The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (FDJJ) recently announced that, in partnership Youth Opportunity Foundation (YOF), it had been awarded a three year, $1.5M, Second Chance Act grant from the Department of Justice to reduce recidivism for justice–involved youth impacted by traumatic brain injury (TBI). “The prevalence of traumatic brain injury among justice-involved youth is misunderstood, undiagnosed, and thus untreated”, said Denny Armington, YOF President. “We are hopeful that this study will confirm the suspected significant prevalence of TBI among these youth, demonstrate the results of proper brain injury–specific treatment for community re-entry and the reduction of recidivism, and thus provide positive, long term outcomes for the young adults and the communities in which they live”.
Under the supervision of FDJJ, and in concert with the University of South Florida and the Florida Department of Education’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (FLVR), YOF will subcontract with Youth Opportunity Investments (YOI), and prominent neuropsychology and neurorehabilitation experts to create a full range of services committed to youth with TBI. Managed by the YOF Advisory Council, the grant will enable the utilization of evidence–based TBI assessment and treatment modalities for youth during their stay in a residential treatment program, and for up to two years after transition to their communities. “Recidivism is a major issue for all juvenile justice programs”, noted Michael Baglivio a criminologist and YOF Advisory Council member. “Without targeted treatment, practitioners run the risk of wasting dollars, negatively impacting public safety, and, most importantly, limiting a youth’s future potential”.
In order to accomplish the goals suggested by FDJJ to “reduce recidivism” and “create a full range of services focused on youth with traumatic brain injury”, YOF grant staff will coordinate with four YOI managed Florida facilities in Broward, Kissimmee, Hastings and Ocala, statewide brain injury advocacy and support programs, and vocational counselors from FLVR. The post–discharge, community re–entry program will continue to provide supported resource facilitation techniques while focusing on post–secondary education and training, job acquisition and career development.
“We are particularly excited” commented Allison Flanagan, Director of FLVR, “about how this project could contribute to successful competitive work outcomes for youth with brain injury.”
The grant will touch on the strategic pillars of the YOF mission including education, mentoring and access to meaningful jobs, however, will highlight the importance of the fourth pillar of using applied research to find solutions to the root causes of the issues and challenges confronting our kids. A September 1 start date is anticipated; “all operational aspects of the research program are in place”, stated Drew Nagele, PsyD, and YOF Advisory Council member, “all we need is budget authority from the Governor’s office!”.