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Addressing Violence through a Community-Centered Approach

(Chicago) – A care coordination approach for justice-involved youth and their families has successfully reduced further youth involvement in the justice system during the first year after program completion.

The Juvenile Justice Collaborative (JJC), convened by Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, seeks to minimize further involvement in the justice system by youth who have been arrested, and reduce racial disparities by coordinating access to comprehensive support services that meet adolescents’ developmental needs.

In this program, TASC care coordinators are licensed clinicians who work with youth and their families to determine which services will be best for them. Youth are then placed in services with the appropriate community-based provider(s) for services.

Youth are referred by the Cook County Juvenile Probation Department to a centralized intake and referral home as part of the JJC. TASC care coordinators administer the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) assessment to develop a Family Care Plan that sets goals for youth and their families. Youth participants are 12-18 years old, have been arrested for either a felony or violent misdemeanor (such as fighting in school), and are living in one of five targeted Chicago police districts on the south and west sides of Chicago.

Care coordination lasts an average of 95 days, and care coordinators remain a resource for youth who choose to continue with services.

The success of JJC was presented at the 2019 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in Baltimore by Megan Larson, MA, who serves as the data specialist for Lurie Children’s Strengthening Chicago’s Youth (SCY) initiative.

Larson’s poster session, entitled “Addressing Violence through a Community-Centered Approach,” highlighted the work of the Juvenile Justice Collaborative. Joining Larson in her research were Leslie Helmcamp, MPAff; Cassandra Otoo, MSW; Rebecca Levin, MPH; and Karen Sheehan, MD, MPH, all of Lurie Children’s. 

Among their key findings:

  • No youth who was connected to services through the Juvenile Justice Collaborative in 2017 was re-arrested during their participation in the program.
  • 73 youth were enrolled in the JJC in 2017, of which 58 were connected to services through the JJC provider network, and 51 youth successfully completed their program. 
  • Youth who were engaged in services, developed goals, and made progress on those goals were successfully discharged from the program after 90 days of service.
  • Only 18% of youth who successfully completed the JJC program were re-referred to court within one year of being discharged from the JJC, compared to 32% of all diverted youth in Chicago with no prior referrals to court who were re-referred to court within one year, 52% with 1-3 prior referrals to court, and 61% with 4-7 prior referrals to court.

“Involvement in the justice system can have a long-lasting impact on the social determinants of health for youth and their families. Youth who spend time in detention centers are more likely to engage in criminal activity, do poorly in school and have substance use and mental health issues,” wrote SCY’s research team. “These findings may have policy implications for how care coordination is incorporated into community-based services to reduce youth involvement in the justice system and improve youth outcomes. In addition, this may ignite opportunities to promote a true system of care for youth in the juvenile justice system.”

In addition to Lurie Children’s and TASC, service providers and partners in the project include: Aunt Martha’s Youth Service Center; BUILD, Inc.; Heartland Human Care Services; Illinois Collaboration on Youth (ICOY); Lawrence Hall; Maryville Academy; New Life Centers of Chicagoland; SGA Youth & Family Services; UCAN; Youth Guidance; and Youth Outreach Services.

SCY provided data and significant portions of this article. Recidivism data were provided to SCY by the Cook County Juvenile Probation Department, and JJC participants were compared to all diverted youth in Chicago in 2016.

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