Jacqueline (Jackie) Sullivan joined Youth Services as its Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) Coordinator this past spring. The BARJ program is a supportive case management and restorative justice program for youth on probation, youth at a higher risk of involvement with the juvenile justice system, and youth ages 10 and up with low school attendance—at risk for truancy.
According to Youth Services’ Youth Programs Director, Megan Grove, the agency’s BARJ program recognizes that many young people entering the criminal justice system have underlying factors that lead to the criminal misconduct.
Before the end of the school year, Sullivan was able to support youth in completing their court-ordered probation conditions and restorative panel contracts, build resources and resiliency, and decrease their likelihood of further court involvement.
“Early intervention is key to addressing the reasons that kids aren’t showing up for school or have gotten into mischief after school. With early intervention we can reduce the likelihood of future involvement in the justice system. Sometimes by offering individual or group coaching in conflict resolution, anger management, and other skills we can help the young person and their parents turn around the situation,” Grove explained.
Sullivan is an integral part of Supporting School Success, a collaboration between Youth Services and Windham County School districts which focuses on truancy intervention for students age 10 and older. The program works directly with students, families and other involved community agencies and serves as a bridge between them.
“Jackie works from a different stance than the traditional “Truant Officer”, Grove stressed, “acting instead as a supportive helper with a positive, proactive and less punitive approach that builds the necessary skills and understanding needed for students and families to make a long-term commitment to education. She looks at all areas of a student and family’s life that contribute to or can help solve the problem.”
Sullivan’s supportive case management focuses on reducing stresses at home that might be related to money or work problems, housing issues, health needs, transportation and developing the skills and interests of the young person, she explained.
“We link families with other people and places in the community to meet needs and support strengths. We help with parenting support, education and referrals to other parenting programs such as family therapy or parenting classes,” Sullivan said.
According to Megan Grove, the outcomes of the collaboration are increased school attendance, improved relationships in family and school, improved life satisfaction and self-esteem, increased parent involvement and parenting skills, improved access and use of resources.
The position requires collaboration and regular communication with a diverse number of stakeholders including court personnel, the State’s Attorney and Public Defender’s offices, law enforcement, Department of Children and Families, local schools and a number of community organizations.
Before joining Youth Services, Sullivan had been employed for a year as a Youth Development Specialist at Family Service League in Huntington Station, NY after being a Mentoring Coordinator for two years at Huntington Youth Bureau. Sullivan has a BS degree in Criminal Justice from The City University of New York in Manhattan.
To find out more about Youth Services youth programs, call Youth Services at (802) 257-0361 or visit www.youthservicesinc.org