Reclaiming Future’s JMATE Updates and Live Blog

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Our friends at Reclaiming Futures have settled in at the Joint Meeting of Adolescent Treatment Effiectiveness (JMATE) and have been live blogging the whole thing on their blog. Read on for all the updates.


JMATE 2012: Ask a Judge: Demystifying Juvenile Court and How Judges and Treatment Providers Can Partner Together Successfully by Liz Wu

Earlier this afternoon, I sat in on a JMATE panel with three judges who discussed how Reclaiming Futures works in their courts and why other courts should consider implementing the model.

Judge Capizzi of Dayton, Ohio, began the presentation with the problem: too many teens today are struggling with drugs, alcohol and crime. Eighty percent of the youth Judge Capizzi sees have alcohol or other drug problems and many are self medicating. And this is not unique to Ohio.

As a juvenile court judge, Judge Capizzi finds that treatment helps reduce recidivism, saves money and builds safer communities. BUT most juvenile courts are not set up to detect and treat substance abuse or provide mental health services. And this is where the six step Reclaiming Futures model comes in. Under the Reclaiming Futures model, court teams are set up with a judge, probation officer, treatment provider and community members. The teams work together to make sure that kids are screened for alcohol and other drugs at intake and sent to treatment when needed.

Judge Beth Dixon from Rowan County, North Carolina, stressed that through Reclaiming Futures, her court is saving money and putting kids on the path to recovery. She explained that she may not even see some of the troubled youth, because they are assessed at intake and may be diverted to treatment programs. Out of all the kids sent to treatment last year, only 9% failed to complete it. In her court, recidivism is at 11% which is much better than the statewide average of 34%. Judge Dixon stressed that folks need to let their juvenile judges know that they can do better than the status quo and Reclaiming Futures is a viable (and proven) option.

Judge Bruce Weiss of Snohomish County, Washington discussed the importance of building relationships between the court, probation and treatment providers. As a juvenile court judge, he’s implemented Friday night game nights where probation, treatment, court and community members come together to get to know each other and strengthen their relationships.

Judge Weiss also noted the importance for troubled teens to have positive adult role models and mentors. Many of the kids he sees in court lack positive adult relationships so in Snohomish County, they are working on partnering with Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

Questions ranged on the role of families in the Reclaiming Futures model (very important in steps 3-6), the cost (Judge Capizzi said the cost is zero when savings are factored in) and how to learn more about Reclaiming Futures (click here).

The panel ended with Judge Dixon saying, “what we do is we try our best to keep these kids at home with their families.” The role of juvenile court judges is to help troubled young people get treatment and back on the path to success.


JMATE 2012: Recovery Schools by Liz Wu

Across the country, substance abusing teens are dropping out of high school at alarming rates. But a recovery high school in downtown Boston is targeting youth in recovery with great success. At a JMATE 2012 panel on recovery schools, a staff member from Ostiguy Recovery School spoke about the differences between a recovery school and a regular school. At Ostiguy Recovery School:

  • Students receive recovery support and counseling in addition to math and science
  • Students lead their own sobriety groups which empowers them to take control of their lives
  • Students WANT to be there (this is not a mandated rehab program)
  • Students outreach at area schools to let troubled students know there is another option

It will be interesting to see if other communities open their own recovery schools…


Live blogging at JMATE: Organizational Issues in an Era of Change by Mac Prichard

This morning I attend a panel discussion on how organizations manage change. Chaired by Dan Merrigan, a professor at Boston University who manages the Reclaiming Futures leadership program, the session featured three presentations that addressed key communication and collaboration challenges.

Dr. Merrigan focused on the role of leadership in the initiative. “At Reclaiming Futures, we believe leadership is about setting direction, creating alignment, and maintaining commitment,” said Dr. Merrigan. “ According to Dr. Merrigan, the Reclaiming Futures leadership culture is a collective activity distributed across boundaries and it exists without formal authority. “Leadership is adaptive, strategic, and relational,” said Dr. Merrigan.

Dr. Merrigan stressed that it’s important to recognize that change always causes anxiety. “We urge people to distinguish between technical work (which requires mechanical fixes),” he said, “and adaptive work (which requires addressing change). To accomplish this, Reclaiming Futures helps local teams build teams across systems, cultures and organizations that identify their adaptive challenges.”

Dennis Reilly, Project Director for Reclaiming Futures of Nassau County, New York, spoke next. “We’re not boundary busters, but boundary circumnavigators,” said Reilly about his project. “We used Reclaiming Futures as an opportunity to enhance and improve existing services like youth court, or to involve new partners like the Vera Institute of Justice.”

Evan Elkin, director of planning and government innovation at the Vera Institute of Justice, advised the Nassau County Reclaiming Futures project on adoption of evidence based drug and alcohol treatment models.

“We tried something different in Nassau County,” said Elkin. “We invested in a coaching process. Nassau County has 50 different treatment providers. It’s a large, diverse community. We had to leave a lot of different ways for providers to get involved.” According to Elkin, some of the techniques they used included training more than 200 people, developing online video training materials, and collaborating with Adelphi University on an evidence-based practice curriculum.

David Smith closed the session with a brief primer on privacy issues and recent changes in federal laws, especially the Health Information Technology for Clinical Health Act.

Smith said the most important development were new sanctions, including fines and legal liability. Providers need to be aware of these changes and incorporate them into their business practices.


JMATE 2012: Day 1 Takeaways by Liz Wu

Well, JMATE is off to a great start! Day one is over and we’re all looking forward to day two. Here are our takeaways from today:

Jim Carlton, Deputy Director, Reclaiming Futures

  • Funding for prevention has been steadily declining over the years.
  • We’re now seeing an uptick in marijuana (and alcohol???) usage among teens as prevention messages and perceived risks decrease.
  • Recovery services need to become as available as drugs and alcohol are.
  • Child maltreatment is the biggest predictor of co-occurring disorders.
  • Use of illegal substances and alcohol by adolescent girls have risen to nearly that of boys. Girls are more likely to abuse prescription drugs
  • There is ongoing tension around evidence based practices and culturally based services. For example, there are hundreds of federally recognized native tribes in the U.S. but very little research done to validate evidence based practices with them. Many native treatment approaches have not been studied.

Cora Crary, Learning Collaborative Manager, Reclaiming Futures

  • The language we use helps determine the response we get. Example: long-term recovery vs. addict.
  • We allow drugs and alcohol to be pervasive in our schools, but do not find ways to ensure recovery resources are as accessible.
  • The youth and families in treatment should be part of your program’s planning and soluctions.
  • Working collaboratively helps ensure better outcomes for the community.
  • When seeking grant funds, don’t focus on the money, focus on the opportunity for better ways to serve your clients.
  • Don’t flee social ills, try to address and resolve the problems where they are at.

Liz Wu, Blog Editor, Reclaiming Futures

  • Addiction affects everyone, regardless of ethnicity, socio-economic status or gender.
  • Juvenile court judges want to get troubled youth the help they need, not incarcerate.
  • At recovery high schools, students are there because they want to be, which empowers them to seek help and support services.
  • When using social media with people in recovery, privacy is important. Need to refrain from “outing” people in recovery without their permission.
  • The juvenile justice system was created with boys in mind but girls have different needs.

Stay tuned for more conference updates.



Live Blogging JMATE: The Juvenile Drug Court and Reclaiming Futures Models by Mac Prichard

This afternoon we heard about an upcoming evaluation of six Reclaiming Futures juvenile drug courts. Bridget Ruiz, a technical expert on adolescents from JBS International, chaired the session and opened the panel presentation with a discussion of the history of juvenile drug courts and Reclaiming Futures and also outlined the important elements of each approach.

“Evidence shows that combining the two models has been effective in helping young people, “ said Ruiz, who formerly was an associate professor at the University of Arizona.

Erika Ostlie, a senior policy associate at Carnevale Associates, gave an overview of an upcoming evaluation supported by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) of six federally funded Reclaiming Futures sites.

“This is a multi-site four-year evaluation of the two models,” said Ostlie, who will help manage the evaluation. “We will identify factors, elements and services that perform best with respect to o outcomes and cost effectiveness.” Besides Carnevale Associates, the other members of the evaluation team include the University of Arizona and Chestnut Health Systems.

“This study will address a huge gap in the literature,” said Ostlie. “There are more than 500 juvenile drug courts in the US but few studies about them exist.”

John Carnevale, president of Carnevale Associates, discussed federal drug policy since the 1980s, especially as it related to drug treatment and drug courts.

“We have lots of evidence now about effectiveness about adult drug courts,” said Carnevale. “We need more information about juvenile drug courts.


JMATE 2012: Remembering and Honoring John Berry by Liz Wu

This morning we took some time to honor and remember friends and mentors who passed away last year. I could never do these individuals and their legacies justice, so I’ll just say that we’ve lost some real life heroes and champions of youth who continue to inspire us daily.

Reclaiming Futures lost a tireless youth advocate and mentor last October. At this JMATE session, colleague Denise Mannon remembered John Berry and spoke about her experience in working with him. John was a true friend and supporter of youth who worked as a justice fellow at Reclaiming Futures in Forsyth County, North Carolina. John was a humble man who supported his colleagues and often thanked them for their dedication and work. He is greatly missed.

After his passing, Robin Jenkins (Chief Operating Officer, North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention) released the following statement, praising John for his work and dedication to young people:

John was an ardent supporter of Reclaiming Futures as well as a vocal advocate for social justice involving all youth. He had a strong passion for his work and the communities impacted by his efforts. As the Justice Fellow, he was a leader and innovator in the Forsyth area in Reclaiming Futures, and worked very hard to cultivate the model as well as natural supports for young folk involved in their care across Forsyth County. We hope that you join with us in expressing our deepest condolences to his wife Valerie and his three children.

Stay tuned for more updates. . . 







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