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TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal today announced another transformative step in New Jersey’s juvenile justice system through the creation of a Community-Based Services Consortium that will bring a wide array of prosocial programs to youth in secure care settings and residential community homes operated by the Juvenile Justice Commission (“JJC”). The skills, habits, and knowledge that young people develop through these activities will foster self-esteem and resilience while also strengthening ties to their communities.
The JJC manages a continuum of care that includes three secure facilities and 10 residential community homes that provide programming, support, and opportunities designed to help youth grow and thrive, and return home as independent and productive members of their communities.
Last year, the JJC announced its intent to develop a consortium of community-based service providers to engage youth in a variety of activities that support personal growth and development. A competitive funding opportunity resulted in the selection of 17 providers with a focus on those in locations where JJC youth will reside when they return home. The providers all have strong ties to their communities and have made significant investments to support and transform individuals and families. This focus has ensured that the service providers themselves are representative of the youth of color who comprise the majority of the JJC’s youth. Providers with specific understanding of female youth are also an important part of the consortium, with many services being provided by women of color.
As a result of the public health crisis, the JJC emphasized the importance of providers offering services virtually and transitioning to in-person service delivery when appropriate. The providers include individuals, businesses, and non-profit organizations that offer educational, engaging, and unique programmatic opportunities for youth.
In early 2021, consortium members will begin providing services in the following categories:
- art and design;
- sports and physical recreation;
- language arts;
- drama and theater; and
- self-care and wellness.
“Bringing more community-based services to the young people in our state’s residential care facilities will not only help prepare them for success when they return home, but will also reduce recidivism,” said Attorney General Grewal. “With today’s announcement detailing the new and innovative community-based programs available to them, our Juvenile Justice Commission continues to build on the transformational work it is doing to improve the lives of justice-involved youth in our state and reduce the number of young people in its care.”
“The JJC’s Community-Based Services Consortium will enhance the programming and supports currently provided by the JJC through its existing educational and rehabilitative service continuum,” said Jennifer LeBaron, Ph.D., Acting Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice Commission. “Through the wide array of prosocial programs that consortium members will deliver, young people will be afforded the opportunity to expand their horizons and to develop critical connections to community members that strengthen the supports available to them upon returning home. Opportunity and support are key to achieving positive outcomes among youth involved in the juvenile justice system.”
A “point person” has been identified at each JJC residential and secure program to coordinate service delivery, and to foster supportive relationships between youth and the providers from their home communities. These established relationships with community members will allow for additional support for youth as they return to their communities from the JJC’s care. A full list of the consortium members and the services can be found below.
The transformation of New Jersey’s juvenile justice system has earned the JJC national acclaim and made New Jersey a model state for youth justice reform, which began with the launch of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (“JDAI”) in 2004.
Recognizing that detention reform is an entryway to overall system reform, JDAI is designed to make the entire juvenile justice system smarter, fairer, more efficient, and more effective. The reduction in population affords the opportunity to improve the youth justice system as a whole and improve the conditions of confinement for youth who require out of home placement.
JDAI is premised on the philosophy that all youth involved in the juvenile justice system should have opportunities to develop into healthy, productive adults as a result of policies, practices, and programs that maximize their chances for personal growth, protect their legal rights, reduce their likelihood of unnecessary or inappropriate incarceration, and minimize the risks they pose to their communities. The JJC’s Community-based Services Consortium facilitates and promotes this philosophy.
Community-Based Services Consortium Members and Services
- EEJM, Columbus
EEJM services incorporates fitness, music, hobbies, and mentoring programs to develop the whole learner, guide self-awareness and reflection, and encourage a balance between physical and mental expression. Themed projects promote interest in and a healthy and balanced approach to personal discovery.
- From the Block to the Boardroom, Trenton
From the Block to the Boardroom helps participants turn their hobbies and passion projects into business opportunities by providing basic business concepts and skills. Workshops include a variety of hands-on activities, interactive projects, and real-time experiences led by successful business owners, with motivational presentations from individuals who have been formerly incarcerated acting as role models and inspirational leaders. Graduates receive access to online courses and networking groups for additional support once they return home.
- Girls Like You, Inc., Sicklerville
Girls Like You, Inc. provides youth mentoring and coaching services that focus on confidence building, educational and life skills support, and advocacy using interactive courses that address social/emotional learning, teen parenting, healthy relationships, and conflict resolution. These skills help participants develop coping skills particularly directed to family circumstances involving incarceration, death, and addiction.
- Harambe Social Services, Sicklerville
Harambe Social Services, Inc. offers programs specifically designed to engage the Black and African American communities and youth in issues surrounding domestic and dating violence. Harambe means “pulling together in unity” in Swahili and promotes the understanding that ending domestic violence is the responsibility of the entire community. Harambe’s approach is rooted in the principles of Nguzo Saba, typically used during Kwanzaa, allowing participants to connect to the positive historical values strongly rooted in African cultural tradition. Harambe programs are designed to engage a broad range of audiences, age groups, and organizations in the issues of domestic violence, teen dating violence, and sexual assault. Its healthy relationship course, Aspire, is designed for young people of all genders and sexual expressions, between the ages of 13-19 years old to build healthy non-violent relationships.
- Hunterdon Youth Services, Flemington
Hunterdon Youth Services offers various unique opportunities that broaden horizons and learning experiences for youth including the following programs: sewing and fashion design which teaches the characteristics of fabrics, provides an introduction to sewing and assists with the creation of a personalized product; dress for success which focuses on industry style varieties, personal style and grooming, and culminates with mock interviews; culinary training and wellness which utilizes basic kitchen equipment to prepare healthy meals with a focus on safety, nutrition, purchasing, employment, etiquette and sanitary practices; creative writing and poetry which encompasses discussion and analysis of existing works, techniques and styles, and self-examination through writing; and theatre production which explores existing works, theatrical terminology, techniques, and equipment, and provides coaching on acting techniques and stage direction, concluding with the creation of original works and live performances.
- James R. Halsey (JRH) Foundation of the Arts, Trenton
The JRH Foundation program uses creativity and imagination to explore character development, acting, and performance as young people are challenged to express their thoughts and feelings in short stories and monologues that tell their individual stories. Participants also have the opportunity to perform in front of the camera with individual instruction to overcome inhibitions and bring their characters to life.
- Jersey Shore Wellness, Oceanport
The Warrior Boxing Program provides positive support, mentorship, boxing skills, and athletic development with the goal of empowering youth to be healthy, productive, and positive members of their communities while building healthy relationships. Boxing is a powerful tool that brings the mind and body together to work simultaneously to cope with anxiety, depression, ADHD, and trauma. As a mindfulness activity, boxing allows an individual to focus on the present, and directs thoughts away from the future or the past, helping participants to develop impulse control, focus, stress relief, mood enhancement, improved body image, self- esteem, coordination, balance, and strength.
- Kismet of Kings, Jersey City
With an overarching theme of resilience, the Kismet of Kings uses music, trivia, and relevant works of nonfiction, including Lewis Spears’, You Are the Answer to the Problem: From the Hood to Harvard and Back Again to communicate the importance of selfless service to others and paying it forward. The program also uses guided meditation, and analysis and discussion of select songs by relevant and influential artists to help participants overcome personal challenges and struggles. Workshops culminate with the creation of safety/coping plans, personal pieces of artistic expression including raps/songs/vision boards, or written materials.
- New Step’s Counseling, South Plainfield
New Step’s Counseling organizes “Mental-Hop” symposiums that bring mental health and wellness education to youth people through the lens of Hip-Hop culture. They encourage engagement, enlightenment, education, and empowerment in an emotionally safe and supportive space. The activities promote active listening, respect for others, and empowerment, as well as healing and positive development. Symposiums may focus on anxiety, depression, trauma, healing, purpose, optimism, and mindfulness.
- Rising Leaders Global, Inc., Camden
Rising Leaders Global (RLG) seeks to foster intellectual curiosity and responsibility for those living in an increasingly interconnected, multicultural, and dynamic world by advancing empowerment, leadership, health education, and civic participation among underserved youth. RGL provides mentoring services that focus on intellectual, physical, and character development within a safe, nurturing, and diverse environment. Mentors are matched with youths’ unique individual skills, abilities, and goals. The program also exposes youth to service-learning opportunities that teach empathy and the importance of paying it forward.
- Say it with Clay, Collingswood
Working with the medium of clay fosters a level of relaxation not normally gained through other art forms. Through hands-on clay workshops, this process-oriented art form allows participants to experience the beginning, middle, and end of a creative process that culminates with a finished glazed clay creation and the ensuing sense of pride. Skilled art-therapists and staff provide various therapeutic services that allow participants to intentionally experience the process of expression, creativity, and healing from this art form.
- Sheltered Yoga, Bordentown
Sheltered Yoga offers unique, evidence-based, trauma-informed, social-emotional learning classes through a specialized multidisciplinary curriculum of yoga, mindfulness, meditation, and journaling. Sheltered Yoga strives to develop increased confidence, self-worth, self-esteem, self-love, and a decrease in anxiety and depression.
- Timbuk2 Academy, Ewing
Hey Girl! Blossoming into Joy supports girls to reach their highest potential by establishing fun, safe spaces for girls to celebrate their individuality and to embrace their beauty. The program’s 365/Bloom model focuses on the successful transformation of girls involved in the juvenile justice system, and those exhibiting destructive behaviors or at risk of school failure. The program combines mentoring and meaningful experiences to provide girls with the tools to develop holistic well-being skills through a developmentally and culturally responsive curriculum. Young women examine topics such as love, childhood experiences, self-identification, health, accountability, and alternative coping mechanisms, as well as social, emotional, and spiritual development.
- Unity Community Center of Southern Jersey Inc. (UCC), Camden
Unity Community Center of Southern Jersey, Inc. (UCC) offers various programs designed to develop self- defense skills, self-confidence, self-discipline, self-control, self-awareness, self-worth, and leadership. Programs include: Universal Pasha Karate School, Universal African Dance & Drum Ensemble, UPK Pasha Generals Drill Team, Praise Dance Ministry, Cloud Nine creative dance, music ensembles, which include the UCC Royal Brass Band and Little Jazz Giants, and an entrepreneur program. These programs are designed to improve mental concentration, balance and coordination, and cardiovascular health and to reduce stress and tension as skilled instructors help young people express themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually through body, mind, and spirit.
- Universe Konadu, Newark
Universe Konadu is dedicated to empowering girls and women by providing mentorship, self-care tools, character/social skills development, independent living skills, and access to post-secondary education opportunities, internships, and business ownership. Specifically, the SEEDS! Peer-to-Peer program is designed to empower those who have experienced trauma to take responsibility and shape their futures. Personalized small group mentoring sessions focus on education planning, financial literacy, goalsetting, leadership, decision-making, critical thinking, problem-solving, effective communication, stress and anger management, interpersonal relationship skills, empathy/compassion for others, and social justice.
- Urban League of Union County, Elizabeth
The Urban League of Union County offers various workshops, seminars, and classroom sessions designed to provide young people with meaningful opportunities to promote personal growth and development and to expand their life skills. Programs include those that focus on self-discipline and control, moral reasoning, anger management, decision-making and consequences, time management, money management, and school, career, and life planning.
- Women Who Never Give Up (WWNGU), Camden
WWNGU provides services to justice-involved individuals and their families that focus on education, career development, mental health, life skills, and community re-entry. The program implements a full spectrum of services to facilitate life-affirming transitions through practical information, life skill tools, and counseling. WWNGU promotes self-awareness, independence, and the strengthening of families to increase personally successful and positive holistic outcomes.
The JJC was established in 1995 to serve as the single agency of State government with centralized authority for planning, policy development, and provision of services in the juvenile justice system. The JJC is committed to implementing and promoting policies and practices that improve outcomes for young people involved with the juvenile justice system, their families, and their communities.
The JJC’s three primary responsibilities are providing care, custody, and rehabilitative services to youth committed to the agency by the courts, supervising and coordinating services for youth released from custody on parole, and supporting local efforts to provide prevention and early intervention services to at-risk and court-involved youth.