Juvenile Community Programs expands reentry services for juveniles with opening of Forsyth Transitional Home

Monday, July 6, 2020 - 10:55am

Raise the Age – which increased the age of juvenile jurisdiction to include 16 and 17-year-old children – is bringing an older population in need of services to the Juvenile Justice section of the N.C. Department of Public Safety. The section’s Juvenile Community Programs unit has answered this call for services recently with the opening of a new transitional home in Winston-Salem.

Juvenile Justice has contracted with the Methodist Home for Children to operate the residential program at the Forsyth Transitional Home, which even amid the coronavirus pandemic opened its doors to young men in mid-May. The MHC transitional living home teams worked closely with Juvenile Justice Court Services and clinical programming staff to identify juveniles in need of this service. The Forsyth home joins transitional homes already in operation in Craven County (males), and in Wake County (females).

Juvenile Justice’s Transitional Living Home programs serve young people ages 16-20 who need step-down services following exit from a youth development center (YDC) or other residential programming, or who otherwise need transitional or reentry services. Enrollment in school and/or employment is required as part of the transitional living home model. Juveniles most appropriate for transitional living homes willingly accept and understand that their home environments are not conducive to supporting their success and are internally motivated to achieve their goals, including educational and vocational interests.

Expansion of Juvenile Justice’s transitional living programming to meet the capacity needs of the older population now being served has been backed by the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee, established in 2017 as part of the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act and responsible for planning for the changes involved in the implementation of "Raise the Age" in North Carolina. Transitional living homes can either serve as an alternative to commitment to a YDC for some juveniles or provide reentry services to juveniles following their YDC commitment or involvement in other residential programming. Since this service can also decrease the need for YDC beds, and costs much less than commitment to a YDC, it will also save money.

The opportunities to pursue further education, vocational training and employment come with life in a transitional living home. The young adults also learn life skills such as how to develop a budget, pay bills, prepare meals and interview for jobs. “Older juveniles have very different needs than the younger population, including the need to develop the basic life skills to prepare for adult life when they transition from their time with us,” said William Lassiter, deputy secretary for Juvenile Justice. “Transitional housing solutions offer a smaller, more personalized home setting to help these children accomplish those goals and prepare them for their future.”

According to Cindy Porterfield, director of Juvenile Community Programs, “the Transitional Home Model helps close gaps in re-entry services and provides an opportunity for young people to start their adult lives in a positive direction.”

 

 

Author: 
Diana Kees, Deputy Communications Director