Call to Order and Roll Call
The3rd meeting of the Task Force on the Unified Juvenile Code was held on Thursday, August 22, 2013, at 10:00 AM, in Room 154 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Whitney Westerfield, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Whitney Westerfield, Co-Chair; Representative John Tilley, Co-Chair; Harry L. Berry, Hasan Davis, Glenda Edwards, Steven Gold, Lisa P. Jones, Bo Matthews, Pamela Priddy, and John Sivley.
Guests: Laurie Dudgeon, Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts; Marty White, KASS; Wayne Young, KASA.
Approval of Minutes
A motion by Mr. Gold and seconded by Commissioner Davis was approved by voice vote to adopt the minutes of the July 3, 2013 meeting.
Community Services and Programs
Michelle Sanborn, President of Children’s Alliance, and Elizabeth Croney, President of KVC Behavioral Health Care KY, presented on Children’s Alliance and its operations throughout Kentucky. Children’s Alliance is a non-profit association of 35 children and family service agencies throughout Kentucky who serve abused, neglected, dependent, and status offender youth and their families in every county. It is funded by a variety of entities depending on the service. For example, the Department for Community-Based Services (DCBS) funds residential and therapeutic foster care, while Medicaid funds Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers.
Children’s Alliance is particularly proud of its In-Home Services, which focus on family preservation and preventing children from leaving their communities. These services include intensive Family Preservation, Family Reunification Services, Families and Children Together Safely, and Diversion Services. Ms. Sanborn and Ms. Croney spoke on the diversion services, which were developed in 2005 through funding from DCBS for teenagers with behavioral problems. This community-based model involves a holistic approach towards addressing issues within the family and individual. Current Diversion Services providers are KVC Behavioral Health Care Kentucky, Specialized Alternatives for Youth, Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky, Boys and Girls Haven, and Uspiritus.
Diversion Services involves these multiple institutions to allow for a comprehensive, multi-dimensional evaluation and approach, including services such as therapeutic child support, crisis intervention, 24/7 on-call therapists, and psychological and psychiatric testing. Successes within the Diversion Services include family assessments completed within 96 hours, assessment-driven intervention plans completed within 30 days, family accountability, increase in school attendance, monthly progress reports for DCBS, and post-discharge reports at 3, 6, and 12 months. Ultimately, the speakers attributed the success of the Diversion Services to its flexibility, lower operating costs, and family involvement.
Responding to a question from Mr. Matthews, Ms. Croney said that school involvement in Children’s Alliance as helpful and collaborative. The schools are willing to help with educational testing and encouraging greater student participation and attendance.
Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky (CHNK) representatives Rick Wurth, CEO, and Julie Raia, Director of Quality Improvement testified about CHNK’s approach to child services and their need for additional financial support. CHNK was developed in 2012 as a 2-year pilot program with the goal of “in school and off the street, with families and not behind bars.” Mr. Wurth spoke of how secure detention does not work and increases recidivism, risks rehabilitation, and increases criminal behavior while also negatively impacting a child’s development, academic achievement, and work performance. Instead, community and evidence-based services allow for greater communication and collaboration among services and individuals involved.
Ms. Raia discussed how CHNK was developed. The variety of stakeholders, which included the General Assembly, Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), Department of Juvenile Justice, DCBS, schools, and private providers, each brought goals and objectives to CHNK. For example, the state legislature wanted to reduce secure detention for non-violent offenders, schools hoped to reduce truancy and court referrals, and AOC looked towards emphasizing diversion rather than court action. Together these organizations worked together to develop collective desired outcomes embodied by CHNK. Mr. Wurth stated that, for CHNK to be successful, it needed to follow five critical success factors: accessibility, flexibility in its approach and interventions, family involvement in intervention and education, case management cooperation with service partners, and commitment to a collaborative approach. The Champions Program of CHNK was born from this research, cooperation, and goals.
Ms. Raia testified that, in fiscal year 2012, CHNK achieved its outcomes. For example, 75 percent of truant youths improved attendance, 72 percent of youth with multiple disciplinary referrals improved behaviors, 88 percent of families reported improvement, and 99 percent of those involved stated that they would recommend the Champions Program to others. Mr. Wurth also identified opportunities for improvement, including designing “phases” of services, serving youth with substance abuse issues, and incorporating additional data into evaluations. Ms. Raia then outlined CHNK’s requests of the task force: establish a state fund; change policies so that CHNK can access Medicaid directly; and acknowledge the need for collaborative financial investment.
Deputy Ken Kippenbrock, Kenton County Sheriff’s Office, and Superintendent Kathy Burkhardt of Erlanger-Elsmere Schools testified about the successes of the CHNK Champions Program.
Responding to a question from Senator Westerfield, Ms. Raia elaborated on the limits of the Child Behavior Checklist assessment. Because the assessment requires six month check-ups and because the Champions Program does not run that long, it is not the most effective assessment tool. Deputy Kippenbrock, in response to Dr. Sivley’s concerns about a lack of partnership with additional services, stated that CHNK has had difficulties partnering with other services due to family availabilities and issues.
Rob Jones, Executive Director of Community Action Kentucky, spoke about the organization, which is made up of 23 community agencies with offices in every county. He introduced Carrie Blackham, Director of Family Assistance Services with the Audubon Area Community Services, who discussed the AOC’s Teen Court program and its benefits. There are 25 Teen Courts in Kentucky, each run by volunteers and presided over by a judge. Teenagers serve as members of the court and determine sentences with judge approval. It is a low-cost program that serves the youth and communities and works well with status offenders. Ms. Blackham also talked of the need for a Kentucky program to adopt client-specific sentencing memorandums, which would require community service for an offense prior to a sentencing hearing. Jim Farlis of Pennyrile Allied Community Services also spoke on behalf of Family Preservation programs, which operate as community collaborations for children to prevent the risk of removal from their homes and families. Family Preservation helps families access community resources to address their needs and issues. Mr. Jones assured that these services attempt to reach every community, including rural areas.
Kelly Conley, Grayson Program Director for NECCO, discussed the organization, which has been operating for 17 years as a private childcare provider. NECCO has nine regional offices in Kentucky and serves 1300 children through DCBS and Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) services. The organization provides individual county or program contracts for services such as drug testing, ankle monitoring, and community service supervision, and operates the Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky Parenting Program, which has two 12-week programs. Past programs have been lost due to funding costs, but they included the Family Preservation Program, intensive in-home services, Anger Management, Theft Prevention, and Substance Abuse Prevention. Ms. Conley compared the cost of secure detention ($210/day) to the cost of NECCO services (ranging from $78 to $22/day) and emphasized the need for the programs and their continued funding.
The PEW Charitable Trusts
The Co-Chairs briefly introduced the PEW presentation by discussing the task force’s new working relationship with PEW. To reduce total prison and juvenile detention populations throughout the state, the task force has partnered with PEW to research possible avenues of action. Sonja Hallum, Senior Associate of the Public Safety Performance Project with PEW, continued this overview by stating that the project works with states to advance data-driven, fiscally sound policies and practices in the criminal and juvenile justice systems and helps the states to identify critical solutions. The project has worked with 24 states, and the juvenile project began last year. The goals include protecting public safety, holding offenders accountable, and controlling corrections costs, although the means to achieve these differ by state. The process requires continuous stakeholder engagement and a three-step process of data analysis and system assessment, policy development, and consensus building.
Ms. Hallum stated that the Kentucky Juvenile Correction Project is in its infancy and is beginning the step of data analysis by processing many questions. Preliminary insights indicate that, like the majority of states, Kentucky’s youth out-of-home placement population post-adjudication has declined by 41 percent over the past ten years. However, over half of the DJJ budget goes towards out-of-home or facilities placement and youth with misdemeanors and violations make up most of those placed in these facilities.
Ohio, Texas, and Georgia were referenced as examples of juvenile justice reform efforts in the United States. The former two implemented fiscal incentive programs, while the latter developed a process towards justice reform efforts. Following a 40 percent increase in the state’s juvenile custody population and its juvenile institutions operating at 180 percent capacity, Ohio created the RECLAIM Ohio program in 2010. Incentives are given to the top six counties with the most juvenile offenders to reduce their numbers and increase the use of community-based alternatives. The state saw a reduction in recidivism, specifically in low to moderate-risk youth, as well as $50 million in averted annual costs.
In Texas, state facilities experienced a tripling of committed youth over eight years. In response, the state passed SB 103 in 2007 that would restrict commitment to the state for misdemeanor offenses, and in 2009, Texas created the Commitment Reduction Program to provide fiscal incentives to local probation departments. New funding for local programs were given to counties, totaling $84.5 million over three years, which led to a 27 percent decline in juvenile arrests and a 62 percent decline in total average daily facility population.
In 2011, Georgia created the Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform for Georgians, which attempted to address adult sentencing and corrections reforms. The Special Council found that there was an inconsistent use of risk- and needs-assessment tools, lack of community-based options, and a lack of uniform and consistent data collection. Policy recommendations included a focus on residential facilities on higher level offenders, a reduction in recidivism, an improvement in government performance, and greater oversight; these changes are expected to save about $85 million through 2018, with $17 million redirected into evidence-based community programs and specialty courts. Ms. Hallum concluded by repeating the task force’s goals for Kentucky: improving public safety by reducing recidivism, holding offenders accountable, and controlling costs.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:45 AM.