Hello! My name is McKenzie Zimmermann. I am a graduate student at Kansas State University and my role on the Our Town, Our Kids project is to serve as a research assistant. On August 26th, I had the opportunity to listen to Megan Milner who works for the Kansas Department of Corrections in juvenile services. Megan spoke about Senate Bill 367 (SB367), the changes that have occurred because of the bill, and crossover youth. SB 367 is an initiative that was signed by Governor Brownback in 2016. The goal of this bill was to completed reform the juvenile justice system in KS by ways of evidence-based practices and thoughtful decision-making processes. A few of the evidence-based programs that KDC are:
When it comes to the decision-making process, changes such as a pre-adjudication detention regulations and pre/post disposition making were put into action to better support and advocate for the youth. But are these changes working? Yes! So far there has been positive changes and growth in the targeted areas of SB367. It is refreshing to know that the reform efforts in KS are making differences. I am excited to see the implications from these changes 3-5 years down the road.
Now, the last topic that Megan covered was crossover youth. Crossover youth is a new term to me, and it is probably a new term to you. A crossover youth is a youth who is involved in both the welfare system and juvenile justice system. This population of youth is one that is growing in our state and their unique needs are ones that we need to pay attention to. There are many committees working on creating solutions to the problems facing this population. The main solution is a crossover youth model. The goal of this model is to reduce the number of youth who cross systems, the number of youth placed in out of home care, the use of congregate care, and the disproportionate representation of youth of color.
This presentation gave great insight into the realities of Kansas and provided me with information about the current efforts to help youth. My main takeaway from this presentation was that our state is looking at youth within the juvenile justice system as more than just numbers. They are looking at them as developing individuals who require different things during different parts of their lives.
If anyone reading this post is contact with or knows a youth who is in the juvenile justice system, try suggesting some local resources to get the youth involved or suggesting to their parents/guardians about local resources they can take advantage of to learn how to better engage their youth. Some general resources for youth and parents are below: