Interns leave durable reintegration solutions for older minors

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How many college interns can say their projects can have a lasting impact on future young people as they reintegrate into society after spending time in the state’s juvenile justice system? Hannah Ridgeway and Julia Husk can say a definite “Yes”, although neither of them gave it much thought during their recent internship in the Community Programs Section of the Juvenile Justice and Justice Division. crime prevention.

Students pursuing their master’s degrees at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have been tasked with finding cost-effective solutions for older minors reentering society in the state.

Ridgeway researched Housing First models for youth 18 and older and found Youth Focus of Greensboro, whose model is best conceptualized as a dormitory environment. Emerging adults live in apartments owned by Youth Focus with the support of staff. Ridgeway was able to engage Youth Focus in expanding its HEARTH TLP program to provide up to four apartments for youth involved in juvenile justice who would otherwise be homeless due to their circumstances. The program is currently in the start-up phase.

“With the increase in juvenile jurisdiction, in some cases up to 21, community programs have focused on creating a stronger continuum of services for the minors we serve who are 18 and older,” said said Brittany Schott, contracts administrator for community programs who supervised the interns. . “Housing First models are a service that will add to the continuum and aim to provide individuals with safe, stable and affordable housing which in turn supports the individual’s ability to find employment, complete his studies and to focus on his mental health needs. The model creates long-term impacts on public safety by ensuring that the emerging adult population is supported while gaining more independence, thereby reducing recidivism and helping to improve their ability to become successful members of our communities. .

Husk helped develop an extensive peer mentorship program that will be used at Eckerd Boomer’s Boys Residential Academy in Wilkes County. The short-term facility offers individualized treatment and academic plans that combine formal and experiential education, vocational education, community service, behavioral health, and family counseling. However, on-site staff are always looking for innovative ways to improve the experience and learning of young people on campus.

“The Peer Mentoring Program will be used at the Eckerd Boomer site for men and will be led by two amazing Eckerd staff members,” Schott said. “I envision them continuing to invest in the program and using it to build youth skills before they reintegrate into their home communities.”

Husk examined the growing emphasis on peer mentorship programs and the ability to help both the mentor and the ‘mentee’ through the creation of a structured peer mentorship program and the provision of programs. Schott said the goal is to help young people who are months away from returning home improve their skills by mentoring young people who are new to the residential site.
“This peer mentoring manual (71 pages) prepares not only for mentoring boys, but also for managing anger and being a good friend. It will help them once they get out of the treatment facility,” said Husk, who is looking to pursue a doctorate. “What I have created can be used or reproduced in other installations.

“I want it to empower them. I want to give these young people a fighting chance. Some had poor home lives. I want to give them another tool in their tool belt to help them succeed.

The interns did not know the inner workings of the community programs section, nor how it interacted within DJJDP, before starting their research projects. But they knew a little about the overall mission of DJJDP.

“I went to Boomer. I’ve seen juvenile court, attended state meetings and back-to-school meetings. I started to understand the trial process better,” said Husk, whose roommate worked with minors for the Durham County Sheriff’s Office. “I discovered that community programs kept children close to home. It really started to click, and I was excited to do this project.
Ridgeway said she had experience as an undergrad with a youth involved in juvenile justice.

“My undergraduate focus was youth rehabilitation,” Ridgeway said. “I wanted to get into JJ. Most children seemed to go through the criminal justice system and then go into the community. It was more like a punishment. I did not know the structure (of DJJDP) and the number of steps and processes that children go through who were not sent to a youth development center. I learned a lot.”
“Our interns have done a lot of leg work and research trying to find programs in North Carolina,” said Community Programs Director Cindy Porterfield. “We have now identified a successful model program thanks to the energy, focus and interviews of the interns.”

Schott said she was not surprised at the success of these projects.

“The advantage of a social work internship is that it is intended to be educational and enriching for the student, but also to support the work of the host organization. Hannah and Julia demonstrated immense strengths from the moment they began their field placements in community programs. They both have a passion for learning and are able to work independently,” Schott said.

“The work they have produced reflects their ability to understand the connections of the system, to focus on the details and to want to have a positive impact. The projects also reflect their growing knowledge of the juvenile justice system.

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