Baltimore City Health Department, Maryland
August 7, 2013
Michelle is an Operation Safe Kids (OSK) cCourt participant. She was almost 18 years of age when she come into the program and had been adjudicated on charges of robbery with a deadly weapon, robbery, first degree assault, and second degree assault. When she was enrolled in the program, she shared that her mother suffered from mood and psychotic disorders and frequently had bad mood swings and was often unable to financially support her or her siblings. She and her sibling repeatedly found themselves in and out of foster care homes.
In addition, Michelle also had a history of depression, physical abuse, substance abuse and academic disorder. She was in need of a stable living arrangement, stable income, and prenatal care as she was soon to be a single mother. Her OSK Court team knew her case had to be expedited or she would become another youth lost in the system or to the streets. Her team was able to have the case presented on a morning docket within 48 hours of her being enrolled into the program and that same afternoon the judge reconvened the OSK Court team to ensure the youth had a viable service plan.
Since that meeting, OSK Court has assisted Michelle with navigating the Department of Social Services (DSS) system. This included connecting her to emergency food resources and assisting her mother in applying for food stamps. Michelle was also referred to the Maternal and Infant Care Program under the Baltimore City Health Department for support and guidance with her pregnancy. OSK Court also helped to find Michelle a stable home with a supportive foster family. After the birth of her baby, Michelle began working towards obtaining her GED.
OSK Court is a problem-solving court model, that targets juvenile justice system youth who are on probation and at-risk of out-of-home placement. OSK Court’s intensive community-based program provides accountability and immediate response for youth like Michelle, that are the highest risk youth who continue to exhibit delinquent behavior within Department of Juvenile Justice’s Violence Prevention Initiative. OSK Court was able to provide Michelle with the crucial support she needed in order to more smoothly transition through a difficult phase in her life.
OSK Court has an amazing impact on its participants. This year 62% of the participants have demonstrated positive changes in behaviors. Families, workers, and partners agree that this program is necessary to support some of our highest-risk youth. In addition, the program continues to be a successful alternative to placement. Of the 20 discharges this year, only 6, or 30% have been discharged due to long-term placement. OSK Court can and is making a difference in today’s youth.