When youth finish treatment and get off probation, they leave behind a team of adults paid to help them succeed. Before that happens, youth need to be connected to caring adults and positive activities, such as sports, the arts, employment, local churches, or volunteering.
Reclaiming Futures focuses participating sites on building new partnerships, not only with parents, caregivers, and established community-based youth service organizations, but also with non-traditional partners, including businesses and the faith community.
As teens progress, their community connections and activities should assume greater importance as the juvenile court gradually cedes control. The aim is to develop a network of caring adults with whom youth in the justice system can be connected — a wide range of activities where they can learn social skills, job skills, and new behaviors that will help them stay drug-free and crime-free long after they complete treatment and probation.
Our site in Montgomery County, OH, successfully built a program that has trained and linked over 190 “natural helpers” with youth in the justice system, but many other communities have also made great strides.