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Children in Need of Services


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The Georgia Child Welfare Legal Academy hosted The Honorable J. Russell Jackson and The Honorable John Sumner who presented their findings and recommendations for Children in Need of Services.

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Children in Need of Services

  1. 1. C.H.I.N.S. Status Offender Reform in Georgia Hon. J. Russell Jackson Juvenile Court Forsyth County Hon. John Sumner Juvenile Court Cherokee County Georgia Child Welfare Legal Academy Emory University Barton Center January 20, 2017
  2. 2. Children In Need of Services: CHINS  O.C.G.A.§§ 15-11-380 through 15-11-445  Reclassification of prior “status offenders”  Runaway  Unruly / ungovernable  Truancy  Possession of alcohol by minor now included  Various state approaches:  Family in need of services FINS  Persons in need of services PINS  Conduct indicating a need for supervision CINS  Family with service needs FWSN  Minor in need of services MINS
  3. 3. Purpose O.C.G.A 15-11-380  (1) To acknowledge that certain behaviors or conditions occurring within a family or school environment indicate that a child is experiencing serious difficulties and is in need of services and corrective action in order to protect such child from the irreversibility of certain choices and to protect the integrity of such child’s family;  (2) To make family members aware of their contributions to their family’s problems and to encourage family members to accept the responsibility to participate in any program of care ordered by the court;  (3) To provide a child with a program of treatment, care, guidance, counseling, structure, supervision, and rehabilitation that he or she needs to assist him or her in becoming a responsible and productive member of society; and  (4) To ensure the cooperation and coordination of all agencies having responsibility to supply services to any member of a family referred to the court.
  4. 4. Juvenile Justice Reform Georgia  New classification of youth that come before the court  Strict limitations on incarceration  Changes in how cases are legally filed and handled  Advocate attorneys for children required  Collaboration among agencies rather than one responsible agency  Court directed protocols and system  Prior system: status offenders were treated as a “lighter version” of delinquent: prosecuted by the district attorney, arraignment calendars, placed on probation and supervised by DJJ with same detention and dispositional options as delinquent cases  Reformed system: distinct group of at risk youth treated through community based risk reduction programs at the direction of the local Juvenile Court in collaboration with local agencies. Theme is prevention, diversion, and treatment
  5. 5. “Criminal Justice” Response
  6. 6. “Children in Need of Services” Response
  7. 7. Why is CHINS important?  Basic principle of a Juvenile Court System: youth referred to the court or experiencing problems in school are not mini adults: they are at-risk children  Youth who present as a status offender can range from a child whose safety is at risk, whether by the parent or the child’s own actions, to a teenager acting on heightened emotions or risk taking behavior as a part of normal adolescent brain development.  Reduce court caseloads, reduce incarceration, better allocate resources, achieve improved outcomes for young people and families  Community involvement and support opportunities
  8. 8. Status Offenses and Underlying Issues  Youth anxiety, depression, poor self esteem, or other mental health issues  Risky adolescent behavior, immaturity  Family substance abuse  Child safety issues: Child abuse/neglect/domestic violence/lack of parental supervision  Sexual exploitation  Social media bullying, learning disabilities, physical health issues  School issues: school climate, harsh discipline policy, truancy approach  Lack of parental involvement and emphasis on importance of school attendance and academic achievement  Lack of community resources  “Throwaway Youth”/”Independent youth”/Homeless family  Untreated trauma
  9. 9. Outcomes for Untreated CHINS  Victimization: neglect, abuse, sexual exploitation  School dropout or low education success  Long term physical and mental health consequences, including substance abuse  Escalating behavior leading to criminal justice involvement as youth and adult  Homelessness  Lost opportunity to help youth reach their potential
  10. 10. Effective CHINS Systems  Court protocols/ Collaboration  Prompt response and screening  Data  Assessment tools  Diversion programs  Effective treatment
  11. 11. Collaboration  Who: judge, court staff, DFCS, DJJ, mental health, school, prosecution (District Attorney and State Court Solicitor), law enforcement (SROs), volunteer agencies, county government, child advocate attorney, guardian ad litem (CASA), child welfare non-profit agencies, community volunteers  Method: role of the judge (leader, co-leader, advisory), system establishment, ongoing meetings, decision making process, participation by all members
  12. 12. Assessment  Initial intake/ Screening  Determine underlying cause and what services, if any, are needed  Direct on system path  Needs assessment  Judgement call, Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument (MAYSI-2), Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS), Family Strengths and Needs Assessment, Washington Assessment of Risks and Needs of Students (WARNS), self reporting  Treatment options  Ongoing assessment  Treatment effectiveness  Reassess youth and family needs
  13. 13. Data
  14. 14. Data System  Goals:  Standardize the data collection process  Track outcomes  Track outcomes on cases diverted to DFCS or DJJ  Develop a data system with data collection and tracking protocols designed to create a dashboard and snapshot of the CHINS system, target community needs, track outcomes, identify strengths and deficiencies (i.e. ineffective interventions or duplicative services), and serve as a basis for ongoing review and improvements.  Objectively review the effectiveness of the system and justify the resource and time investment.
  15. 15. Data Fields  Data fields:  Bio: age, gender, race/ethnicity, offense(s)  Outcome: Diversion at Intake; Diversion to DJJ; Diversion to DFCS; Diversion agreement successful; Diversion agreement failed; Court Intervention  Recidivism: 6 month pre-offense and 6 month, 12 month post case closed: number and type offense(s);  Education: 6 month pre-offense and 6 month post, 12 month post case closed: attendance, disciplinary reports, grade point average;  Services provided to the family: (list of current court programs);  Well being: 6 and 12 month post closing of case: youth reports same, better, or no difference; family reports same, better, or no difference  90 day follow up
  16. 16. Forsyth County Juvenile Court CHINS System  Community Risk Reduction Program and protocol (O.C.G.A. 15-11-38)  At-Risk Children’s Committee (ARCC) (Implementation Order Attached)  Referrals from complaint  Multi-agency, multi-disciplined committee  Diversion from legal system and official court involvement  Action plans, reviews, follow-up (Case Progress Review Team)  Resource oriented  Counseling & Therapy  Differential Case Management Tracks  Local Interagency Planning Team Involvement
  17. 17. Juvenile Court Forsyth County CHINS Protocol  Upon receiving complaint, intake officer reviews and completes a referral to ARCC Coordinator for a family assessment and interview with child and family  Complaints are “received” not “stamp-filed” by the clerk avoiding mandatory time constraints  ARCC Coordinator notifies committee and committee meets with child and family to form an action and service plan  Services are put in place to begin immediately  ARCC Coordinator implements follow up plan with Progress Review Panel of retired educators and medical professionals  Follow-up with school, DJJ, other professionals weekly  If no improvement within maximum of 120 days, complaint is forwarded for petitioning and adjudication with assignment of advocate counsel
  18. 18. Diversion Programs  ARCC  Boys Lodge  Jesse’s House  Daytime detention  Winds of Change  Peer Court  LCSW and MFT (Group & Ind)  Choices  SMART  Reality Check  Mentor Me North Georgia  Supervision Center  On-line Educational Programs  Parenting Classes  Teen Foundations  Real Care Babies  Real Life Program  7-Habits of Highly Effective Teens
  19. 19. Juvenile Court Cherokee County CHINS System  Diversion based  On going collaboration: review, delegate tasks, regular meetings, short and long term goals  Data based  Protocol
  20. 20. Juvenile Court Cherokee County CHINS Protocol  Upon filing of complaint, intake officer reviews on same day. Intake will determine if DFCS or DJJ is involved with the family. If not, intake will contact family for current status:  Quick response, no duplication of services, current concerns regarding youth  Case staffed with prosecuting attorney and set for court:  District attorney and law enforcement input. Efficient system to provide legal representation to the youth.
  21. 21. Juvenile Court Cherokee County CHINS Protocol  On court date, case is staffed with CHINS coordinator, family, child, and child attorney. Diversion agreement entered or matter set for court:  Due process and statutory requirements met  CHINS coordinator becomes case manager:  Case management for services, ongoing assessments, data collection, and directing the family through the service plan, 90 day follow up
  22. 22. Diversion Programs  Anger Management  Parent Teen Communication  Teach one to Lead One  Early Recovery Skills Group  Individual Counseling  Family Counseling  Truancy Panels  Alcohol and Drug Impact Panel
  23. 23. Status Offender Reform Goal: Improving Services to Youth and Families  Interconnected system: school: climate, discipline, truancy, and educational success; mental health services; court systems; law enforcement; child welfare; prevention; community involvement (local government, civic organizations, faith based community)  Examples: Centralized intake point where youth and families are screened, assessed, and treatment plan developed; mental health crisis intervention teams; Community Treatment Centers  Effective System: Trauma-informed system, family engagement, continuity of care, multi-disciplinary and collaborative approach with effective screening, assessments, treatment plans in the community as opposed to court involvement. Avoid courts and detention and strengthen support for families to improve educational and life outcomes
  24. 24. FOR MORE INFORMATION  FORSYTH COUNTY JUVENILE COURT  Rebecca M. Rusk, Court Administrator phone: 770-781-3099  CHEROKEE COUNTY JUVENILE COURT  Carla Poole, CHINS coordinator phone: 678-493-6256  Acknowledgement: A special thank you for the use of reference materials from Vidhya Ananthakrishnan and Byron Kline of the Vera Institute of Justice