SACRAMENTO, Calif., Jan. 29, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Center for Health Program Management, and funding partners Sierra Health Foundation, The California Endowment and The California Wellness Foundation announced that $1.6 million in grant funding has been awarded to four counties to implement an innovative approach to juvenile justice reform known as the Positive Youth Justice Initiative.
Alameda County Probation Department, San Diego County Probation Department, San Joaquin County Probation Department and Vallejo City Unified School District in Solano County were each awarded $400,000 for a two-year period to test a series of reforms designed to transform juvenile justice into a more just, effective system and drastically improve the lives of the youth they engage across California. To date, $4.5 million has been invested in the Positive Youth Justice Initiative.
"The Positive Youth Justice Initiative was developed to ensure children in the juvenile justice system receive the support, guidance and structure they need to move beyond the trauma and neglect most experience prior to being engaged by the justice system," said Chet P. Hewitt, president and CEO of Sierra Health Foundation and the Center for Health Program Management. "We are thrilled to be partnering with a group of innovative county leaders committed to leading the charge for juvenile justice reform in California. Their willingness to focus on the healthy development of system-engaged youth will enhance their individual prospects for a healthy, productive life while improving public safety for us all."
Sierra Health Foundation, through the Center for Health Program Management, began the Positive Youth Justice Initiative in 2012 to transform juvenile justice in California by treating the root issues affecting youth in the system. Based on Sierra Health Foundation's experience and compelling new child and youth development research, the initiative was developed as a comprehensive, data-driven approach that combines proven practice models and targets the highest-risk youth. By focusing on the population of crossover youth (youth who have a history in the child welfare system, have experienced trauma and are now engaged in the juvenile justice system), successful interventions will have a broader impact on all youth across both systems.
Children in the juvenile justice system often face a number of unique challenges that remain unaddressed. Research has shown that 75% to 93% of youth entering the system have experienced traumatic victimization, but there is little support for them that addresses exposure to trauma and violence. After reaching adulthood, the majority of these children lack education, are disconnected from family and social networks, face poverty and, without any sufficient support, too often migrate into the adult criminal justice system.
"For too long, juvenile justice has not addressed the root causes of why our children get stuck in these systems and has done little to break the cycle," said Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, keynote speaker at Tuesday's launch event and co-chair of California's new Select Committee on Justice Reinvestment. "Now is the time for transformational change in our juvenile justice systems. Rather than wasting millions of public dollars on broken and inefficient practices, we must change course to invest in and cultivate the enormous untapped potential of these resilient, creative, and adaptive young people."
The Positive Youth Justice Initiative provides funding and technical support to counties to integrate and implement the initiative's approach made up of four elements:
- Investment in Youth: To ensure that youth can make a healthy transition to adulthood, PYJI counties are investing in youth health, social and educational development, including providing them with mentorship and career development opportunities.
- Treatment of Trauma: The initiative also supports the training of key county staff to identify and treat the root causes that have led a young person astray, including childhood exposure to violence, neglect and abuse.
- Systems Changes: With technical support from national experts, counties are changing local juvenile justice policies and practices, to help sustain long-term improvements.
- Wraparound Services: Grantees are forming unprecedented partnerships among the many agencies and people who touch the lives of juvenile justice-involved youth, such as probation, child welfare and other public departments, local nonprofits and school districts, which help provide young people and their families with individualized and comprehensive care.
The Positive Youth Justice Initiative aims to not only drastically improve the lives of the state's most vulnerable youth, but to improve public safety, create pathways to opportunity, and reverse the tremendous social and economic costs of the current juvenile justice systems' failures. The Positive Youth Justice Initiative and its partners of county agencies, nonprofits and community leaders are leading the way for the transformation of juvenile justice throughout all of California and across the country.
The Positive Youth Justice Initiative is funded by three California health foundations: Sierra Health Foundation, The California Endowment and The California Wellness Foundation. The program is managed by the Center for Health Program Management. More information can be found at www.shfcenter.org/pyji.
About Sierra Health Foundation
Sierra Health Foundation is a private philanthropy investing in and serving as a catalyst for ideas, partnerships and programs that improve health and quality of life in Northern California and beyond through convening, educating and strategic grantmaking. For more information about Sierra Health Foundation and its programs, visit www.sierrahealth.org.
About the Center for Health Program Management
The Center for Health Program Management works to reduce health disparities in underserved communities. With commitment, creativity and collaboration, we promote efforts to eradicate health inequities across the state. Please visit www.shfcenter.org
Contact: Brian Fitzgerald
Phone: (916) 922-4755 x3332
SOURCE The Center for Health Program Management