Bolstering family connections in the juvenile reentry process

Ryan Shanahan Director, Restoring Promise // Krista Larson Former Director
Aug 24, 2011

The National Reentry Resource Center recently published a page of frequently asked questions about juvenile justice. It’s an ambitious list, and we were happy to see that family engagement was included as a topic. People in the field continue to express interest in finding meaningful ways to involve young people’s families during all stages of the reentry process.

The section on family engagement features a webinar, “Family Engagement in Reentry for Justice-Involved Youth,” which highlights the range of Vera’s work providing and teaching family-focused reentry work through the Adolescent Portable Therapy project and theFamily Justice Program.

The webinar provided us an opportunity to reflect on the principles our projects have in common—an unwavering focus on tapping the strengths of young people and their families; the importance of defining “family” as broadly as the youth does (instead of imposing a standard description); and searching for positive relationships even when those connections are not immediately apparent.

The webinar also afforded us the chance to explore how our programs apply these principles differently. The Family Justice Program trains and supports staff in juvenile justice facilities to use communication techniques and information-gathering tools that emphasize families. APT therapists engage families directly in their homes and communities. Each intervention contributes to the field in a unique way, bolstering family connections for young people in every jurisdiction where we work.