Starting this spring, the Delaware County Juvenile Court hopes to offer “Reimagining Juvenile Justice” training to local agencies and organizations in order to help keep youths out of the justice system.
Court staff — Chief Probation Officer Kara Moore and probation officers Gia DeGirolamo and Megan Rivers — took part in the nationwide “Reimagining Juvenile Justice” (RJJ) training held in October 2020 and are now planning to pass the knowledge along to local educations, lawyers, members of law enforcement and community organizations.
Moore said the training will be spread out over six sessions, each lasting a few hours, and the sessions will more than likely take place twice a month for three months. She added the court hopes to get the trainings off the ground over the spring and summer months, and the court is currently trying to find a virtual platform for the training.
Moore said the RJJ curriculum is designed to help support, divert, and redirect youth to appropriate and effective justice options by taking a cross-system collaborative approach. She said the course modules include an introduction to positive youth development fundamentals, utilizing a cross-systems approach, addressing race and ethnic equality and inclusion issues in policy and practice, engaging youth voice and empowering youth leadership, fostering positive family relationships in the juvenile justice system, and transforming policy and practice.
Moore added she and the other trainers will be able to condense the training a bit for local officials because the county is already doing well in terms of juvenile initiatives.
“A lot of places don’t have the support we have,” Moore said. “Delaware County is really further ahead than a lot of places in terms of juvenile initiatives. We don’t want to repeat things we already know.”
Moore said interested parties can contact her at 740-833-2638, and the training can help “anyone who might have a kid who could enter the juvenile justice system.”
“It’s geared towards other community agencies that work with juveniles,” she added. “The goal is cross collaboration and positive youth development. What community resources can we pull to work with that kid so we’re just not the one-stop shop all the time, and they don’t end up with court involvement. There’s so many kids that just don’t have the support. Really an opportunity to get everybody together and say, ‘Hey, what can we do better for these kids to give them (a more positive future).”
The juvenile court reported it’s use of detention has declined since 2016 and cited its use of evidence-based practices and its use of alternatives to detention to hold youth accountable for their behavior.
“Detention is intended for use where it is necessary to protect public safety, or the safety of the juvenile,” said Delaware County Probate and Juvenile Court Judge David Hejmanowski. “Juvenile courts nationwide continue to use it appropriately in those circumstances. But too often, detention is utilized out of frustration or as a last resort because there are not other resources available. Training and programming such as RJJ are intended to educate everyone in the juvenile justice environment to ensure that we are using all of the resources available us to ensure the best outcome for the youth, their family, and the entire community.”
Moore said she’s looking forward to the training and the effect it will have on local juveniles.
“We have an excellent relationship with community partners and recognize it is because of these relationships we have been successful in reducing court involvement for the youth in our community,” Moore said. “We look forward to providing this training for frontline workers in Delaware County and building a larger cross-system collaboration to provide better outcomes for our youth. The kids in our community are the responsibility of the whole community, and it is our responsibility to make sure they achieve the best outcome possible for a successful future”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.