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Changing the landscape of the juvenile justice system

More than 125 key community stakeholders met on Tuesday, Oct. 1, for the Johnson County Juvenile Cross-System Collaboration Summit. The event included the outcomes of collaborative work by more than 50 organizations across six different systems that intersect with juveniles and their caregivers: healthcare, community, school, child welfare, juvenile court and juvenile justice.

Action teams composed of representatives from these systems have worked on long-term projects for the past year to change the landscape of the juvenile system locally, regionally and across the state.

One of the highlights of the summit was the emphasis on data-sharing and interagency collaboration. Johnson County Department of Health and Environment (DHE) Epidemiologist Elizabeth Holzschuh presented on a partnership between her department and the Shawnee Mission School District (SMSD). The two organizations collaborated around data, allowing them to assess community-level trauma factors for each school in the district’s geographic boundaries.

The data that were analyzed fell into three categories: economic, safety and community trauma. The project is in the preliminary stages, but it has already allowed SMSD to identify some communities that have a significantly higher rate of traumatizing events than other areas of the district and consider what resources can be allocated in response.

“Public health problems don’t require public health solutions. Criminal justice problems don’t require criminal justice solutions,” explained Holzschuh. “They require all of us to come around the table to come up with solutions together.”

Other findings presented today included interagency partnerships between school districts, law enforcement, mental health, faith organizations, healthcare, childcare facilities and public health.

“The more organizations that partner on data sharing, the better,” said Deputy County Manager Maury Thompson. “The more data we’re able to share between schools, health care, mental health, criminal justice and other community partners, the more effectively we’ll be able to predict risk, find gaps in service and make data-informed decisions on solutions to better serve our community.”

The Summit attendees provided follow-up steps from the findings and commitment for future work on behalf of juveniles and their caregivers. The core leadership team of the Johnson County Juvenile Cross-System Collaboration will review those recommendations and determine the next steps for the Collaboration in the coming days.

The Johnson County Juvenile Cross-System Collaboration was convened by Johnson County Mental Health Center, funded by Reach Healthcare Foundation and facilitated by Team Tech. Kansas State Senator Dinah Sykes, Kansas State Representatives Megan Lynn, Nancy Lusk and Jarrod Ousley, as well as Johnson County Community College Trustee Nancy Ingram were in attendance. Ingram also serves on the Johnson County Mental Health Center Advisory Board.

 

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