Expanding Trauma-Informed Systems of Care Principles in Maine
In August 2012, the Maine Department of Corrections (MDOC), Division of Juvenile Services and the THRIVE Initiative were awarded a SAMHSA System of Care Expansion Implementation Cooperative Agreement grant to expand the trauma-informed system of care learning and approach to juvenile justice. Called “Expand ME” the program has three major goals: To create an infrastructure within Juvenile Services for providing trauma-informed services; To ensure youth involved with juvenile justice are screened, assessed and referred to effective services in a way that promotes family driven and youth guided principles; and To reinforce trauma-informed system of care practices statewide through training, technical assistance and social marketing. As part of this expansion, THRIVE has created positions within Maine’s juvenile justice system to serve the southern and northern regions of the state. The intent of the Community Outreach Specialists (COS) is to identify youth with trauma and mental health needs earlier in the juvenile justice process, to help youth and families understand and navigate the juvenile justice system, prioritize their own needs, identify their strengths and link them to needed services and supports. The long-term goal is that early intervention from the COS will help the youth from continuing further into the juvenile justice system or returning to that system. Each COS has lived experience as a parent/caregiver or family member of a child with special needs and/or with Juvenile Services, Mental health or Child Welfare. Moreover, each has received training in the Juvenile Justice and children’s mental health system; evidence based treatment, trauma-informed system of care principles and practices and mandated reporting. The Community Outreach Specialists offer short-term (~3 months) peer support to families with youth, 12-20, diagnosed with a serious emotional disturbance (SED), whose offenses have placed them on informal adjustment, probation or community reintegration from one of Maine’s correctional facilities. The COS staff are co-located in the Juvenile Services regional offices in South Portland (serving York and Cumberland Counties) and Bangor (serving Penobscot, Piscataquis, Aroostook, Hancock and Washington Counties).
THRIVE and Juvenile Justice Services want to know if services in Maine meet the needs of the children, youth and families who live here. We also want to learn how to improve the quality of the services that children, youth and families receive. To find out, youth and families are invited to be part of a special research study. All youth and families working with the Community Outreach Specialist are invited to be part of the study. The results of this study will be used to improve services for children and families in Maine and across the country. Taking part in this study is entirely up to the youth and families involved with Juvenile Justice Services. Hornby Zeller Associates (HZA) located in South Portland, Maine conducts the research study and works closely with he Community Outreach Specialist to collect the information for the study