Mental Health/Juvenile Justice Family Engagement ProjectFunded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
The Mental Health/Juvenile Justice Network Family Engagement Project, funded by the MacArthur Foundation, seeks to educate and empower family members to be effective advocates for youths in the juvenile justice system throughout Illinois.
The Family Engagement Project team met with youths and their families to learn what they need to know or wish they had known in order to better navigate the juvenile justice and mental health systems. Stakeholders and providers also were key resources in identifying gaps and providing information to benefit families and youths.
This project takes into account the unique needs and development of adolescents and teenagers in juvenile justice, a system that is rooted in rehabilitation. Studies have shown that 70% of youths in juvenile justice systems have diagnosable mental health disorders, and 25% have severe psychiatric illnesses that impair their ability to function. In addition, 60 percent have histories of substance abuse, and a substantial number have suffered trauma.
The outcome of this project is the creation of easy-to-use guides to inform parents and youths about legal rights, court processes, family resources, mental health services and community and peer networks. The youth guide is presented in an accessible, engaging graphic novel design. The parent guide contains more detailed information in a sturdy tabbed format that families can use as a long-term resource. Both publications will be distributed through trusted networks. Input from youths, families and stakeholders throughout the state guided the content, tone and format of these publications.
The goal of this MacArthur Foundation project is to create and distribute effective educational materials in Illinois, and to document a process that can be replicated and adapted to other states, in order to benefit the largest possible number of youth and families.
“The Juvenile Justice System: A Guide for Families in Illinois,” (available in English and Spanish) informs parents about legal rights, the court process, how to prevent arrest, and how to find mental health and support services. These publications are for educational purposes only. Click on the cover to print your copies.
“Know Your Rights,” A Guide for Youths in the Juvenile Justice System is now available in English and Spanish. These publications are for educational purposes only. Click on the cover to print your copies.