What Can We Do To Support Youth In Transition?
by Laura Clark, Region One Community Outreach Specialist
THRIVE is making leaps and bounds with programming geared towards assisting youth in their transition back into the community after they commit a crime. Young people have explained to us some of the hardships they are facing when they leave the development centers or when people find out what they did. Family members don’t trust them, teachers and authority figures label them a delinquent, and peers don’t want to hang out with the “bad kid” for fear of retaliation by authority figures and family.
We have been focused on bridging the gap in the community with new programming that is youth and family driven. As the Community Outreach Specialist, I am creating a safe space for youth and their families to receive peer support and wrap around services at the juvenile justice department. Peer support provides youth and families with a person who will not judge or stigmatize them on the basis of their crime. We are passionate about sharing our own experiences in systems of care with youth and families to create awareness, promote youth voice and choice, and help families navigate their way out of the corrections system. We help youth and families advocate for what they want, ensuring that their voices are heard, so programs can address their needs as they name them.
We have partnered with Opportunity Alliance in Portland to provide families with Wrap Around services. Wrap Around is a unique type of case management in that each instance is completely individualized to a family’s natural supports and strengths. Wrap Around group meetings can consist of family members and family support partners, youth and youth support partners, family friends, therapists, other case managers, juvenile community corrections officers, and any other individual who works with the family. At these meetings, the family works together with all their providers to increase communication and stability in the family. At group meetings, we have worked on many different needs the youth or family has expressed. From finding a counselor to finding a food source for the month, Wrap Around teams work together with the youth and family to get their needs met.
Focusing on the progression into the community can better prepare youth for the challenges that lie ahead. They often return to their communities stigmatized by their crimes and their self-image of being labeled a delinquent. By providing families with Peer Support services and Wrap Around we are creating the atmosphere for lower recidivism rates for youth offenders in Maine.