Effective methods/models of adult learning; multi-media tools and methods for delivering training; strong research skills (evaluating subject matter, lesson plans, curricula, etc); excellent oral and written communication skills; strong experince in delivering adult education/adult learning training using multiple methods and modes; strong coordination and management skills (multiple priorities and tasks); skills in evaluating training and quality improvement.

Lessons of Whitney Houston's addiction and more -- news roundup.

Juvenile Justice Reform

Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment

Should juvenile hearings be opened to news media? and more: news roundup

Juvenile Justice Reform

  • California activists calling for changes to state’s juvenile justice system
    Juvenile Justice Information Exchange:
    Last month, California’s Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice(CJCJ) released a policy brief recommending phased juvenile justice realignment beginning later this year.
  • Judge Daley retires after helping transform juvenile court
    New Brunswick Judge Roger Daley exited his courtroom for the last time in his 15-year tenure on the bench last week. He took off his black robe and took a seat behind an ample desk smothered with items including a “Thank You” from a grandmother of a teen, who appreciated his work to rehabilitate her grandson.
  • Bill would raise high-school dropout age to 18
    The Arizona Republic:
    State Rep. Daniel Patterson, D-Tucson, has introduced a bill that would increase the age at which high-school students could legally drop out from 16 to 18.
  • Should Orange County’s juvenile hearings be opened to news media?
    OC Register:
    Last week, the presiding judge of Los Angeles County's Juvenile Court ordered dependency proceedings there to be opened to the media, saying secrecy had allowed problems to fester, but is that the best way to protect children?
  • Budget cuts would lead to closure of several juvenile justice facilities
    The Salt Lake Tribune:
    Budget cuts could lead to the closure of several juvenile justice centers across the state, making it harder for youth offenders to be treated in their own communities or earn back the money they need to pay restitution to their victims.
  • Editorial: Well-deserved honors
    The Commercial Appeal:
    The efforts by the leadership team at Shelby County Juvenile Court to change the face of juvenile justice in Memphis and Shelby County continues to garner national recognition.
  • MacArthur Foundation, OJJDP announce private-public partnership
    Philanthropy News Digest:
    The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) have announced a private-public partnership that includes a $2 million commitment to support innovative reforms in treatment and services for youth involved in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.

Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment

  • Drug use among florida youth drops
    Miami Herald:
    The 2011 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey showed less than 10 percent of students tried drugs other than marijuana within 30 days of the survey. Twelve percent of students reported using marijuana, a decline from 2010.

Updating the Reclaiming Futures Model from “Completion” to “Transition”

Since its founding, Reclaiming Futures has been dedicated to helping to build a balanced and restorative juvenile justice system that holds youth accountable, but breaks the cycle of crime and drugs by providing evidence-based substance abuse treatment to the kids who need it.
Along the way, we’ve connected with 29 communities across the country and received great feedback on the power of the Reclaiming Futures model and its ability to ensure that youth have access to treatment. Our model has 6 parts:

  1. Initial screening: As soon as possible after being referred to the juvenile justice system, youth should be screened for substance abuse problems using a reputable screening tool.
  2. Initial assessment: If substance abuse is indicated, refer for service coordination.
  3. Service coordination: Intervention plans should be designed and coordinated by community teams that are family-driven, span agency boundaries and draw upon community-based resources.
  4. Initiation: Service initiation is a critical moment in intervention.
  5. Engagement: Youth and families must be effectively engaged in services.
  6. Transition: Community coordination teams should specify how much of each service plan must be completed, after which agency-based services will be gradually withdrawn, as appropriate.

Reclaiming Futures in Snohomish County, Washington: Using art to rehabilitate teens

This past fall, Washington state's Snohomish County juvenile court system ran a pilot project called Promising Artists in Recovery (PAIR), modeled after Reclaiming Futures. The program connected teens in the county's juvenile justice system with local artists who shared their craft and mentored the youth.
The Herald has a terrific feature story on PAIR, Reclaiming Futures and the teens and mentors who participated. Check out this video on the pilot:


New issue of Children and Youth Services Review focuses on Reclaiming Futures

PORTLAND, OREGON - The Children and Youth Services Review released its online issue featuring Reclaiming Futures, a national organization that improves drug and alcohol treatment for teens in juvenile courts. The issue includes 12 articles by 19 experts and is available here.

"Reclaiming Futures is a tested and proven approach that has set a new national standard of care and is making a difference in the lives of teens and families in communities across the country," said Laura Burney Nissen, Ph.D., founder of Reclaiming Futures and associate professor at Portland State University's School of Social Work. "This issue of Children and Youth Services Review documents the ideas, principles and practices of the Reclaiming Futures model."

Edited by Dr. Nissen of the School of Social Work at Portland State University, Dan Merrigan, Ph.D., associate professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, and Kristin Schubert, MPH, program officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the issue delves deep into the Reclaiming Futures model, how it works, why it's successful and lessons learned over the past decade.

"This edition of Children and Youth Services Review gets to the heart of the national Reclaiming Futures model," said Dr. Merrigan. "We take an honest look at the juvenile justice field and share proven strategies for practitioners and community leaders to help teens caught in the cycle of drugs, alcohol and crime."
The issue covers the following areas:

Loss of John Berry (October 17, 1968 - November 1, 2011)

"John was an ardent supporter of Reclaiming Futures as well as a vocal advocate for social justice involving all youth. He had a strong passion for his work and the communities impacted by his efforts. As the Justice Fellow, he was a leader and innovator in the Forsyth area in Reclaiming Futures, and worked very hard to cultivate the model as well as natural supports for young folk involved in their care across Forsyth County. We hope that you join with us in expressing our deepest condolences to his wife Valerie and his three children."
- Robin Jenkins, Chief Operating Officer, North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

Our Heavenly Father has called home our beloved, John M. Berry Jr., 43; our hearts are made sad but yet we rejoice in his homegoing. He made his transition on Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at his residence.
Born in Burke County on October 17, 1968, he was the son of the late Johnny and Buena Pauline Berry.
He graduated from East Burke High School and went on to get his bachelor’s degree at North Carolina A&T State University. He received his Master’s degree in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix. John served as the Chief Court Counselor for Forsyth County and was an active member of New Birth Worship Center. He was a proud member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.
He leaves to cherish his memories, wife Valerie M. Berry; three daughters, Brianna, Alexandria and Jordan Berry; sisters Jennifer Berry of Kernersville, NC and Melanie (Lamont) Scales of Winston-Salem, NC; and a host of aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends.

Juvenile Justice Reform - Tell the Right Story & Keep Going!

What a Long Way We've Come
Almost exactly three years ago, I was asked if I would be interested in launching, writing, and editing a blog for Reclaiming Futures, focused on juvenile justice reform and adolescent substance abuse treatment.
My answer then: Would I ever!
Seven hundred and eighty-six posts later -- many authored by some of the leading experts in the field -- it's time for me to lay my figurative pen down. (Fortunately, I know I'm leaving the blog in very good hands; you can count on Reclaiming Futures to remain a go-to source for information in the fields of juvenile justice and adolescent substance abuse treatment.)
When I began, hardly anyone else was using blogging or social media to talk about juvenile justice or adolescent treatment. To say that's changed is an understatement. There's been a virtual explosion of skilled and thoughtful people disseminating news, opinion, new research, and best practices (in juvenile justice, anyway; teen treatment has a ways to go).
I think that's great. But it's not enough.

OJJDP Pre-Conference Livecast: Reclaiming Futures and the Juvenile Drug Court

juvenile-justice-reform_broadcast-antennaReclaiming Futures will be hosting an all-day workshop on October 10, 2011 at the the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) pre-conference next week, the Monday before the full juvenile justice conference gets underway. 
Best of all - we'll be livecasting it: you can watch it right here on our blog. The workshop is called, "Reclaiming Futures and Juvenile Drug Courts." It kicks off at 8:30 am EST, and finished up at 4:45 pm EST.
To sit in, tune in on Monday, October 10, right here at
At the end of the day, participants will be able to:
•    Define and describe the increasing challenge of substance abuse (and other behavioral health issues) for juvenile offenders.
•    Define and describe Reclaiming Futures as a standard of care to address this challenge.
•    Begin the process of assessing readiness and preparing to retool local juvenile justice responses to substance abuse and delinquency.
•    Take steps to assess community recovery capital and increase direct community engagement options at the local level.  
Can't tune in for the whole thing? Here's our agenda:

How to Use the SAMHSA Recovery Month Toolkit to Promote Teen Recovery

adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_national-recovery-month-logoAs a busy project director for Reclaiming Futures Hocking County, communications with the community and positive staff recognition often fall to the bottom of my to-do list, despite my best intentions. This is why the designation of September as National Recovery Month by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and their annual Recovery Month toolkit is extremely helpful to me. I know that during the month of August and September, I will be focusing my efforts on helping to promote prevention, treatment and long-term recovery from substance use disorders, and that there are resources available to help me easily complete my mission. 
In August, I begin by preparing proclamations for our local government officials. In the toolkit, there are ready-made examples of both traditional and modern proclamations. Our local mayor and county commissioners have been very willing to sign on to this special initiative for the past three years. (To do this yourself, just call the office of that elected official whose support you want. There's usually someone in their office whose job it is to handle proclamations who can tell you what they need.)
Once I receive the signed proclamations, I post copies in prominent areas and ask our Reclaiming Futures Change Team members to do the same. During the month of September, I share the proclamations and information about Recovery Month and Reclaiming Futures Hocking County at any meeting I attend. I also send a copy of the signed proclamations to the Recovery Month website, where SAMHSA shares them online.

Reclaiming Futures: Improving Treatment for Youth Involved with the Juvenile Justice System

adolescent-substance-abuse-treatment_grass-through-barsOur mantra at Reclaiming Futures sums up our goals for youth in the juvenile justice system: more treatment, better treatment, and beyond treatment.  
While not every young person who uses or abuses drugs and alcohol is addicted, we know that addiction is a disease that usually has its onset in adolescence, so intervening early is important. But the problem is particularly acute in the juvenile justice system, which refers nearly half of all teens who enter publicly-funded substance abuse treatment.
We also know that nearly one in five youth at the door of the juvenile justice system have diagnosable substance abuse disorders-- and that the percentage goes up, the deeper youth penetrate the system. Of youth in post-adjudication placements, 47%  have alcohol and drug disorders.  Furthermore, the groundbreaking Pathways to Desistance research on serious juvenile offenders found that substance use was strongly related to their continued criminal activity.
The good news is that substance abuse programs that involve an individual’s family in the intervention are one of the few things that reduced recidivism. That's why, in the communities we work with, we promote the expansion of treatment – more treatment – and the implementation of evidence-based screening and assessment tools, such as the Global Appraisal of Individual Needs (GAIN) – better treatment.  Many times, trauma or other unmet needs can be a contributing factor in a youth's negative behavior choices and need to be addressed.  

North Carolina Governor Announces Statewide Expansion of Reclaiming Futures to Help Teens Break Cycle of Drugs, Alcohol and Crime

Raleigh, N.C. (September 14, 2011) -- North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue today announced a partnership between state agencies and two North Carolina foundations that will expand the successful Reclaiming Futures program from a model to a statewide initiative that helps youths in the juvenile justice system beat problems with drugs and alcohol. This tested and proven program will help put teenagers on a path toward finishing high school ready, for a career, college or technical training.
"This program takes my priority of making government more efficient, taps into the expertise and resources of the private sector and uses them for the most important purpose imaginable - protecting the future of our young people," Governor Perdue said. "This is an investment in turning young lives around." 


Webinar: The School-to-Prison Pipeline

juvenile-justice-reform_Teske-article-coverThink you can't dent the school-to-prison pipeline? The Honorable Steven Teske is here to tell you why you should and how you can.
--Okay, he's not here now, but he'll be leading a webinar about it (sponsored by Reclaiming Futures) in September. So, write the date and time down in ink, and pass this on to all your colleagues:

The School-to-Prison Pipeline
September 14, 2011 at 11:00am PDT / 2:00pm EDT

In this webinar, Judge Steven Teske will share the strategies used in Clayton, Georgia to work with the local school district to reduce referrals to juvenile courts, while simultaneously developing school-based strategies to address disruptive behavior.
This collaborative arrangement has reduced serious juvenile crime both at school and in the community, while increasing graduation rates. Judge Teske will also share the importance of making this a community effort by reaching out both to the local media and civic groups to educate them on the effects of referring teens from school to juvenile courts, and the importance of developing strategies in the best interest of our youth.
Update September 20, 2011: You can watch the archived webinar and download the slides and other info here (search for "The School-to Prison-Pipeline," in the "Juvenile Justice Reform" section.)

Kentucky Adapts Reclaiming Futures Model for Status Offenders

[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.