Teens in Your Juvenile Justice System Have Nothing to Do? They Can Help

juvenile-justice-system-adolescent-substance-abuse-resources-community-youth-mapping-logoOne of the key parts of the Reclaiming Futures model is "beyond treatment":  connecting kids in the juvenile justice system with a network of positive adults, services, and activities that will sustain them when they leave probation, incarceration, or treatment.
No problem, right? Well, as anyone who's ever wrestled with this problem knows, it's a huge problem. It can be hard for probation officers and treatment counselors to keep up with what's available. Then, too, there's the always-tricky issue of what services or activies are appropriate for which kids. 
So here's an idea from Community YouthMapping (CYM): ask the kids to help you map the services; together, you can canvass neighborhoods in search of places to go and things to do. It's a great opportunity to harness their energy, given them skills, and model pro-social behavior, and you'll often find resources you wouldn't find otherwise. 

For example, in Franklin County, OH, "youthmappers" discovered 536 paid and unpaid work experience opportunities for young people including paid internships and job shadowing ; and 29 organizations providing employment training leading to industry-recognized certification. (Granted, this was before the current recession.) They also learned that 3,000 Franklin County young people were denied participation in programs or failed to receive needed services every month.
And this approach can be adapted for other kinds of community mapping as well.
In Harlem, New York a program of the Harlem Children’s Zone implemented Community YouthMapping to:

  • identify locations in Harlem that provided access to healthy food choices for residents;
  • document the impact of health literacy on the Harlem community; and
  • train youth on food and beverage marketing by documenting food and beverage marketing strategies in Harlem.

Since 1995, Community YouthMapping has been implemented in more than 100 sites across the United States as well as Haiti, Egypt, and parts of Sub-Saharan Africa with positive community outcomes, identifying resources in areas as diverse as disabilities, healthy living, and health literacy.
Want to learn more about how you can use youthmapping to help kids in the justice system struggling with alcohol and drugs? Check out the CYM website or email Raul Ratcliffe.
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Updated: February 08 2018