Youth & Family Programs
The Juvenile and Family Court provides a variety of programs and interventions that are evidence based and designed to address certain criminogenic needs of the youth we serve. These programs include:
Coordination of Services
Coordination of Services/The Connect Program is an immersive weekend class for a youth and their connected adult, typically a parent. The youth and parent attend this 12 hour weekend class together, where they are offered community resources, attend workshops from local professionals in their fields, and get fed lunch and snacks. This is a fast paced class, with each presentation lasting about an hour long each. Topics in past programs have included Drugs and Alcohol, Brain development, Cooking, Challenge course activities, Social media, Theater, etc. The 2 major goals of the program are to:
- Strengthen a youth's connection to their community
- Strengthen a youth's connection to their family
Washington State Aggression Replacement Training (WSART)
History of WSART
The Washington State Legislature has been funding Evidence-Based Programs in the entire state since 1999. Along with establishing programs that are researched for juvenile justice involved youth, a risk and needs assessment was implemented. Assessing the risks factors and protective factors for a youth AND matching those to a researched program, has helped in reducing the rate at which youth come into the Juvenile Justice system statewide. The Washington State Institute for Public Policy researched the effectiveness in reducing juvenile crime in 2004. This research showed a 33% reduction in felony crime. This means for every $1 a taxpayer puts into Juvenile Justice, they save $11 since the implementation of providing researched based programs to Juvenile Justice involved youth.
Jefferson County has provided more than 50 groups of Washington State Aggression Replacement Training (WSART). We have 3 certified trainers, one of those is a Master Trainer, and one a WSART Consultant for the state. We pride ourselves on not having a waiting list and providing the group as often as our youth need it. We take great care in making sure we reduce all the barriers a youth/family may have when participating in WSART group. We respond to the unique needs of each family, providing transportation through our South County Shuttle, providing gas cards and bus passes. We have a team of staff who provide healthy substantial snacks and daily raffle prizes to motivate youth. Our Trainers have been leading groups for 15 plus years.
WSART has a strict model that research has shown when strictly adhered to, the more effective it is in preventing new offenses. Jefferson County participates in the state Quality Assurance guidelines. The group is a 10-week, 30-hour intervention for a group of 8 to 10 youth 3 times per week. This means we run a closed group of 8 to 10 youth (the kids enter together and complete together) 3 days a week. We usually run the group Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday's of each week for 10-weeks. The group is 1 hour and 15 minutes. We know this is a big commitment for the youth and family, so we strive to be engaging, reward based, and include the family in the learning process.
The 3 components taught are Social Skills Training, Anger Control Training, and Moral Reasoning. These components are taught in a specific clear way with steps and practicing by each youth. The group involves repetitive learning and lots of practice in the group and at home. The 3 components include:
Social Skills Training
Skill streaming is a procedures designed to enhance pro-social skills. It is effective for youth struggling to find alternatives to aggression. It also is effective for youth that have difficulty communicating their wants and needs in a productive way. Shy or isolated youth also benefit from social skills training. 10 social skills are taught once a week. Examples of typical social skills taught are: Making a Complaint, Avoiding Trouble with Others, Understanding the Feelings of Others, Deciding What Caused a Problem, Dealing with a Difficult Conversation and Keeping out of Fights. The skill is taught, demonstrated, and practiced by all youth in the group. They are then asked to practice it at home, school, or community and fill out a practice sheet evaluating how they did.
Anger Control Training
This is the second component of WSART. Anger Control is designed to help youth have self control and emotional regulation. It also helps enhance or develop consequential thinking. It has 7 concepts that build on each other each week. The youth learn a new concept, review the previous concepts, are shown how they all work together, ending with each youth practicing. Anger Control consist of the following concepts linked together to make the Anger Control Chain:
- Body Signs
- Self Evaluation
- Social Skill
- Thinking Ahead
- Triggers (external and internal)
The third component in WSART is Moral Reasoning. This intervention targets how the youth think and allow for decisions that have negative outcomes. This component them to take perspectives and challenge their thinking. It counters impulsivity and provides the youth to slow down and critically think about the presenting situation. Problem stories are used to uncover Thinking Traps. These are four cognitive distortions commonly used when antisocial decisions are being made. The 4 Thinking Errors are Minimizing/Mislabeling, Blaming Others, Self-Centered Thinking, and Assuming the Worst.