If you work with youth in the justice system, here's four resources from Chapin Hall Center for Children you might find helpful:
Got a question about juvenile detention reform?
Whether your community has been working to address disproportionate minority confinement for years, or is just beginning to think about how to address it, you'll want to tune into this online broadcast on juvenile detention reform on March 5th at 4:30 pm EST. Bart Lubow, who leads the Annie E. Casey Foundation's national Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI), will be interviewed. He'll be taking quesions from the audience, too. Can't make it? Don't worry -- the recorded show will be archived.
Reclaiming Futures is nothing if not eager to share. Every now and then, we're going to offer up a few giveaways to readers of the blog. This week, we're giving away a copy of "Rethinking Juvenile Justice," by Elizabeth S. Scott and Laurence Steinberg. In it, they "outline a new developmental model of juvenile justice that recognizes adolescents' immaturity but also holds them accountable."
And you could have your very own free copy if you enter our contest.
The 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.
A recent national survey of attitudes toward addiction performed by Hazelden contains some encouraging news:
- 77% of Americans agree that addiction treatment should be part of healthcare reform (though many are unsure if their own insurance plan covers it); and
- 78% of Americans "understand that drug addiction is a chronic disease rather than a personal failing."
Lourdes Rosado is a Senior Attorney for Juvenile Law Center. Below, she introduces a useful guide to help your community screen teens for behavioral health and drug problems while protecting their rights in and out of juvenile court. Juvenile Law Center is the oldest multi-issue public interest law firm in the country dedicated to advancing the rights and well-being of children in jeopardy.—Ed.
In the last decade, states and localities have worked hard to identify and treat the large percentage of youth in the juvenile justice system who have mental health and substance abuse disorders.
Complicated 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:
A lot's been happening in juvenile justice lately. Here's some high-and-lowlights:
- The Obama administration is nominating Seattle's police chief, R. Gil Kerlikowske, to be the new drug czar. This seems to be encouraging news, as he is chair of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a law enforcement association that favors prevention and intervention methods for addressing juvenile crime, and disseminates relevant research.
- The Annie E. Casey Foundation released its policy recomendations for reforming the juvenile justice system, just in time for Congress to consider reauthorizing the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA).
Want to know more about adolescent brain development?
The Campaign for Youth Justice is hosting an online interview with Vassar psychologist Abigail Baird on juvenile brain development tomorrow, February 19th at 4:30PM EST. Tune in if you can -- you can call in with questions -- and if you can't, the show will be available for download later.
UPDATE: You can catch the recorded show at the same link, or on the Campaign for Youth Justice's "blog talkradio" page.
Chances 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:
[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.
Our 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.
A 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:
Youth Today reports that the number of juveniles in the justice system who commit suicide while confined is higher than anyone thought -- worse yet, their deaths often go unreported to state authorities.
We know this because the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) commissioned a report, Characteristics of Juvenile Suicide in Confinement. Though the report was completed in 2004, it was only released yesterday. The author blames former top OJJDP administrator, J. Robert Flores for the delay.
One takeaway: youth entering detention should be given mental health assessments as soon as possible. Over half of the youth who killed themselves in detention did so within the first six days, and only 35% had received a mental health assessment by then. Stands to reason that a youth's alcohol and drug use should also be assessed at the same time.
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
- Teen alcohol and drug treatment is often paid for with funds from the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) funds. So it was especially good news to hear that 4 million more children will be covered by the federal program.
- No word on who the permanent new Drug Czar will be. In the mean time, an interim Drug Czar was named by Obama.
- Even alcohol and drug policy groups at the state level can be subject to politics: in New Jersey, the State Comptroller audited the Governor's Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse for the first time in its 20-year existence, and said its $10 million budget would never produce "measurable results."
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:
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.
Implementing Reclaiming Futures means including families and youth in building service plans for individual teens -- and in improving services overall. Need help doing it?
Consider attending the 2009 Building Family Strengths conference on June 23-25, 2009, in Portland, OR - you can even submit a proposal for a presentation, if you do so by this Friday, February 6, 2009.