An Integrated Whole Family Approach to Working with Crossover and At Risk Youth | City of Ideas

Posted 01/21/2013 by Collaborate Boston Application

Issue to be Addressed:
Evidence shows problematic behavior is determined by interplay of individual, family, peer, school and neighborhood factors. *The majority of Black (86%) and Latino (84%) families with children in Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan are headed by single women in poverty and poor housing with low educational attainment. Their children are at increased risk for public safety issues, educational problems, poor mental health, and limited occupational outcomes (high unemployment, employment in low-level service jobs). They are more likely to become homeless; compose 75% of child welfare reporting, investigations, substantiation, and placement; and 92% of DYS detention.

Research documents the relationship between childhood abuse, neglect and delinquent behavior. 55% of overall DYS population received services from DCF prior to commitment. Maltreatment history also increases likelihood of committing a violent offense by 96%.  Boston Police data for 2012 indicate 64% of domestic violence arrestees were under age 17 and concentrated in Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan. Nearly 75% of DYS committed populations were adjudicated delinquent and placed on probation at least once prior to commitment to DYS.

Despite these factors, Black and Latino youth are resilient with potential to succeed. With appropriate diversion and intervention their circumstance is neither inevitable nor deterministic.

Project Proposed:
TARGET: Black and Latino boys from Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan ages 9 to 15: *With multiple risk factors who are exhibiting delinquent behavior; *In child welfare and in detention but not committed; *Their younger siblings at risk of crossing over into juvenile justice.

GOALS: Create an integrated Network of youth, families, community-based agencies, behavioral health, child welfare, juvenile justice, courts, and education --that breaks down silos, builds capacity and infrastructure at the community-based level to deliver prevention and intervention, using a male-influenced, whole-family approach that prevents crossover between systems and reduces recidivism.


*Strengthen the NETWORK (develop governance, logic model, strategic planning, recruit additional stakeholders - youth, families, courts, education) to support improved identification, coordination, prevention, diversion.

*Build the Network and through that process identify and pilot a practice model that integrates and coordinates systems, family and youth services, case management, school-based strategies, training for professionals.

*Conduct Study and Analysis --Data collection and sharing, Process and Outcome Evaluation, Performance Measurement, Assessments, Mapping, Policy Analysis --to influence policy, inventory resources, more precisely identify target population, and share best practices.

Role of Collaboration:
Collaboration will build an integrated network of systems and services that result in a replicable practice model. We understand that meeting the needs of the targeted population and especially crossover youth requires a multi-system collaboration such as we have established, “The Network.”  The replicable model will include the best practices of our seven partner organizations as related to child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health, public health, and education.  Partner best practices incorporate alternatives to incarceration and build family capacity by engaging youth and families in pro-social activities; e.g., *Peer-to-peer education. *Parent/guardian education. *Gender-specific groups that utilize men as influencers of boys. *Male-influenced public education campaigns.

The Network will achieve lasting change by developing capacity of neighborhood residents and institutions to define and design responses to local needs on a sustained basis. Members have all been providing community-based services in the target neighborhoods for 20 years or more. Members of the Network have worked together on other initiatives impacting Black and Brown boys and continue to pursue opportunities to positively impact outcomes. During proposal development, the partners on the grant held face-to-face meetings, conference calls and email exchanges to develop the need, goals and objectives of this submission. Also, preliminary discussions were held with the courts and Boston Public Schools who expressed full support and interest in working with the Network.

The Network will function using a committee structure. Brookview will serve as lead agency and manage the project. The Network and its subcommittees meet monthly during the Planning phase to finalize the structure, develop roles and guidelines and will continue monthly meetings during implementation. Communications will be both formal and informal to include at a minimum minutes, group emails, and conference calls.

-BROOKVIEW HOUSE – Established in 1990, Brookview youth programs annually serve 250 homeless and at risk teens and adolescents. As a Network member, Brookview will utilize our existing model to provide case management, family services, school-based programs, behavioral health, court and juvenile justice advocacy, academic enrichment, civic engagement, job readiness, mentoring, life skills workshops, gender-specific groups. Brookview is a founding member of the Transition to Work Collaborative, Child Resource Collaborative, Dorchester Women’s Safety Network, and the Network to Address Teen Domestic and Sexual Violence. Brookview organizes an annual conference that convenes policymakers, advocates, practitioners, and families to share best practices.

-MA DEPT. OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES (DCF) is the state agency with responsibility of protecting children from abuse and neglect.  Boston Area Offices will participate in this collaboration by identifying families involved in child welfare and juvenile justice.  The Boston Regional office developed protocol for referring crossover youth who are shared DCF/DYS cases. DCF social workers will participate in family team meetings and service coordination for all family members receiving services from DCF.  Specifically, Black and Latino males with male sibling 9 years+ will receive intensive case management and opportunity to participate in psycho-education/recreational activities.

-ROBERT F. KENNEDY CHILDREN’S ACTION CORPS (RFK) is a state-wide licensed child welfare agency that provides juvenile justice, education and clinical services. RFK has 43 years experience working with youth and families, and is particularly acquainted with cross over youth. RFK proposes to utilize its national evidence-based Detention Diversion Advocacy Program’s (DDAP) model of intensive case management to engage this population. This program has successfully operated since 2005. Through DDAP we will divert male youth of color between the ages of 9 and 15 from juvenile detention.  Additionally, we will work with the families of these youths and their siblings.

-ROXBURY YOUTHWORKS INC’S (RYI) celebrated it’s 30th anniversary (one of the oldest minority run non-profit organizations in Boston). RYI’s mission is to help youth caught in cycles of poverty, victimization, and violence to transition successfully into adulthood. We have worked with black and brown boys since 1981. All of the youth that RYI serves have experienced trauma.  This includes physical and sexual abuse, neglect, sexual exploitation, victims or witnesses of family and/or neighborhood violence. As a Network member, RYI will provide community support services to young men and women committed to the Dept. of Youth Services.

-MA DEPT. OF YOUTH SERVICES (DYS) is the juvenile justice agency of the Commonwealth of MA. The mission is to protect the public and prevent crime by promoting positive change in the lives of youth committed to our custody. We accomplish this through interventions that build knowledge, develop skills and change the behavior of the youth in our care. As a Network member, DYS proposes to participate on committees to develop, strengthen and expand services for boys in the target neighborhoods. DYS will share best practices from the project with their networks and other departments within the MA Executive branch.

-FAMILY NURTURING CENTER - Since 1998, the FNC was incorporated as a non-profit and has been based in Dorchester, though today the FNC provides services in several Boston neighborhoods. As a member of the Network, FNC will participate with members to establish best practice models; will also share its evidenced-based nurturing model of serving the whole family; and Involve FNC’s fatherhood program in the formulation of a comprehensive prevention, and intervention strategy. This model includes services such as: 12-15 week interactive parent support education programs that involve the whole family, Fatherhood and Teen programming;

-CASA MYRNA (CM), founded in 1977, is a Boston-based, multicultural organization dedicated to ending domestic violence.  Since 2008, Casa Myrna has run biannual ad campaigns in English and Spanish on mass transit statewide. The goal is to raise awareness about domestic and dating violence and publicize the statewide toll-free hotline, SafeLink. The first campaign, titled “Everyday Heroes” was geared to men. Campaigns to raise awareness about teen dating violence include bus shelters near Boston Public Schools, billboards, and a video now on the agency’s website.  As a Network member, CM will develop male-informed, bilingual public education campaigns.

This prize would infuse cash and technical assistance necessary during economic times when the demand for services has escalated and providers are asked ‘to serve more with less’. Too often the debate breaks down over costs. But what we know is there will be steep costs to our society and our systems if we do nothing but continue business as usual.

This group seeks to reverse Black and Latino boys’ trajectory into the justice system by developing a practice model that helps high-risk youth and their families build on their strengths and succeed in our society.


-Builds infrastructure by creating a broad-based Network consisting of youth, families, men, child welfare, juvenile justice, community-based agencies. 

-Builds community capacity by developing leadership, governance and management structure with a unified vision and strategies that serve youth long after the project is complete.

-Fills gaps in services to siblings and families of incarcerated youth by connecting and coordinating resources across prevention and diversion.

-Creates culture and systemic change, impacts policy and practices through information & resource sharing, interagency collaboration, training and awareness.

-Implements replicable prevention initiatives that incorporate strengths-based, culturally appropriate family and community engagement with wraparound services and connections to community resources.

Other information:
In the complex world of juvenile justice, there is not always a clear distinction between young people in child welfare and those in juvenile justice. The term ‘crossover youth’ reflects the growing understanding of the dynamic between abuse, neglect and delinquency. Youth are involved with multiple systems that may work in isolation to assess personal and public safety risks and address their complex challenges. Crossover youth are perceived as higher risk; often voices of caregivers are absent or marginalized; thus they receive harsher sentences. Detention creates life-altering obstacles, disrupts connections to families and communities, and generally leads to recidivism.

An integrated approach that builds on each system’s unique strength has been proven to be effective. Evidence suggests family and parenting interventions have beneficial effects on reducing time spent in institutions. To achieve positive outcomes, child welfare, juvenile justice, and other systems must collaborate to develop community-based best practices, coordinate case management and ensure effective data collection.   

-Multi-system collaboration and integration with practice and systemic solutions
-Broad stakeholder group that includes systems, families and community-based partners
-Strengths-based approach with meaningful inclusion of youth and families
-Focus on populations not getting services- younger siblings of youth in the system

Primary Contact:
Deborah Hughes, M.Ed. is the Executive Director at Brookview House, Inc. Ms. Hughes has worked with Brookview since its formative stages, beginning as a consultant on program development, financial management, and fundraising. During her tenure, Brookview has expanded into a multi-service agency providing youth development programs, family services, and supportive housing.

Established in 1990, Brookview’s mission is to help homeless and at risk families learn the skills necessary to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty. With sites in Roxbury and Dorchester, we help families learn life skills and address challenges through direct services, behavioral health, and advocacy. Brookview provides prevention, intervention, treatment and response services to more than 350 parents, children and youth per year with over 80% leaving the ranks of homelessness permanently.

Youth programs are the agency’s largest-- serving more than 250 annually. Our success is evident by the percentage of children who improve grades, exhibit better behavior and stay in school. A six-year study reveals 87% of youth program participants graduated high school.

Youth services occur year-round –in school, daily after school and a full day in the summer. Licensed by the Commonwealth, they help school-age children (6 to 19 years old) recover from trauma and do well in school. Academic improvement, Life skills development, and Behavioral Health programs with individual, group and family counseling by licensed clinicians and graduate-level counseling psychology interns is the focus.

Partner 1:
Valerie Lovelace-Graham, Boston Regional Director for DCF. For the past twenty years Valerie has worked extensively in the field of child welfare. She directed a federally funded domestic violence program in an inner city court clinic setting.  The program model, a multi-disciplinary approach to responding, intervening and providing treatment to families involved in domestic violence reflected a strong collaboration between law enforcement, medical providers, mental health practitioners and the criminal justice system.

Partner 2:
John Hughes, Metro Area Regional Director – MA Dept. of Youth Services. John Hughes has led the Department of Youth Services Metro Region since 2006 spearheading the development and implementation of many department initiatives including the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative, workforce development, and a reorganization of the community-based service continuum.  John has been with the Department for twenty-seven years and has worked his way from front line staff to Metro Regional Director.

Partner 3:
David Strong, Director of Juvenile Justice Services, RFK Children’s Action Corps. Dave Strong has over 35 years experience in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.  He worked for the Commonwealth for 14 years then became a Regional Director for North American Family Institute, overseeing juvenile justice and child welfare programs in RI, MA, and CT. Dave is an adjunct professor at Cambridge College, where he assisted in developing the college's juvenile justice certificate program.

Partner 4:
Mia Alvarado, LiCSW, Executive Director, Roxbury Youthworks. Prior to her current position, Mia was a Special Assistant to the current DCF Commissioner’s Office. Mia is one of the founding members of the Support to End Exploitation Now (SEEN) coalition. Mia was selected to represent the child welfare field as a member of the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) Community Intervention Project funded by OJJDP in 2007.

Partner 5:
Sue Parker, Master of Arts in Family Therapy. Director of Nurturing Program Training & Development.  Her role at the Family Nurturing Center is to recruit, develop and train teams of DCF staff to deliver the Nurturing Program to families in local area DCF offices. As a nationally recognized trainer/consultant in the Nurturing Program®, a support and education program for families, and a member of the National Training Board, Ms. Parker conducts a yearly Training of Trainers.

Partner 6:
Deborah Collins-Gousby is Co-Executive Director of Casa Myrna with 20 years experience working with domestic violence programs. She has direct oversight of all of the agency’s residential programs, manages a staff of 18, and provides trainings on DV and working with survivors.

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  • # Dalawrhussain's gravatar Dalawrhussain said:
    6/16/2017 4:16 PM

    I think that is very important to not stay quiet when we reziale all the injustices in the world, there are so many things that need to get out to the light, and nothing is better to expose that than with art. This projects are important and i hope that with all this pressure the situation will get better.