Research: Teaching Parenting Skills Helps Teens Genetically Prone to Risk

Perhaps, like me, you didn't know that there's a genetic variation associated with impulsivity, low self-control, binge drinking, and substance use. Apparently, 40% of the population has it. (Imagine you're a teenager with that gene ... perhaps you'd be even more prone to risky behavior than most?)
Well, a new study supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has shown that providing an evidence-based prevention program focusing on parenting skills has a huge impact in helping teens with this gene avoid alcohol and drug use and stay safe.

Juvenile Drug Court in Dayton Gets Positive Press

Reclaiming Futures isn't mentioned by name, but its spirit is nicely evoked in this short piece on the juvenile drug court in Dayton, Ohio - one of the original 10 Reclaiming Futures sites. Congratulations, Dayton!
UPDATE: There's also a great 28-photo essay covering the kids' drug court graduation ceremony, and the speech of NBA star Daequan Cook, who came to speak to the graduates

Upcoming Webinars - "Bridges Out of Poverty" & Treatment of Adolescents Using Opiods

Reclaiming-Futures-webinarsWe've still got a few spaces left in two great webinars. Both will be closed at 75 participants, so register now!
[UPDATE: the "Bridges out of Poverty" webinar has come and gone, but there's still space in "Treatment of Adolescents with Opiod Use Disorders." Scroll down for more info!]
Here's the details:

Philip DeVol on Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities
When: Thursday, May 21st, 10:30am-12:00pm PDT / 1:30-3:00pm EDT
To Participate: scroll down to "How to Sign Up."

Roundup: Drug Czar Backs Away from "Drug War"; First World Congress on Juvenile Restorative Justice; and More

  • juvenile-justice-adolescent-alcohol-and-drug-treatment-newspaper.jpgYou've probably heard this already, but the new drug czar backed away from the "war on drugs" analogy, signalling a shift in U.S. policy toward more treatment and less emphasis on interdiction and incarceration. What you might not have heard, however, is that the administration's current budget still favors interdiction over prevention and treatment, according to an editorial in The Huffington Post.

Mentors for Youth of Color in the Justice System

Many jurisdictions want models on how to recruit mentors of color for youth in the justice system, so here's two: the Reclaiming Futures site in Dayton, Ohio site is a great example (I plan to feature them in more detail in the near future), and so is the Seattle Reclaiming Futures site, whose 4C Coalition I featured in December.

Reclaiming Futures Expands with $2.3 Million Grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

reclaiming-futures-funding.jpgBack in March, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) offered $3.6 million for three new Reclaiming Futures sites. Today, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) approved an additional $2.3 million to support those three new Reclaiming Futures sites and provide technical assistance training to the existing 23 sites around the country.

Who's Responsible for Ending Youth Violence? An Op-Ed from a Reclaiming Futures Site

 Karen Carpenter, the Community Fellow for our site in Rowan County, North Carolina, let me know that her op-ed on who's responsible for ending youth violence appeared in yesterday's Salisbury Post.
A sad occasion -- the shooting death of a teen in Salisbury -- but an eloquent call for mentors for teens who need them. Good work, Karen!

Director of Reclaiming Futures Named Oregon's Social Worker of the Year for 2009

Reclaiming-Futures-director.jpgThis should come as no surprise to anyone who's met her, but Laura Nissen (in photo at left), who directs the Reclaiming Futures national initiative, has been named 2009 Social Worker of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Oregon Chapter. The award recognizes social workers who have made outstanding contributions to the profession and services provided to Oregon’s individuals, families and communities. 

Shay Bilchik at the Reclaiming Futures Leadership Institute

juvenile-justice-expert-Shay-Bilchik-&-LauraNissenIn addition to hosting Marian Wright Edelman at our Leadership Institute in New Orleans last week, we were also honored to have Mr. Shay Bilchik (seen at left with Laura Nissen, National Director of Reclaiming Futures) as our guest. Mr. Bilchik is founder and director of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University. (The CJJR recently put out recommendations on improving services to youth transitioning out of the juvenile justice and/or child welfare systems.)
Mr. Bilchik spoke entertainingly and cogently on where he thinks the juvenile justice system needs to go to be successful. The full text of his remarks should be available in the next few weeks; in the mean time, rough notes on his speech are below. (I'm grateful to Reclaiming Futures staffer Mimmy Patterson for her extensive notes, which I've supplemented here and there. My apologies to Mr. Bilchik if we've mangled his presentation.) 

Bonus Roundup: NC Proposal Would Raise Age for Juvenile Prosecution from 16 to 18; Illinois Sticker Shock Campaign Addresses Adults Buying Alcohol for Teens; and More

juvenile-justice-adolescent-treatment-news-newspaperThere's so much going on, I had to post another news roundup this week:

Roundup: Juvenile Life-Without-Parole Cases to be Reviewed by Supreme Court; Racism May Hurt Kids' Mental Health; and More

  • juvenile-justice-adolescent-treatment-news-newspaperBiggest news of the week: according to The New York Times, the U.S. Supreme Court is taking up the question of whether it's appropriate to sentence juveniles to life without parole, given its 2005 decision that execution for crimes committed as a juvenile is inappropriate given what we now know about their developing brains.

Funding: Juvenile Mentors for Youth Leaving Incarceration

juvenile-mentoring-money-picture-of-smarties-with-dollar-signsThe Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) is providing more funding for mentors of youth under the "Second Chance Juvenile Mentoring Initiative." Grantees will receive up to $625,000 for three years; awards require a 25% match (cash or in-kind); proposals are due June 15, 2009.

National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day

Today is National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It's intended to raise "awareness of effective programs for children's mental health needs; demonstrate how children's mental health initiatives promote positive youth development, recovery, and resilience; and show how children with mental health needs thrive in their communities." 
This year's theme -- "Thriving in the Community" -- is appropriate for anyone working with kids in the justice system, since it emphasizes "how high school youth who receive the services they need are more likely to have positive outcomes, such as better grades, and less likely to have negative outcomes, such as involvement with the juvenile and criminal justice systems."
Check out the SAMHSA site for more info - there's a short report on how systems of care help teens stay in school and are better-behaved, and there's also a Family Guide to Systems of Care for Children With Mental Health Needs.

Recipes from Juvenile Probation

cookbookCheck out these recipes from a juvenile probation camp in L.A. County, Camp Gonzalez. For the past five years, 50 teens have been in the cooking class; last week, some of this year's students catered a successful event for the L.A. Commission for Children and Families. It would be nice to see more of this kind of vocational education for youth in the justice system -- it's practical, and should give the teens useful skills. 
However, this editorial in The Huffington Post makes it clear that not everyone's happy with L.A.'s juvenile justice system -- or should be. The columnist argues for adopting the "Missouri Model" to lower the recidvism rate by switching from warehousing kids to addressing their underlying issues. It's cheaper, and backed by research: give me another helping of that.

Roundup: Online Treatment May Be Effective; Using Teen Brain Research in Court; and More

Reclaiming Futures' Keynote Speaker: Marian Wright Edelman

Laura Nissen and Marian Wright EdelmanThe Reclaiming Futures initiative was honored to host Marian Wright Edelman (seen on the right in the photo at right, with Laura Nissen, National Director of Reclaiming Futures). Mrs. Edelman is founder and president of the Childrens' Defense Fund (CDF) and is a renowned advocate for America's disadvantaged children. 
A couple of highlights from her inspiring speech (quotes may not be word-for-word):

Supporting Youth Leaving Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare - New Recommendations

Youth in transition reportIn part because of research that indicates that the human brain doesn't fully mature until about age 25, we now know that youth who are "connected by 25" -- have sufficient education, employment skills, and a positive social network -- are likely to be successful in life. But youth without such preparation are likely to struggle, at great cost to themselves and to society.

Teens Influence UN Resolution on Juvenile Justice + More Great Ideas for Positive Youth Activities

juvenile justice youth in dog training program We know that young people in the justice system need constructive activities and positive adults to work with them, right? Treatment's important, but they also need opportunities to learn and practice new skills that will that help them be successful when they leave the justice system, get off probation, and leave treatment.
So here's three inspiring examples of jurisdictions that have taken on the challenge: