Recent Work & Activities
The Community Healthcare Initiative
The unmet health needs among justice-involved youth are tremendous, including high levels of trauma, abuse, and mental and physical illness resulting from a lack of preventive care. This is exacerbated by the lack of healthcare available in their communities, and barriers youth face accessing care.
Recognizing that more must be done to connect these under-served young people with essential health services, in 2014 with support from the Prince Charitable Trusts, Health & Medicine launched a multi-phase project to help eliminate barriers to care. Targeting the five communities to which youth released from the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center are most often returning (corresponding to the 60620, 60623, 60628, 60644, 60624 zip codes), the goal of our project is to utilize our strong relationships with juvenile justice staff, health care providers, and community-based organizations to develop and disseminate resources and tools that will foster a truly inter-connected network of health care providers capable of meeting the health needs of these vulnerable youth, particularly youth of color and LGBTQ youth.
Since launching this project, we have made great progress. We have interviewed over 100 providers, assessing and collecting data on the range of services they offer, any barriers to service, and whether they utilize “trauma-informed” and LGBTQ-competent models of care. We have developed this information into an app for youth, justice staff, and the community. We have also worked to foster referral connections in our target communities and offered trainings to community-based providers to improve care.
Promoting Change within the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice: Training Staff on SOGI and Relevant Policies
The Court-Involved Youth Project is committed to creating a system-wide framework across all points in the Illinois juvenile justice system to support the safe, competent, and effective custody and treatment of youth regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression (SOGI). Working with the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ), our staff has conducted training a five Illinois Youth Centers (IYCs) specific to the needs of a range of staff positions, from administrators to medical, mental health, juvenile justice (corrections officers), and school personnel in order to help these staffers promote the safe treatment and support of LGBTQ youth. In 2016, training was completed at both Warrenville and Harrisburg ICYs, and training was initiated in Chicago, reaching 380 IDJJ staff. Our trainings included a significant amount of empathy building as well as an overview of sexual orientation and gender identity language, an overview of identity development, and a review and explanation of laws, policies, and procedures (customized to each facility).