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Moving Toward Equal Ground: Engaging the Capacity of Youth, Families, and Communities to Improve Treatment Services and Outcomes in the Juvenile Justice System

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Abstract:

Reclaiming Futures is a comprehensive approach to helping youth caught in the cycle of drugs, alcohol, and crime. An initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Reclaiming Futures promotes new opportunities and standards of care in juvenile justice by bringing communities together to improve drug and alcohol treatment, expand and coordinate services, and find jobs and volunteer work for young people in trouble with the law.

Ten communities across the nation have been involved in developing and testing the Reclaiming Futures model. In each of these communities, families of youth in the system and community members who support them were part of the leadership team. These family and community members came together as Community Fellows to share experiences and learn from each other.

This publication is intended to share what the Community Fellows of Reclaiming Futures, have learned about the crucial role families and community members can play in improving the way they help teens in the juvenile justice system who are struggling with drug and alcohol use. Families and community members have the right to be involved in decisions affecting these adolescents. They provide positive social opportunities that keep teens away from drugs and alcohol. They also have the experience needed to help shape changes in the way youths are treated in the system.

This report makes the case for involving families and community members in the juvenile justice system. It then describes the Reclaiming Futures model, and how family and community involvement is an essential part of each stage of the model. Several examples are given to show how this has been integrated in the 10 Reclaiming Futures sites.