The following Q&A originally appeared in the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) January newsletter and is reprinted here with permission.
Q: How can our juvenile drug court (JDC) maintain and sustain a mentoring program?
A: Mentoring programs can enhance the success and effectiveness of JDCs. Maintaining and sustaining a mentoring program requires cooperation among JDCs, community, and stakeholders. JDCs must have access to a full range of funding, staffing, and community resources required to sustain a mentoring program over the long term.
The longevity of any JDC program relies upon funding and community support. Courts that have been successful have leveraged cross-system resources and opportunities to obtain more funding from all available state and community resources. Community support increases the adaptability and sustainability of mentoring programs by providing mentors, funders, collaborators, and communication agents. It also increases opportunities for contact between youth and positive environments, provides activities for mentors and youth to engage in, and provides youth a feeling of belonging.
Another important programmatic component is having a strong mission statement, clear goals, and a shared vision. Reducing substance use and increasing community safety and family functioning are examples of common goals of the JDC. Incorporating the mentoring goals into the JDC is essential to increase team cohesion, family support, and overall program effectiveness. Important mission-driven goals include having a high level of communication among the JDC team, mentors and mentor program team; careful matching of mentors with JDC youth; effective training for mentors that includes training in mentoring program rules and guidelines; commitment to the mentor relationship (typically a year or longer); and access to support from the program staff, community, and other organizations.
The longevity of any mentoring program relies upon effective recruitment of new mentors and maintaining active mentors. Including adequate recruitment and screening practices and carefully matching mentors and mentees will enhance program success. Ongoing recruitment strategies should employ various strategies (e.g., community organizations and clubs, the faith-based community, local employers, universities, volunteer fairs, and on-line databases). Staff should conduct in-person interviews and background checks and gather information regarding interests, availability, and demographic characteristics for matching purposes. Including mentors in JDC case planning, treatment plans, and court hearings can help enhance collaboration and commitment.
Please visit the Montgomery County Juvenile Court website for additional information on their Natural Helpers mentoring program or click here to view a sample information packet from Natural Helpers including their brochure, publication list, sample interview questions, and file inventory forms for their mentoring program. For information about the Natural Helpers mentoring program, please contact Tricia Lucido at email@example.com.
NCJFCJ encourages JDCs to implement mentoring programs in their courts. For more information about implementing mentor programs or assistance, please contact Elo Chaparro at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tricia Lucido is the Project Director for Reclaiming Futures in Dayton, Ohio at the Montgomery County Juvenile Court. She promotes the Reclaiming Futures project and seeks funding for additional evidence-based treatment options to better serve families in her community. Tricia joined the Reclaiming Futures project in October of 2015. Her professional experience includes working with youth who have addiction challenges. She has been involved with the Montgomery County Juvenile Drug Court for over ten years. Tricia is a licensed Ohio Chemical Dependency Counselor and is a member of the National Association for Drug Court Professionals. She regularly speaks on treatment collaborations and mentoring and has presented for national addiction conferences. Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice/Legal Studies from Georgia College and State University and a master’s degree in Criminal Justice Administration from the University of Cincinnati. She has a passion for working with youth and their families. When not at work, Tricia enjoys working on DIY projects with her husband of eighteen years and their two sons.