Located at Fresno County Juvenile Justice Campus 3333 E American Ave, Fresno, CA 93725
*Becoming a positive resource to the incarcerated youth; to increase the youth’s success rate once they arereleased, as well as reducing crime and violence within the community.
Governing Board Advisory Board Chief Executive Officer (Nancy Pressley) Executive Assistant (Kirsten Lief)Bright Futures Program Manager (Patricia Aranas) Program Coordinator (Kirsten Lief) AmeriCorps-Vista (Justine Medrano) Interns and Volunteers
Youth that are currently incarcerated at the Juvenile Justice Campus Youth that are currently in the foster care system Typically most of the youth that are incarcerated may come from impoverished areas, single parent homes, oppressed populations, or gang involvement.
The entire Juvenile population that resides at the Juvenile Justice Campus, can be seen as at risk. Due to the fact that they are now at a disadvantage because they have entered into the Juvenile Justice system. But as stated earlier many of the youth that enter the system may have come from a single parent home, have children of their own, face poverty, abuse, and gang affiliations. Youth’s needs can vary, and Focus Forward does their best to address them all. A mentor can provide insight and support for the youth, what ever their situation may be. Bright futures offers parenting sessions for the youth and helps build a healthy relationship with their child. The agency has a resource binder that provides services for healthcare, legal advice, educational services, such as Trio, childcare, such as parenting classes, employment, such as Eoc program and DMV services, such as low-cost Identification.
Established in 2005, as a non-profit organization Their Mission: “Creating positive change and promoting successful outcomes for youth in the Fresno County juvenile justice and foster care systems.” (http://www.focusforward.org/home) Their Aim: Through their programs they hope to equip the youth with tools for success, which will in turn, reduce recidivism, decreasing social and monetary costs of incarceration, building healthier communities, and offering a new fresh start for all parties involved. (http://www.focusforward.org/home)
The Bright futures program is a prime example of creating positive change, the staff are well invested into this program, and show this through their involvement with the youth, and the learning sessions they provide. Through observations focus forward staff is very professional with the clients, as well as still showing that they care. Staff have went out of their way to throw two youths a pizza party because they graduated from the Bright futures program. One of my own youths are still allowed to participate in the family sessions in order for him to have that one on one time with his child, even though he has already completed the program. Both of these examples show that focus forward promotes successful outcomes as well.
While their intent is to equip youth with proper resources for successful outcomes, this is easier said then done. Focus forward does provide many resources that are helpful, but there is no guarantee that the youth will utilize these resources once they are released. This is where focus forward falls short, due to the fact that there is follow-ups on the youth once they are released, unless they are in the bright futures program.
Art (People from the community come in to donate their time to offer art, music and writing workshops. These workshops offer self-worth as well as a positive relationship between the youth and the adult.) Reproductive Health Education (Offered to youth ages 12- 17, the program titled “Healthy Options” offers health services, Medical education curriculum, and transition services. Classes are held at the JJC and led by Fresno Barrios Unidos. The goal is to provide the youth with, “education and opportunity to participate in wise family planning and to develop healthy and productive.” ) (http://www.focusforward.org/initiatives/teen-pregnancy) Bright Futures ( The program is funded by First 5 Fresno County, their goal is to strengthen families and youth at the Juvenile Justice Campus who are either pregnant or have children ages 0-5. The incarcerated youth participants in a visiting session with the child, in a room furnished with toys and videos. The 35 minute sessions are recorded by facilitator. They also proved a program called “Incredible years” for teens who have children, but for one reason or another, they can’t make it to the JJC site. The program entails 6 sessions taught by an instructor on a one on one basis. The Bright Futures program also offers case management, which includes job training, educational assistance as well as child care. ) (http://www.focusforward.org/initiatives/bright-futures) Mentoring and Case Management ( Youths are offered the opportunity to have a mentor, who is there to listen as well as engage the youth. The mentor also participates in case management with the youth by offering resources that can be utilized within the faculty as well as resources available to the youth once they are released. Mentors are usually individuals from the community that volunteer their time, as well as interns.) Foster Care Programs ( Best dressed kids: Offer clothes to foster youth in order for them to have proper clothing for school, as well as improve their self-image. Scholarships and Fundraisers are also provided in order to promote higher education for foster youth.)
Focus Forward provided training which covered setting professional boundaries, as well as covering what our role would be within the agency. Focus Forward expects mentors to model appropriate behavior, as well as provide resources to the youth. The first two weeks at Focus Forward, none of the interns were allowed to see any of the youth within the pods; Focus Forward and the Juvenile Justice campus made it a priority that all volunteers attend safety training, and for interns, mentor training as well, before we were allowed to begin mentoring. A background check is also performed for all volunteers and interns. This process helps focus forward eliminate any potential risks that might come along with someone having serious crimes on their record and working with the youth. Mentor training was very helpful, because it helped identify our purpose, as well as setting expectations, before having contact with the youth.
Social Justice: Focus Forward provides youth with outside resources once they are released, in order for them to make changes within their current status; so they may have equal opportunities in life. An example would be: Best Dressed Kids for foster youth. Social Work Values: Focus Forward embraces all of the core social work values: * service: Providing programs: Bright Futures and Mentoring * social justice: Resources for a equal playing field * dignity and worth of the person: Treating the client with respect and not judging them due to their crimes * importance of human relationships: Building rapport with the client, and seeing them at least once a week * integrity: Setting proper boundaries with the client * competence: Understanding our role as a mentor and knowing the resources we can provide Human Rights: Focus forward upholds the youth’s human rights through allowing self-determination , protecting their rights as child, as well as providing resources for education.