Families Working Group

Why is there a need for a Families Working Group?

In order to improve outcomes for youth involved in the juvenile justice system the family voice must be included consistently across the system. Too often we overlook this perspective, whether it is provided by biological parents, foster parents, or guardians, and miss an opportunity to fully support a youth on his/her path to success.

What is the focus of the Families Working Group?

The Families Working Group identified four focus areas that should be addressed in order to empower youth and families involved in the juvenile justice system. These focus areas represent current barriers for families to effectively engage with the system as it exists today.

To Empower

To empower and effectively engage families the families working group seeks to:

  1. Increase trust, respect, and understanding between families and system professionals
  2. Help families understand the system and develop processes for engagement
  3. Improve coordination between all of the system professionals and community providers that provide services to families
  4. Provide access to appropriate services to youth and families

To work towards

As we work towards these goals we:

  1. Recognize that poverty and structural inequity are at the heart of issues facing many families. Our working group cannot solve these issues, but we also cannot ignore them.
  2. Are committed to involving families in our discussions; our working group includes members that have direct experience with the system and our working group members are encouraged to have discussions with families.
  3. Are energized by the involvement of the Youth Council – the “OYS Council” – in this effort and will look to that group to generate ideas for action as well as test the ideas we develop.
  4. Have identified some initial strategies that may address the challenges presented by our focus areas, which include creating a Youth and Family Bill of Rights, developing an orientation process, offering and expanding family support groups, and reimagining the family team meeting. We continue to assess several ideas as we prioritize our plan.

Who are the participants in the Families Working Group?

Barbara Robinson

Dan Jackson

Andrea Wright

Desiree Acosta

Eve Bleyhl

James Hubbard

Davannis Donaldson

* Working group co-chair

Jeff Moran

*Judy Gutierrez 

Kimberly Barnes

Brenda Bell

*Margaret Vacek

Mark LeFlore

Mary Jo Thompson

Shawne Coonfare

Tom Hanks

Tony Hernandez

Michaela Jackson

Lt. Vivian Buckley

Bill Rolfe

Cindy McWhirter