The implementation of Blue Sky, our Juvenile Justice initiative, has ushered in a remarkable new era at The Foundling.
As we’ve been reporting over the past few years, we are having extraordinary success in maintaining youthful offenders at home, safely, and avoiding more costly and potentially detrimental incarceration. Blue Sky integrates three “evidence-based treatments” into a continuum of care that works to improve the way the youth, his family and the entire community interact. Our staff includes everyone in the treatment plan so that all can support the teen in modifying the behavior that put him or her at risk in the first place. Energized by our success with Blue Sky, The Foundling is now applying these therapies to our work with other groups in our care.
Evidence-based treatment (EBTs) are models that have been thoroughly studied, meticulously implemented and scientifically evaluated. When our social workers and clinicians employ evidence-based treatments in their practice, they must adhere strictly to the proven therapeutic model to ensure the best possible outcome for the youth and his family. EBT research has shown that when therapists do not practice strict adherence, they can negatively impact the welfare of the child and adversely affect the outcome of treatment. Our clinicians collaborate on an ongoing basis with the developers of the different therapies. Through in-person trainings, conference calls and viewing videotapes of every session with the youth and their families, the developers can provide immediate feedback on how well we are adhering to the model to ensure optimal results.
Too often, traditional therapy views the youth as “the problem”’; s/he bears sole responsibility for the risky behavior. Consequently, treatment usually occurs only between the therapist and the child. Evidence based treatment recognizes the child as the center of a complex universe involving the youth’s foster family, birth family, friends, school, community and others s/he may interact with regularly. Our therapists engage all members in supporting the youth. The Foundling staff — supervisors, skills coaches and resource specialists — work in concert with the therapists to ensure the family is equipped to reinforce their adolescent’s successful behaviors in a variety of settings once treatment ends. Evidence-based treatment is not just a new approach – it’s a new business model.
We’re well positioned for this work. Innovators for more than 142 years, we can implement the techniques used in Blue Sky across our diverse network of services for children of all ages and their families at critical points during a child’s development. We can work with the youthful offender to avoid incarceration as well as with the child who is at risk of entering the juvenile justice system. We can lessen the turmoil when we anticipate a child will be moving between foster homes or, ideally, before s/he needs to be placed in care.
The continuum of therapies that comprise Blue Sky has:
• Demonstrated considerable success in reducing future involvement of children and families in the juvenile justice system
• Greatly reduced the time a youth and family must be in care. Therapy is intense, focused and goal-specific. Families begin to see progress quickly, often within a few weeks, and are enthusiastic to continue.
The potential cost savings to the City and taxpayers is staggering and, more important, our impact on the teenager is potentially life-saving.
“The program is effective. Blue Sky was able to fix our problems
and get us going in the right direction.”
— Naomi, whose teen son successfully completed treatment
“The program turned my life around. Without their help,I don’t
know where I would be and who I would be today.”
— T.B., who finished treatment in 2008 and is now
attending Manhattan College