A leading philanthropy this week announced the next group of organizations to receive training aimed at encouraging juvenile justice professionals to embrace and spread the principles of positive youth development.
In the view of the reformers, frontline staff should be less concerned with sternly enforcing rules to keep kids in line and more about building on the strengths and assets that they and their families bring to the table.
The training prepares staff to better support, divert and redirect youth to appropriate and fair justice options.
At the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation, a nonprofit that seeks to help disadvantaged kids make a good life for themselves, that’s the idea behind its Reimagining Juvenile Justice curriculum.
In this second year of training, the work will be done online because of COVID-19.
Frontline staffers and mid-level employees from 16 state and local juvenile justice agencies and related organizations who work with youth will take part. From there, the 55 participants are expected to train others where they work in the same techniques.
The trainees will be taught how to make achieving racial and ethnic equity a focus of their work to change how systems operate. In addition, they’ll be trained on how to navigate and collaborate with other public systems to connect kids with the resources they need to develop into successful adults and avoid the pipeline to adult prisons.
The foundation selected the groups based on the quality of the initiatives they presented in their applications, such as launching youth-led and adult-guided countywide advisory workgroups and more family-friendly discharge processes for youth who are going off probation.
Early adopters, according to the foundation, credit the Reimagining Juvenile Justice curriculum with making their staff more receptive to opportunities for positive youth development for the young people they support.
In the first year, participants delivered the course to about 450 colleagues in 14 sites. Among the sites involved were probation, juvenile detention, child welfare, youth and family services, courts, local law enforcement, school districts, community-based agencies and more.
This year’s 16 selected sites:
- AMIkids, Inc, East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana
- 29th Judicial Court St. Charles Parish, Louisiana
- Cadence Care Network, Ashtabula, Ohio
- Camden County Dept. of Corrections, Youth Services Commission, New Jersey
- Charter County of Wayne, Detroit, Michigan
- Colorado Dept. of Probation, Greeley, Colorado
- Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court, Ohio
- Delaware Center for Justice, Wilmington, Delaware
- Delaware County Juvenile Court, Ohio
- Florida Circuit 7 Dept. of Juvenile Justice Advisory Council, Volusia County, Florida
- Juvenile Court of Fairfield County, Ohio
- Lorain County Dept. of Probation and Youth Services, Ohio
- Madison County Juvenile Probation, Indiana
- Madison County Juvenile Court, Tennessee
- Neighborhood College Hemet, Riverside, California
- Siblings Together, Washington, D.C.