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Innovation Brief: Improving Behavorial Health and Community Support in Evening Reporting Centers

Published Dec 8, 2014, Illinois Models for Change Invitative

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In Cook County, Illinois, the juvenile court has implemented a strong continuum of alternatives to detention. Evening Reporting Centers, or ERCs, are a key component in this continuum. As an alternative to incarceration in the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, juveniles, awaiting trial or disposition of a warrant or who are charged with a probation violation, can be ordered by a judge to report to an ERC each evening, where staff provide structured programming, supervision, homework assistance, recreation, and meals.

Youth Outreach Services (YOS), a nonprofit organization serving at-risk youth and families, operates an ERC on Chicago’s West Side. With Models for Change support and technical assistance, and in collaboration with other juvenile justice stakeholders, YOS introduced a pilot project to assess the behavioral health needs of young people ordered to the ERC and to link youth and parents with appropriate community-based services. Along the way, YOS learned that effective screening was only the first step in meaningful engagement of youth and families. By fully capitalizing on opportunities created by an ERC, YOS achieved better outcomes for those youth in the program

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Models for Change is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, website operated by Justice Policy Institute.