Summit County Juvenile Court's Crossroads Program will receive the Outstanding Program Award at the Ohio State Bar Foundation's Annual Awards Dinner on Oct. 7 at the Embassy Suites Columbus-Dublin.
In 2003, Judge Linda Tucci Teodosio identified a significant number of youth being referred to the drug court who had a co-occurring mental health disorder. Addressing the drug issues alone without also treating the underlying mental health condition was often ineffective. Thus, the Summit County Crossroads program was created as one of the first of its kind nationally.
The young offender, supported with family involvement, works intensively with a probation officer to develop individual goals. As the youth and family progress through four phases of treatment and supervision to address these goals, they are supported by community-based alcohol, drug and mental health provider agencies.
"Our program is a true community effort as we provide wrap-around services so the youth's real needs can be met," says Katy VanHorn, administrative director. "Kids often self-medicate with drugs and drink because they are overwhelmed with mental needs that have not been treated adequately. They then act out, often become aggressive and destructive, and end up being one of the 54,000 juveniles locked up nightly in this country."
Replacing negative behaviors with healthy coping skills is not an overnight process. The program typically takes a year for a participant to complete. When the youth meets the goals and remains substance-free, the delinquency charges are eventually dismissed and expunged.
VanHorn adds, "Even a juvenile who doesn't complete the program has been known to call back to say, 'I totally get it now... maybe a bit late ... but I get it.' Our goal is to turn lives around. We just don't always know when."
The OSBF's Outstanding Program Award is bestowed annually on a program that generates improvements in the Ohio justice system.
The Ohio State Bar Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity that works to advance the law and build a better justice system. Through our grants and programs, we educate and perform outreach to the public to make the law fair for all Ohioans. For more information about the Ohio State Bar Foundation, visit www.osbf.net.