By TESA CULLI
MT. VERNON — As cuts in funding may have reduced the money for programs that help at-risk youth, what didn’t get reduced are the number of youth that need intervention and the programs.
The 16th Annual Kids, Courts and Schools Conference will target ways to prevent juvenile delinquency and ways to help troubled teens become responsible adults. The conference will be held Oct. 1 at Rend Lake Resort & Conference Center at the Wayne Fitzgerald Park in Whittington.
“This year we brought in the 1st and 4th Judicial circuits, instead of just the 2nd Judicial Circuit,” Working Group member Mindy Koch said. “We wanted to expand the area where we are touching with the conference and have more opportunities to learn from them and they can learn from us about what works with our youth.”
Another change to the conference this year is there will be no keynote speaker.
“By eliminating the keynote speaker, we could have four more breakout sessions,” Koch explained. “We also create time for a collaboration meeting.”
Koch said one thing on everyone’s mind, which may be discussed in the collaboration meeting is program funding.
“There is a move for even more community-based alternatives because of funding problems,” Koch said. “Funding is a big issue right now and how to get the programs to those who need it with fewer dollars.”
According to information on the conference, judges and school administrators from the 29 counties in the 1st, 2nd and 4th Judicial Circuits have been invited to attend and other participants will include state’s attorneys, public defenders, prevention and treatment specialists, child welfare workers, foster parents and others. Discussions will include current issues and how to prevent youth problems and deal with problems once they occur.
“This annual conference has helped open the lines of communications between professionals in the classroom and those working in our courtrooms,” Bryan Cross, regional superintendent of schools for Hamilton and Jefferson counties stated. “We’ll get advice from experts and exchange information about ways our communities are responding to youth problems.”
Those attending the conference will be able to participate in their choice of breakout sessions “to learn about programs with real results.” Breakout sessions are:
Parents in Juvenile Justice, by Darline Johnson, of Family Voices Building Strong Communities in Carlyle. Johns is a “recycled parent” who has raised two children and then in 1994 adopted two of her grandchildren. She is raising her 2-year-old granddaughter while his mother attends college. She has been a parent leadership trainer for 13 years.
A Tapestry of Understanding and Managing Anger, by Joyce A. Griffin. She will explain how anger operates and ways to re-route and manage escalation. She will detail personal triggers, how to identify stages of anger, how to implement a plan and use an anger log. Griffin is the community liaison/community educator for CedarPointe Hospital in St. Charles, Mo., and is a native of Southern Illinois.
How and Why to Partner with SADD Chapters or Other Youth Groups in Your Community, by Robyn Block. Block is the Illinois SADD State Coordinator, and is a certified senior alcohol and drug prevention specialists with 13 years experience in the field.
How to Form a Juvenile Justice Council, by the Judge Gene Schwarm, chief judge of the 4th Judicial Circuit; John Hudspeth, Banee’ Ulrici and Cheryl Meyers. The establishment and organization of a juvenile justice council will be discussed as well as its purposes, activities and duties and responsibilities.
Forty Developmental Assets, by John Shadowens, the manager of Prevention Services in Marion. He will speak of The Search Institute findings that have identified 40 positive experiences and qualities that all of us have the power to bring into the lives of children and youth. Surveys of more than 2 million students reveal that the assets are powerful, predictive influences of behavior and character, especially on issues of drug and alcohol use, violence and teen sexuality.
Autism Spectrum Disorders and the Law, by Leigh Grannan, clinical instructor at the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders in Carbondale. The presentation will introduce the characteristics of autism disorders and the red flags for identifying those with autism disorders.
Internet Safety, by Det. Sgt. Brent Maguire of the Fairfield Police Department. The session will discuss the popularity of social networking sites, the pros and cons of networking sites, chat rooms and instant messaging and how to become involved in a child’s online experience, how to monitor a child’s online behavior and how to take steps to protect a child online.
Juvenile Justice Success Stories, by Janice Alka and Linda Brown. The session is a panel discussion with Monica Urban, Cassandra Goldman, Darla Fitzjerrels and Marie Goff, with those in the 2nd Judicial Circuit sharing stories of getting started and successes. There will be a question and answer session included.
Seven Reasons to Leave the Party, by Judges Mark Shaner and Christy Solverson. The award-winning presentation was developed by Judge Mark Drummond of Quincy before the Illinois Judges Association expanded the program statewide. The interactive Power Point presentation takes junior high and high school students through various rooms of a typical illegal teen party, and, using real life stories, tells the consequences of illegal drinking, drinking and driving, taking drugs and having sex.
Juvenile Domestic Violence: Establishing a Baseline for New Approaches, by Hunter Hurst. The session will describe an approach to starting discussions about how to intervene more effectively with youth charged with domestic violence offenses.
Media: Techniques and Strategies, by Jim Bray, a communications consultant for Models for Change. He will provide tips and suggestions on how to best communicate to and through the news media and field questions about how to answer questions from reporters.
Youth Courts: Holding Offenders Accountable, by Cheryl Meyers, Banee Ulrici and Priss Parmenter. Youth Courts divert minor offenders from overloaded juvenile courts and hold them responsible for their actions. The workshop will present a panel discussion on active youth court programs, the benefits and how to develop, implement and sustain a youth court.
The conference is sponsored by the judges of the 1st, 2nd and 4th Judicial Circuits; the Juvenile Justice councils of the 2nd and 4th Judicial Circuits; the Jefferson County Drug Free Communities Mission Possible Coalition; the Cra-Wa-La VIP 2nd Judicial Circuit Methamphetamine Prevention Program; the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services; and Models for Change: Systems Reform in Juvenile Justice.
The registration fee of $45 includes breakfast, lunch, handouts, and door prizes. Special rates are available for students, interns, and foster parents. Forms and brochures with registration forms may be accessed at illinoissecondcircuit.info or by calling Koch at 244-8036.
By TESA CULLI
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