Projects: Family as Partners: Support for Youth Reentry in Ohio
Vera is helping the Ohio Department of Youth Services (DYS) develop and refine tools to establish and implement a family-oriented approach in its policies and practices. The partnership will enhance Ohio’s ability to serve young people in its juvenile justice system as well as their families. It will also advance an approach other jurisdictions can use to work more closely with youth and their social networks. The project is supported by the Public Welfare Foundation.
This partnership will enhance Ohio’s ability to serve families and the young people who are involved in its juvenile justice system, reinforce consistency in the family-focused approach between facilities and parole, and create an approach to state-level engagement that could be applied in other jurisdictions around the country.
DYS was a critical partner in developing the Family Justice Program's Juvenile Relational Inquiry Tool and is the first state to use the tool statewide. Vera will provide training and technical assistance to support Ohio’s goal of implementing agency-wide family-oriented policies and practices. To help young people's transition from a facility to the community, security staff will administer the JRIT within one month of placement. The JRIT will be shared with the youth’s parole officer to help ensure that reentry planning begins early and family is defined broadly.
Why help incarcerated youth maintain family ties?
The majority of youth leaving juvenile facilities will return home to a family member or another guardian. Research shows that incarcerated young people who maintain positive relationships with their loved ones are more likely to succeed—both while they are incarcerated and after they return to the community. Once they return home, they may meet more of their goals and have better overall outcomes if they have the support of family members. Case management and parole plans should incorporate key people in their lives to help address and manage the inevitable challenges that arise.
People who work in facilities or in parole have an important role to play, not only with youth but with their families. Staff in security and case-management roles can encourage communication between young people and their loved ones and can engage family members supportively.