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.
I was so pleased to see firsthand that through Reclaiming Futures, the Cherokee Nation has built evidence based practices and infrastructure to better serve young people and the community.
Susan Richardson is national executive director for Reclaiming Futures. Formerly, she was a senior program officer in the health care division of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she led a three-year effort involving the state's juvenile justice and treatment leaders to adopt the Reclaiming Futures model by juvenile courts in six North Carolina counties. Prior to that, Susan was executive director of the Annie Penn Community Trust and, concurrently, Director of Community Development for Annie Penn Hospital; and she worked in management, marketing, and public relations for health care and non-profit organizations. She served on the North Carolina Governor’s Task Force for Healthy Carolinians, and is a former member of Grantmakers in Health, Southeastern Council of Foundations, the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy, and the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She received her B.S. in Public Health, Health Policy and Administration, from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Updated: March 19 2012