By Nancy Tannler

 

The League of Women’s Voters recent presentation on “Juvenile Justice/Solutions for Youth in Trouble,” made it evident that Oregon is taking the lead to find a solution on a chronic problem of our society – juvenile delinquency.

Deena Corso, (Multnomah County Department of Community Justice), Margaret Braun and Shannon Myrick (Oregon Youth Authority–Department of Human Services) spoke about a new program linking child welfare systems called the Crossover Youth Practice Model (CYPM).

In 2007 a study at The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University confirmed evidence that if the juvenile justice system and child welfare systems worked together they can rapidly impact the outcome of a delinquent youth and reduce recidivism.

The Youth Reformation System (YRS) was developed by using a method of delivering the right services to the right youth in the right settings for the right amount of time.

Here in Portland, the YRS known as the Crossover Youth Practice Model, is being implemented with positive results. The goal is to reduce the number of children placed in out-of-home care; reduce disproportionate representation of children of color (a nationwide dilemma); reduce the number of youth who get new charges, increase family and youth voice in decision making and work together to provide needed services in a timely manner to families, youth and children.

This combined system of juvenile justice and child welfare working together begins when: 1) a youth with a child welfare case has police contact and a decision is made by juvenile justice and/or court that this contact should result in probation or other kind of informal court agreements; or 2) youth without a child welfare case has police contact and a decision is made by juvenile justice and or court that child welfare should be involved to help youth and family with placement, services or treatment.

It is at this juncture that a Juvenile Court Counselor and a welfare caseworker start to collaborate together, with the youth offender and with the family to decide how to handle the case.

Prior to the implementation of the YRS, it was easy for a youth to get caught up in an endless spiral of police contact, detention and release to either family or foster care. With no intervention from the Oregon Youth Authority(OYA), which easily happened before this crossover program – the cycle then begins all over again.

Currently if the youth is younger than 15 years of age at the time of their first offense, they are eligible to be in the care of the OYA. Offenders ages 15 and older charged with Measure 11 crimes go to adult court and,
if convicted, are sentenced to Oregon Department of Corrections.

Youth 18 and younger who are convicted through adult court can be placed in an OYA close-custody facility until age 25.

This collaboration of the juvenile justice and child welfare systems is providing support that can lead to success for young offenders.

It is modeled after Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The first level brings safety and security; caring and supportive relationships; expectations and accountability, meaningful participation and community connection. The necessary action plan to establish a stable life in our society.

The evening’s program was informative, hopeful and offered volunteer opportunities for people interested in helping to stabilize some of Portland’s disaffected youth.

Call OYA at 503.373.7205 for more information about opportunities to volunteer or see www.oregon.gov/oya.