Call to Order and Roll Call
The1st meeting of the Task Force on the Unified Juvenile Code was held on Wednesday, June 5, 2013, at 1:00 PM, in Room 171 of the Capitol Annex. Representative John Tilley, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Whitney Westerfield, Co-Chair; Representative John Tilley, Co-Chair; Hasan Davis, Glenda Edwards, Steven Gold, Teresa James, Lisa P. Jones, Bo Matthews, Mary C. Noble, Pamela Priddy, and John Sivley.
Guests: Wayne Young for the Kentucky Association of School Administrators (KASA); Ernie Lewis for the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (KACDL); Julie Raia for the CHNK; and Marty White for the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents.
LRC Staff: Ray Debolt, Jonathan Scott, Mike Clark, and Cindy Smith.
Review of the 2012 Task Force Report–Discussion on Scope of Review for the 2013 Interim
Representative Tilley said that a lot of work was put in by the Task Force during the last interim, but there was no finished product due to a late start by the Task Force. Time was used for study and reflection by the Task Force. Several things were accomplished, and those things are contained in the 2012 report of the Unified Juvenile Code Task Force. At the end of this interim, the Task Force will have legislation to move forward during the next Session.
Financial Mapping Update
Teresa James, Commissioner, Department for Community Based Services, Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and Michelle Kilgor and Kari Collins from the Department of Behavioral Health (DBH), Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), testified about Financial Planning and Financial Mapping, which is a process for identifying public funds expended during a particular timeframe addressing a certain population or issue. The completed map will lead to the development of a comprehensive financial plan to coordinate funds in the most efficient and effective ways. Commissioner James noted that the Kentucky Adolescent Treatment-Enhancement and Dissemination Grant (KAT-ED) was awarded to DBH in October, 2012. The key element of the grant is to create a cross-agency financial map of resources used to provide services to adolescents with substance abuse and co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders. Financial planning considerations include: identifying current spending and utilization patterns across agencies; realigning funding streams and structures; financing appropriate services and supports; financing to support family and youth partnerships; financing to improve cultural/linguistic competence and reduce disproportionate care; financing to improve the workforce and provider network; and financing for accountability. A contract has been secured with Dr. Mary Armstrong, an expert in financial mapping and planning. Initial planning calls have occurred and Dr. Armstrong has reviewed preliminary data from agencies within CHFS. The preliminary findings will be submitted in July, 2013, and the final written report with recommendation will be complete in August, 2013.
Justice Noble and Representative Tilley agreed that the process of financial mapping is very narrow at this point and the application needs to be broad.
Status Offense Date Update/Court Designated Worker Program
Rachel Bingham was introduced by Patrick Yewell as the new Executive Officer of the Department of Family and Juvenile Services at the Administrative Office of the Courts. Ms. Bingham testified about Kentucky’s Court Designated Worker (CDW) Program. The CDW program, established in 1986, has 157 workers and is on call 24/7 for all 120 Kentucky counties. The cabinet processed over 55,000 complaints and pre-complaints in 2012, encompassing both public and status offenses. The top status offenses reported were habitual truancy and beyond control. The CDW program calls the first contact with a potential status offender the pre-complaint phase. For CY12, 14,005 status pre-complaints were completed by CDWs, resulting in 7,549 status offense complaints were taken by the CDW. If eligible for diversion, the CDW works collaboratively with the juvenile to define the terms of the diversion. All diversion contracts consist of prevention, education, accountability and treatment, and do not exceed 6 months. For CY12, 3,851 status offense diversions were developed, 2,815 of which were successful. Unsuccessful diversions were court referred.
Workable solutions for the CDW program include: reviewing KRS 630.020 to address court jurisdiction if responsibility is transferred from the court to DCBS; replacing language such as judicial proceedings and formal court action with referral to DCBS; expanding KRS 630.010(2) to place requirements/accountability on the parents regarding status offenses; and developing a cooperative agreement with DCBS and the CDW program, which will provide a venue for the CDW to provide all relevant information on children being supervised or committed as a status offender to DCBS.
In response to a question by Senator Westerfield, Ms. Bingham responded that the primary cause of unsuccessful diversion is the lack of family involvement and other barriers. If it goes to court, all methods to be successful have been exhausted.
In response to a question by Ms. Priddy, Mr. Yewell said that only about 50 percent of the cases that are able to be diverted are actually diverted.
In response to a question by Ms. Edwards, Ms. Bingham said that some cases are not diverted because some County Attorneys prefer that school offenses go straight to court. She said that the diversion success rate is good at 86-87 percent.
In response to a question by Justice Noble, Ms. Bingham noted that the 41,000 total complaints include both status offenses and public offenses.
In response to a question by Senator Westerfield, Ms. Bingham said that the time limit for a diversion is 6 months and it cannot be extended. She did not have the information regarding the recidivism rate but will send it to him.
In response to a question by Mr. Sivley, Ms. Bingham said that referrals are made by school resource officers, DPP, and family members.
In response to a question by Mr. Gold, Ms. Bingham said there is a maximum of three diversions. During the third diversion, the CDW goes to the County Attorney to see what has been done to produce success. Mr. Gold noted that some children to through diversions, but then have an anti-social offense and are referred by to the CDW.
In response to a question by Senator Westerfield, Ms. Bingham said that the cap is 3 for diversions, and the standard for each diversion is different.
In response to a question by Senator Westerfield, Ms. Bingham said that some low level felonies can be diverted. Ms. Edwards noted that D felonies can be diverted when preliminary inquiry criteria is met.
In response to a question by Mr. Gold, Ms. Bingham said the Gain-SS is a screening tool through Chestnut Health Systems, which provides an over-all needs assessment. Ms. Bingham noted the agency has been working with DJJ and JDAI. Mr. Yewell added that the agency has been working on the tool for about ten years. A number of different pilot projects have been run as well.
Representative Tilley said that the Task Force will review assessments and previous reform efforts in the criminal justice system.
Justice Noble pointed out that some assessments have certain licensing and certification requirements on the person giving them. There will not be training or certification at the pay level of for CDWs.
Commissioner James said that the assessment piece is a pivotal piece. The Cabinet is working on an assessment tool right now for DCBS placement to line up the providers with evidence based practices. The assessment will be completed within five days of admission.
In response to a question by Commissioner James, Ms. Bingham said accessing treatment and counseling services would be very beneficial. Mentors and tutoring would be very effective to get children where they need to be in the classroom. Those pieces have been lost because of some of the fiscal impact.
Commissioner James noted that the government is not going to be able to pay for the needs that are so extensive. Community grass-roots engagement needs to be looked at. More needs to be done with non-traditional partners because there is not an open ended funding stream from the state. The things that need to be reviewed include community service delivery looks, how to utilize federal, state, and local dollars, opportunities to enhance the delivery of services.
Children in Need of Services
Claire Shubik-Richards of M&R Strategic Services provided information on status offenses. M&R has been hired to staff a project to accelerate juvenile justice reform throughout the country. The company is in the third year of a five year project. In the last three years, it has helped 23 states pass juvenile justice reform on a range of issues. Status offenders are not a public safety issue. Kids in this position may someday pose a public safety issue, but in the beginning they are just kids in need of services. When kids are in the delinquency system, that distinction is often blurred. The purpose of a status offender system is to help adolescents and their families who are often riding out a crisis. Two main situations looked at include: an immediate family crisis that is often a parent referral; or an issue that has been building, and actions that have been tried are not getting anywhere.
The thing that unifies all issues and brings them to the attention of the status offender system is that they are frustrating. In other states, she has seen that if a youth with certain issues comes from a community of means, then the youth does not go to the status offender system because there is the ability to obtain private counseling and private support. When there is no ability to access private counseling and private support, the status offender system becomes involved. Many times there is a higher percentage of girls in the status offender system versus the delinquency system, which has to do with the type of behavior that is not tolerated in girls but is more often tolerated in boys. It can also be because of issues relating to sexual trauma. Connecticut, Florida, New York, and Louisiana--have taken strides in providing support to help status offenders.
In response to a question by Mr. Sivley, Ms. Shubick-Richards said there are many issues and behaviors of status offenders. The most troubling is the runaway. On the high end of the system, with intensive service needs, some states have respite beds for runaways and will provide temporary foster care placement, and may have high end family treatment and mediation. There is only a few children who will benefit from that high end of treatment.
Justice Noble said that part of the focus on status is that it is a local problem. It is difficult to make rules for the approach to status that is statewide, because so much of what is needed is community based. The school is the first point of contact for almost all services, but schools are not equipped to be social workers. The other point of contact is local mental health services.
Ms. Shubick-Richards commented that in many jurisdictions there is a unified state system. There have been four crisis intervention hubs throughout the state and those have been contracted out to local providers to provide services targeted in different areas of the state. Where there are not unified systems, statute has been written to allow for counties to develop their own systems and their own approaches.
In response to a question by Senator Westerfield, Ms. Shubick-Richards said that Kentucky could compare to Connecticut because Connecticut had a large number of status offenders (just ask Kentucky today) when it began reform efforts in 2007. There were heavy users and few services for status offenders. Connecticut had projected, by 2011, to end the use of detention for status offenders who have violated court orders. Connecticut planned a more extensive diversion system between 2007 and 2011.
Commissioner Davis said the challenge with the valid court order, in particular, is there is that Kentucky is a wide state. Access to detention centers from certain areas is a long drive. Many people are not exhausting all options available. There is a model in Henderson County where a staff person is placed in the schools to get all referrals, even for low level public offenses, so they can receive services. There are some incredible things going on with civil citations in Florida. There are many things the Task Force may access to allow members discuss change.
Justice Noble noted that school resource officers need to be discussed because they are very important. Mr. Gold said research indicates that school resource officers are beneficial when they are buddy cops, not when the school is having a defiance problem.
The next meeting date will be July 3, 2013 at 1:00 p.m.
The meeting adjourned at 3:20 p.m.