The Mission of Juvenile Services is:
- to serve children, adolescents and their families in Connecticut’s juvenile justice system,
- to protect public safety,
- to collaborate with the courts, communities and partners, and
- to provide a continuum of effective prevention, treatment and transitional services.
- Strengthening families
- Providing community-based services
- Effective collaboration
- Valuing culture and ethnicity
- Gender-responsive services
- Positive youth development
- Community safety
Philosophy – Restorative Justice
In addition to our commitment to public safety, the staff work tirelessly to provide children with the skills and services they need to succeed in their families and communities. These skills and services can be attained most effectively through a continuum of services that are close to the homes and communities where children and families live and that are driven by their needs – not of the institutions that serve them. We believe that children should receive treatment and care in the least restrictive setting consistent with public safety and should receive those services as close to home as possible to enable the continued involvement of families and communities upon which so much of children’s well-being and success depends.
This philosophical framework tracks closely with what is known as Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ), which has been adopted in numerous states besides Connecticut, including New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, Georgia and Colorado. BARJ balances two traditional approaches with a third, more modulated approach. On one end of the spectrum is a “support” model that takes the perspective that children need help to overcome antisocial behavior, and on the other end there is a “punishment” model, which assumes that children need to be incarcerated so that they can be “taught a lesson.”
BARJ offers a third approach that provides children with skills they need to succeed in the community and holds children accountable to their victims and the larger community. The values of this philosophy – public safety, accountability, and giving children skills to succeed –are integrated into all of our programs.
Voice, Choice and Hope
In a report issued in December 2005, entitled, “VOICE, CHOICE AND HOPE”, a consensus was reached by the key stakeholders in the State that reinforced this notion for children, families and their communities. Juvenile Services believes in voice, choice and hope for children and families involved in the juvenile justice system in Connecticut. Children in the juvenile justice system and their families need a voice, they need choice in the type of care they will receive and they need hope in order to move forward in their reintegration back to the community. Children who are committed to DCF as delinquents or Families With Service Needs (FWSNs) must be seen as individuals with specific needs and wishes. We must recognize that these children come from families and communities. We must strive to support children who are ready to thrive in communities that offer safe and welcome places for the children to return. Children must leave the juvenile justice system with the strength to use their own voices, with realistic choices for education and careers and the hope for a better future.
Portraits of Two Children
The children in the following stories are someone’s son; someone’s daughter; someone’s student; someone’s client; and they are each Connecticut’s future. Their stories illustrate how children would benefit from a more coordinated system of child-serving agencies, greater availability of consistent educational resources, the presence and accessibility of more community supports, and appropriate and timely assessments – just some of the goals and strategies that can be found within Connecticut’s Joint Juvenile Justice Strategic Plan. Understanding their stories and recognizing the work required to improve children’s outcomes is the first building block in constructing an improved juvenile justice system.
Jim: During his young life, Jim has lived with an abusive father, in several foster homes, with his mother, in a detention facility, and in a hospital. He has received services at various times and from various agencies. As quickly as agencies have entered his life, they have exited. When foster care was over, so were the services. When he left a school, his supports disappeared. Assessments and screenings to determine his needs and strengths were not performed. It was not until he was screened by a probation officer at 16 that it was discovered that he suffers from hallucinations. A consulting psychiatrist recommended that he undergo an inpatient evaluation, but Jim was nevertheless placed in detention because there was not a hospital bed available for him. After successful advocacy, Jim was moved to a hospital where he received a comprehensive assessment and evaluation and was provided services through the voluntary services program to finally give him the help he needed.
Angel: When Angel was six years old her mother was incarcerated and she went to live with her grandmother. While living with her grandmother, Angel was sexually abused by the son of a neighbor who babysat for Angel after school. At eleven years old, Angel was reunited with her mother and they moved into an apartment in an area known for crime, poverty, and few community resources. As Angel grew into a teenager, her mother did not have the skills or resources to handle her daughter’s increasingly troubled behavior and did not know where to turn for help. A teacher told her to refer Angel to the Court. Angel was referred to the Superior Court for Juvenile Matters when she was fifteen for Falsely Reporting an Incident: calling 911 from school. One month later, her mother filed a Family With Service Needs – Runaway. Angel was eventually placed on probation, spent time in detention, and was committed to DCF for placement.
Current Services For Children Committed To DCF
Residential and Community Services
The Bureau is committed to gender-responsive services and treats boys and girls differently, based on their needs. The Bureau currently has a continuum of services for children committed delinquent or FWSN, and there are plans for expansion in the next fiscal year.
On the residential side for boys, there is one secure facility, the Connecticut Juvenile Training School (CJTS), which is slated to close in 2008. There is one secure facility for girls and other staff secure facilities for boys and girls as well as group homes and other community residential options.
On the community side, there are Outreach, Tracking and Reunification (OTR) programs, which assist boys and girls when they leave a residential placement. There are also clinical services, primarily Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST), which is an intensive in-home psychiatric service. There are other community-based services at a variety of levels in different communities, which range from other clinical services, mentoring, rehabilitation, vocational, educational, social skill development and reintegration across the State.
Connecticut Juvenile Training School (CJTS)
CJTS is the state’s only secure treatment facility for boys ages 12-17 who are committed delinquent. It is also probably the single most discussed entity in the entire juvenile justice system in Connecticut. Although many people have visited the facility, others may only have received information via the media or reports. We hope to give you a virtual visit and hope you will stop back in the future to see what changes have been made.
The average age of boys admitted in 2005 was 15 years, 10 months. Age range was 13 to 17 years. The facility is currently operating with seven (7) units open with a total bed capacity in those units of 122. Building 2 remains closed, Unit 6D is used as the alternate school. The average length of stay for boys discharged from CJTS in 2005 was 4.9 months. Of the 218 admissions in 2005, 37% were admitted directly from court, 31% from residential placement, 18% from home, 8% from AWOL status (either from a pass from CJTS or from residential placement), 6% from an adult correctional facility, and <1% from a hospital. A risk assessment tool was implemented in 2005 that identifies boys risk level at intake and used to guide placement decisions. A needs assessment tool that identifies that factors that contribute to delinquency was piloted and is slated for full implementation by 7/06.
Description and Requirements
CJTS is a secure facility for boys committed as juvenile delinquents to DCF and placed on parole status. CJTS’ mission is to prepare boys for successful community reentry through education, treatment, and rehabilitative services. CJTS residents receive a full range of clinical services based upon their individualized risk, need, strengths and mental health assessments and treatment plans including: individual, family and group therapy. Evidenced based therapeutic groups offered are Aggression Replacement Training (ART), Seven Challenges Substance Abuse Treatment Program and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Other specialty groups are also offered. Milieu programming and behavior management is based on principles of Positive Peer Culture (PPC) and facility point level system.
CJTS Clinical Service Department accepts graduate students pursuing MSW degree and Ph.D./Psy.D in Clinical Psychology
Interns must be in good standing in their graduate program.
General Activities for Clinical Placements
Interns receive training in clinical areas of assessment, diagnosis and treatment planning, individual, family and group therapy. Interns gain experience in working in a secure setting with juveniles and gain an understanding of theory related to juvenile delinquency and risk of recidivism. Interns may also participate in administrative activities related to program develop and measuring outcomes.
Non Clinical Requirements
General Activities for Non Clinical Placements
Refer to General Volunteer Activities
- Fingerprinting (state and local)
Internships generally run from Sept to May
Other Things to Know
Visit the DCF website and look up Juvenile Services
Other Things to Know
Programming at CJTS includes the following:
- Clinical: Clinical services include individual therapy, family therapy, a family support group, Seven Challenges (a substance abuse treatment program), Aggression Replacement Training and various time-limited psycho-educational groups.
- Rehabilitation: Programs provided by the Rehabilitation Department include intramural sports, art therapy, music therapy, off grounds trips such as a fishing trip and attendance at sporting events, a media production group, and recreational and life skills programming offered in collaboration with the Boys and Girls Club.
- Residential: Programs offered by residential staff includes athletic events, passive leisure time activities and Positive Peer Culture (PPC), an evidence-based program utilized in adolescent residential facilities throughout the world. The PPC program, developed by Dr. Larry Brendtro and Harry Vorath, seeks to establish a therapeutic milieu based on the notion that young people have the ability to work together to solve their problems.
- Education: The Walter G. Cady School offers a full range of academic courses, literacy programs, and a variety of vocational programs, including culinary arts, building trades, horticulture, graphic arts, advanced computer application, electronics and commercial cleaning.
- Project Choice Mentoring Program: Residents are paired up with mentors from both the staff and CJTS and the community.
- Family Nights: The facility sponsored family nights where family members joined staff and residents on grounds for an evening meal and programs. The highlight of this program was a Holiday event in December that was attended by 206 family members.
- Department of Labor and Trades Union Apprenticeship Program – Collaboration with Connecticut Department of Labor and the trade union apprenticeship programs allowed eligible CJTS residents visiting local apprenticeship programs and worked to place residents in these programs at discharge.
- Boys and Girls Club – Saturday programming was provided to all residents for three (3) months by area Boys and Girls Club staff. This is being expanded to 20 hours of on-site programming weekly beginning February 2006 and a pilot re-entry project that will provide intensive case management to 15 residents pre and post discharge.
Joint Juvenile Justice Strategic Planning
DCF shares responsibility for serving children in the juvenile justice system with our partners from the Judicial Branch, Court Support Services Division (CSSD), who fund and operate detention centers, probation services and community-based residential, clinical and other services. To attain consistency in the overall system, DCF and CSSD have joined together in developing protocol, memoranda of understanding, conferences and training, court settlements and have recently embarked on a joint strategic planning initiative, with the assistance of the Child Welfare League of America. The process has yielded important data as well as more integrated understanding and planning for the future.
Strength of Families
In order to create a truly responsive and effective system, the contributions, influence, and power of families must be acknowledged and incorporated into the vision for the future. To strengthen families, their skills, and their resources, is to strengthen the children themselves. Throughout the process of developing this strategic plan, emphasis was put on providing opportunities for families to share their experiences, thoughts, and solutions. Parents were invited to Stakeholder Meetings to offer feedback on the progress and direction of the plan. Parent representatives sat on the Executive Committee, which guided the development of the plan. Listening sessions were held throughout the state to ensure that the ideals of the plan reflected what family members want out of this system. Woven throughout the plan are recommendations informed by, and in some cases, crafted by parents themselves.
The plan directs the agencies to continue to invite family representatives to sit as members of teams designed to assess, develop and evaluate programs, policies, and practices that affect children and youth. Families are made partners in identifying the resources in their communities that should be supported and expanded. Strategies are designed to involve families in every step of planning for their child’s services and treatment; acknowledging that families are truly the experts on their own children. Furthermore, strategies designed to serve the entire family are categorized as among the highest and most immediate priorities to be addressed. These strategies, designed to involve and engage families, are the second building block in making the vision of Connecticut’s juvenile justice system a reality.
The juvenile justice community is diverse and extensive. It consists of a vibrant, thoughtful collection of parents, relatives, caregivers, workers, administrators, legislators, advocates, attorneys, judges, and, of course, children and youth. The Bureau has been engaged in listening sessions all over the State and these were the voices represented and heard. From the passionate words of parents spoken directly to their public officials, to the dedicated network of stakeholders developing principles to guide the future of the system, the juvenile justice community is coming together to ensure that Connecticut’s juvenile justice system will work toward building children and youth for the future.
In the listening sessions held across Connecticut, community members outlined several areas needing to be addressed by the strategic plan. Participants passionately emphasized the importance of the role of the educational system in preventing involvement in the juvenile justice system. There was a strong plea for more community supports such as mentoring, after school programs, and vocational training. Participants emphasized the need for better evaluation procedures at all points within the system, ensuring that children with mental health, educational, and substance abuse issues are identified and offered the appropriate supports.
The joint juvenile justice strategic plan has focused on the following areas:
- Coordination, Collaboration and Information Sharing – In order to effectively achieve the mission and vision of the juvenile justice system the agencies that comprise the system must work together cooperatively, seamlessly, and with knowledge and respect for each others unique mandates, goals, resources, and limitations. All too often, the systems charged with serving children and families and protecting communities work in isolation from each other, duplicating efforts, letting children fall through the gaps, and failing to make the most appropriate and informed decisions. Several strategies support making information sharing easier, within the bounds of the law, and making interagency procedures more effective.
- Data Analysis – Several of the most pressing problems in the juvenile justice system relate to certain populations that are not served adequately or as specifically as necessary. In order to design the most appropriate and effective services for all children and youth, agencies must better understand the scope of and trends in various populations. Strategies that improve the methods of gathering, analyzing, and reporting data will ensure that resources are deployed where they are needed most. Furthermore, the effectiveness of programs can be better assessed when relevant data is easily complied and expertly analyzed.
- Resource Development – The planning process revealed that Connecticut is a “resource rich” state; however, there are significant gaps in services. Gaps exist not only in the types of services available, but there are disparities in access to services based on geography. Waitlists for services present a formidable challenge for many families. Several of the most effective evidence-based programs, such as multidimensional family therapy and functional family therapy, are not available statewide and where available have waitlists that span weeks or months. Strategies in this plan seek to improve program development and capacity building by providing mechanisms for local and state-wide groups to confer on funding priorities and the implementation of innovative programming. Additionally, strategies address the breaking down of barriers that families encounter in accessing the services that do exist.
- Workforce Development and Training – Both families and stakeholders involved in the development of the plan emphasized the importance of having a workforce that reflects the population it serves, and is competent to address the intricacies of cultural and gender related issues because race, culture and gender matter in service delivery. The planning process revealed that training, long considered of great importance in system reform, is insufficient in many essential areas including information sharing, court procedures, cultural competence, gender responsive services, the impact of trauma, and family engagement. The strategies in this plan seek to create a structure for developing effective training programs and recruitment efforts to provide clients with more informed and sensitive staff.
The contribution made by the juvenile justice community through the process of identifying these key themes is another important building block for success on the path to an improved juvenile justice system. Furthermore, the strategies developed under these thematic categories create a roadmap for making the system itself an effective partner to the children, youth, families and communities who are personally invested in these struggles.
Changing the System
The juvenile justice system in Connecticut strives to fulfill the intent of the legislature in order to improve the lives of children, youth, families and community members. In some ways the system works; in some ways the system needs work. Connecticut is not alone in its desire to improve the way it serves its clients and its community. Nationally, the conversation about juvenile justice has included a candid admission that a new way of doing business within government systems must be developed in order to meet the needs of troubled children, youth and families. Traditional programs and practices do not provide solutions to current problems such as the overrepresentation of children of color, the increasing involvement of girls in the juvenile justice system, the over-reliance on detention, the lack of adequate mental health services and educational supports to keep children out of the juvenile justice system, and the need for disparate systems concurrently serving children and families to integrate and coordinate their efforts. These are all emerging themes in the field of juvenile justice as a whole, and as indicated in the above sections, they are the concerns that drive the work of Connecticut’s Joint Juvenile Justice Strategic Plan.
Looking Towards The Future
The Department of Children and Families (DCF) worked with the Judicial Branch, the Department of Public Works, the Department of Correction, the State Department of Education and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to develop a reform plan for the agency’s services for children committed delinquent. The goal and title of this effort is “Helping Children and Families Close to Home.” The plan reflects the principles voiced by the community, such as shifting resources to community and family supports, with an emphasis on treatment occurring in the least restrictive setting consistent with public safety. On August 1, 2005, Governor Rell announced the closing of Connecticut Juvenile Training School and four months later, DCF developed consensus with key stakeholders and released a document, “Voice, Choice and Hope”, which recommends the services (community, continuum of care, educational, residential) needed after the closing the Connecticut Juvenile Training School by 2008. Again, the themes of improving treatment planning and investing in the community guided this effort at reform.
These system change efforts are occurring in the midst of several other important developments such as the Emily J. Settlement Agreement which has created new community supports, services and the beginnings of wraparound approach to services for children in the juvenile justice system, and the publication of several Connecticut-specific reports on issues such as the needs of girls in the juvenile justice system and disproportionate minority contact. Many of these efforts are incorporated in the plan; and in tandem with the plan, they provide the vehicle for creating true systemic reform, which is the final building block toward an improved juvenile justice system.
Key areas Juvenile Services is developing for the future include:
- Continued partnership building
- More services closer to home
- Smaller residential facilities
- More collaboration with the courts
- Enhanced integrated approach to serving children, adolescents and their families
- Improved System of Care using Wraparound approach
- Reintegration efforts from the moment a child enters a residential facility