Unlocking the Digital Classroom for Kids in Lock Up; News Roundup

by Cecilia Bianco

Juvenile Justice Reform

  • Md. lawmakers consider housing for youth charged as adults (The Washington Post)
    After 10 years as chief of the St. Mary’s County Detention Center, Capt. Michael Merican is in a situation he says isn’t just difficult, it’s impossible. Merican pays close attention to the needs and well-being of 200 inmates, but one causes him constant worry: a terrified 17-year-old boy.
  • Transforming the Juvenile Justice System (The Take Away)
    Judge Denise Cubbon, the lead judge of the Lucas County Juvenile Court, in Toledo, Ohio, breaks that mold. Along with her Court Administrator, Deborah Hodges, Judge Cubbon has become a champion for change, for some of the country’s most vulnerable offenders: Children.

  • Unlocking the digital classroom for kids in lock up (Marketplace.org)
    Since July 2013, San Diego County Office of Education has spent nearly $900,000 on computers, printers and software for its secure juvenile facilities. Soon every one of the 200 kids here will have access to a Chromebook in class. All the teachers are being trained to run a digital classroom and add tech to the curriculum.

Jobs, Grants, Events and Webinars

  • Please share the Reclaiming Futures Opportunity Board with your colleagues in the juvenile justice, adolescent substance abuse and teen mental health areas. It’s free to browse and post!

Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment and Mental Health

  • Mental health: Gaps remain in juvenile mental health care (Las Cruces Sun News)
    “Nationally, between 60 to 70 percent of kids in the juvenile justice system have a mental health disorder and roughly 90 percent have experienced at least one traumatic event,” said Terri Williams, deputy secretary of the Kansas Department of Corrections in a news statement from July 28, 2014.

  • All Kinds of Therapy New Website for Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse Treatment Launches Today (WKRG.com)
    All Kinds of Therapy is an innovative, user-friendly website that focuses on providing an interactive directory for residential treatment, wilderness therapy, therapeutic boarding schools, and addiction treatment for clients ranging in ages 10 – 30. Additionally, all residential interventions on the site have a wide variety of specializations including psychiatric assessments, anxiety, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, severe learning disabilities, drug rehabilitation, failure to launch, adoption, or recovery.

Social Media Tools to Support Mental Health: Learning From Facebook’s Suicide Prevention Feature

by Susan Richardson

Last week, global social media leader Facebook announced that it will roll out a new feature designed to enable friends to help friends struggling with suicidal thoughts. It stems from the knowledge that Facebook users often share deep, personal thoughts on the channel, and sometimes, this includes thoughts of despair or hurt.

The effort is in partnership with our friends at Forefront: Innovations in Suicide Prevention, an interdisciplinary organization based in the University of Washington’s School of Social Work, as well Now Matters Now, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and Save.org.

How It Works

If a Facebook user posts something to the channel that signals that they may harm themselves or are in need of help, his or her Facebook friend now has the ability to “report” it for the social networking service. A team at Facebook will review the post for legitimacy and, if pursued, Facebook will offer to connect the person in need with a helpline worker, as well as recommend resources to learn how to get help.

The new suite of Facebook tools were created with expert input from the mental health organizations listed above, as well as from people who have lived through self-injury or self-hurt.

Why It’s Important

The suicide prevention tools offered by Facebook will reach the channels 1.39 billion users worldwide. Not only does this bring mental health to the forefront as an important discussion as a whole, but it also identifies the need for mental health professionals to think more critically about the intersection of mental health and social media. It begs the question: How can we more effectively reach teens where they already are to improve mental health outcomes?

A recent study from BI Intelligence reports that Facebook remains the top social network for teens, with nearly half of teen Facebook users say they’re using the site more than last year.

That being said, we’re also seeing smaller, growing social media channels emerge among teens. On Tumblr—a microblogging platform—46 percent of users are between the ages of 16 and 24. That demographic also dominates on Snapchat, a photo messaging app.

We admire Facebook’s initiative to partner with leading mental health organizations to develop a tool that may help our teens improve mental health, and encourage leaders to continue keeping their fingers on the pulse of social media tools and techniques that teens are using. Understanding their behaviors will help us develop strategies to more effectively reach teens and deliver support.

Opportunity Board Roundup: Juvenile Justice Jobs, Grants, Webinars and Events

by Cecilia Bianco

opportunityBelow you’ll find a selection of the latest grants, jobs, webinars and events posted to our Opportunity Board. Please share the Reclaiming Futures Opportunity Board with your colleagues in the juvenile justice, adolescent substance abuse and teen mental health areas. It’s free to browse and post!

Webinars

Events

Grants

Panel of Experts Discusses “Addressing the Mental Health Crisis Behind Bars”

by Cecilia Bianco

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 5.15.23 PMLast Thursday, WNYC—one of New York’s flagship public radio stations—and Vera Institute of Justice partnered to host the event: The Current State of Institutionalization: Addressing the Mental Health Crisis Behind Bars.

The event was part of WNYC’s current series “Breaking Point: New York’s Mental Health Crisis” which is a four-part series, hosted by WNYC reporter Cindy Rodriguez, examining the connection between poverty, mental health and the criminal justice system.

Thursday’s event kicked off with opening remarks from New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray and included a panel of experts to discuss the following key topics:

  • Systemic issues driving the over-representation of people with serious mental illness in courts, jails, and prisons in New York and across the nation
  • The impact of mental health on public health and safety
  • Types of reforms to the mental health and justice systems necessary to address the crisis

The event was livestreamed and is now available to view in full. Watch it now to hear from the panel, moderated by Rodriguez and featuring the following experts:

  • Ezekiel Emanuel and Dr. Dominic Sisti, authors of the recent commentary “Bring Back the Asylum” in the Journal of the American Medical Association
  • Francis Greenburger, founder and president of the Greenburger Center for Social and Criminal Justice
  • David Cloud, leader of Vera’s Justice Reform for Healthy Communities initiative

The Teenage Brain on Drugs; News Roundup

by Cecilia Bianco

Juvenile Justice Reform

  • How a book club is helping to keep ex-offenders from going back to jail (WashingtonPost)
    Barksdale was around their age when he chose the streets over school. By 16, he was arrested and convicted on armed robbery charges, the culmination of a series of ­ill-conceived attempts to be a man. Now, at 25, he is one. But after spending so many of his formative years behind bars, he wondered: What sort of man would he be? Behind him were two former inmates. They hoped they might find the answers together.
  • Judicial hypocrisy on juvenile justice? (CNN)
    As Wisconsin prepares to try two children as adults in an attempted murder case allegedly inspired by the mythical Slenderman, the prosecution of two preteens in adult court challenges our faith in the juvenile justice system.
  • Proposed juvenile justice reforms discussed (Democrat & Chronicle)
    During a workshop Tuesday at the Center for Youth in Rochester, community advocacy groups learned more about the 38 recommendations made by the Governor’s Commission on Youth, Public Safety, and Justice for juvenile justice reform that Gov. Andrew Cuomo accepted last month.
  • Nebraska child advocates say court shackles traumatize kids (The Independent)
    Lawyers and advocates for juveniles say Nebraska children as young as 10 years old are treated more harshly in court than some adult offenders, perpetuating a cycle of shame, humiliation and repeat offenses. State lawmakers heard testimony Wednesday on a bill by Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha that would prohibit handcuffs, chains, irons or straitjackets on juveniles during court appearances unless deemed necessary for courtroom security.

Jobs, Grants, Events and Webinars

  • Please share the Reclaiming Futures Opportunity Board with your colleagues in the juvenile justice, adolescent substance abuse and teen mental health areas. It’s free to browse and post!

Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment and Mental Health

  • The Teenage Brain on Drugs (Psych Central)
    One way to look at addiction is to consider it a form of learning, a type of learning that is extremely effective in its ability to affect the adolescent brain, report researchers working under an NIH grant. The maturation process of the brain may cause teens and young adults to become addicted faster than older adults, because the impulse control centers of the brain are not fully developed in the younger cohort.
  • Student-created conference looks at impact of youth substance abuse (Thousand Oaks Acorn)
    The Westlake Village resident— whose story is hardly unique in the Conejo Valley—was among many people who donated time on Saturday to lead breakout sessions at a substance abuse conference for teens that was presented by the Thousand Oaks Youth Commission’s Drugs and Alcohol Prevention Committee.

Understanding How Adverse Childhood Experiences Affect Teens’ Futures

by Susan Richardson

Have you heard of adverse childhood experiences? Known as simply “ACEs,” this approach is rapidly gaining attention among the medical community and public health professionals alike. The issue is spanning boundaries and becoming increasingly pressing as studies unfold that early adversity—ACEs and toxic stress—dramatically impacts health outcomes.

A recently released TEDMED talk from Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explores this issue deeply. Her interest in ACEs began with a study led by Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which evaluated more than 17,000 adult patients. The study appointed each adult an ACEs score—a number that documented how many adverse childhood experiences each person had, such as abuse, neglect, exposure to domestic violence, and parents who were divorced, mentally ill or incarcerated.

The results were striking. The study found that the higher the ACEs score, the more likely adults suffered from dire health outcomes. Specifically:

  • Those who’ve experienced high levels of trauma are at triple the risk for heart disease and lung cancer.
  • Those with four or more adverse childhood experiences are four times more likely to become depressed, and
  • Twelve times more likely to attempt suicide.

Even more, the study revealed that these health outcomes aren’t just a result of high risk behavior, such as alcohol and drug use, that are spurred by toxic stress. These health outcomes result directly from toxic stress. Burke Harris explains that when a young person is exposed to ACEs, his or her stress system is activated over and over, wearing down the system and affecting brain structure and function. Children are particularly sensitive to the impacts of stress activation since they are still developing, and high doses of adversity can also affect developing hormonal systems, immune systems, and the way DNA is read and transcribed.

To tackle this issue, Burke Harris opened the Center for Youth Wellness in California, where her focus is to prevent, screen and treat children with high ACEs scores. The approach is interdisciplinary—a collaboration across health professionals, families and treatment providers—something that we echo here at Reclaiming Futures.

While our focus at Reclaiming Futures is providing substance use and mental health treatment to teens, and mitigating involvement in the juvenile justice system, it’s valuable to understand how ACEs may impact these teens that we work with daily. It’s our approach—the intersection of treatment, family and mentor involvement, and community reintegration—that has the potential to identify those teens who have high ACEs scores, and identify solutions for getting them back on track to bright futures.

Watch Burke Harris’ full TEDMED talk below to hear more on the ACEs impact on futures:

Opportunity Board Roundup: Juvenile Justice Grants, Jobs, Webinars and Events

by Cecilia Bianco

opportunityBelow you’ll find a selection of the latest grants, jobs, webinars and events posted to our Opportunity Board. Please share the Reclaiming Futures Opportunity Board with your colleagues in the juvenile justice, adolescent substance abuse and teen mental health areas. It’s free to browse and post!

Webinars

Events

Diverting Teens from the System: The Toolkit for Status Offense Reform

by Cecilia Bianco

logoThe most recently available national data tells us that more than 116,000 status offense cases were processed in court in 2011, and young people in more than 8,000 of those cases spent time in a detention facility.

While status offenses are non-criminal in nature, they can often jumpstart a cycle in the juvenile justice system that organizations and groups like The Status Offense Reform Center (SORC) believes can be stopped with the right means.

The SORC has a mission to “help policymakers and practitioners create effective, community-based responses for keeping young people who commit status offenses out of the juvenile justice system and safely in their homes and communities.”

In recognizing how challenging transforming a complex and long-lived system can be, the SORC developed a toolkit to help pave a course ahead for those in positions of authority: A Toolkit for Status Offense Reform. The toolkit addresses many common questions state and local officials have when attempting to make changes to this system:

  • Who should be involved?
  • What should our new system look like?
  • How will we know if it’s effective?

Additionally, there are four sections, or “modules,” included in the toolkit that tackle four key areas to help make the positive changes necessary to divert youth from the system:

  1. Structuring System Change

This module describes how to productively engage stakeholders in a system change effort.

  1. Using Local Information to Guide System Change

This module describes how to use data to conduct an assessment of your system.

  1. Planning and Implementing System Change

This module describes how to develop and implement a well-informed plan for system change that can be sustained over the long term.

  1. Monitoring and Sustaining System Change

This module describes how to monitor, assess, and modify your reform plan following its implementation.

For more information, explore the SORC website which includes a library of case studies of successful system reforms in different areas to help determine potential roadblocks and how to overcome them.

Image from SORC website

How Communities are Keeping Kids Out of Crime; News Roundup

by Cecilia Bianco

Juvenile Justice Reform

  • Federal Juvenile Justice Funding Declines Precipitously (JJIE)
    When congressional lawmakers last reauthorized the landmark Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, in fiscal year 2002, they appropriated about $547 million for juvenile justice. Today, federal spending on juvenile justice totals less than half that amount — about $251 million.
  • Positive Youth Justice, Part One: Rosie’s Place, Olympia, Wash. (Chronicle of Social Change)
    Last week, The Chronicle of Social Change introduced “Positive Youth Justice: Curbing Crime, Building Assets.” It is a series that imagines an entire continuum of juvenile justice services built on the positive youth development framework. We accomplish the “creation” of that continuum by profiling successful programs and organizations all over the country. Today, we begin with a program in Washington that aims to redirect youth who are, statistically speaking, hurtling towards involvement with law enforcement and the courts.
  • With ‘Raise the Age,’ Cuomo Continues Push to Reform Juvenile Justice (Gotham Gazette)
    A classic battle between law-and-order Republicans and progressive Democrats is brewing in the state Legislature as Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushes adoption of the recommendations of his Commission on Youth Public Safety and Justice – recommendations that include raising the age at which teens can be tried as adults.
  • How Communities are Keeping Kids Out of Crime (Christian Science Monitor)
    Lucas County, which includes Toledo, is one of the leaders in this movement. Juvenile Court officials here do the “my kid” test with every case. They want to ensure all young people are being treated fairly, and they live by the mantra “The right kid in the right place at the right time” – targeting services to their needs and taking care not to mix children who are unlikely to commit more crimes with high-risk youths.
  • To End Solitary Confinement, Rikers Steps Out Of The Box (NPR)
    New York’s Rikers Island is the second-largest jail in the U.S., and one of the most notorious. But with a single move, Rikers has taken the lead on prison reform on one issue: Last month, the prison banned the use of solitary confinement for inmates under 21 years old.

Jobs, Grants, Events and Webinars

  • Please share the Reclaiming Futures Opportunity Board with your colleagues in the juvenile justice, adolescent substance abuse and teen mental health areas. It’s free to browse and post!

Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment and Mental Health

  • Rampant medication use found among L.A. County foster, delinquent kids (LA Times)
    Los Angeles County officials are allowing the use of powerful psychiatric drugs on far more children in the juvenile delinquency and foster care systems than they had previously acknowledged, according to data obtained by The Times through a Public Records Act request.
  • Child Experience Study Can Identify Mental Illness Early (TWC News)
    Since the 1990s, doctors have used the Adverse Childhood Experience Study–or ACES–to understand what causes mental health problems in children. That study found that negative experiences in childhood–from abuse to even divorce–can shape the mental health of kids as they grow up.

Webinar Opportunity: Protect the Confidentiality of Juvenile Justice-Involved Youths

by Susan Richardson

On March 4, 2015 at 3 p.m. EST, the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) and the Coalition confidentialfor Juvenile Justice (CJJ) will host a webinar for juvenile justice professionals sharing best practices for protecting youth confidentiality. This includes recommendations for making the process of sealing and expungement accessible to youth. The consequences of poor confidentiality results in obstacles for youth in areas of employment, education and housing.

According to the co-sponsors, you will learn two key takeaways from this webinar:

  • Recommendations to protect your state’s youth, drawn from the Juvenile Law Center‘s recent report – Juvenile Records: A National Review of State Laws on Confidentiality, Sealing and Expungement
  • Examples from the work that Delaware Center for Justice (a NJJN member) has been doing to improve expungement laws in their state, and how they are addressing challenges and obstacles.

In order to best protect juvenile justice-involved youths and improve outcomes for them in the future, it’s necessary to take these extra steps and follow best practices for confidentiality.

Webinar Details

  • Protecting the Confidentiality of Juvenile Justice-Involved Youth: Access to Records, Expungement, and Sealing
  • When: Wednesday, March 4th, 2015 at 3 PM EST
  • Presenters:
    • Riya Saha Shah – Staff Attorney at Juvenile Law Center.
    • Kirstin Cornnell – Director of Operations at the Delaware Center for Justice.
  • Register here