The majority of children who find their way into the juvenile delinquency system have experienced first-hand many of the injustices and social ills which plague our society: poverty, racism, drugs, gangs, domestic violence, mental illness, abusive or inconsistent parenting, and inadequate schools and education—just to name a few. Unfortunately, it seems that in numerous instances the delinquency system is not a last-resort intervention, so to speak, but rather the first intervention many of these children receive.
It seems clear that social-work intervention should therefore be an integral part of the system's approach toward addressing juvenile crime. Identifying individual, family, cultural, and community factors, assessing children and family needs, and providing appropriate resource recommendations should happen routinely with every child who enters the system.
In its efforts to provide a best practice, "whole child," or Holistic Representation model, the CJLP utilizes an interdisciplinary team. For this reason, CJLP has a clinical social worker on staff, Vanessa Alvarez.
SOCIAL WORK ROLE
CJLP social workers function as consultants or "experts." The social workers' role is to help provide a contextual understanding of clients, their lives, the offense(s) with which they are charged, and all biological, psychological, social, and other factors which may be impacting them.
CJLP social workers provide the following services:
- Bio-psycho-social assessments when needed
- Law student education regarding individual, family, cultural, school, and community factors which may be impacting clients, and as relevant to a client's petition
- Resource assistance: assessing children and family needs and suggesting resources with the goal of improving functioning and keeping clients from re-offending
- Disposition recommendations, as well as alternative rehabilitation plans when appropriate
- Re-entry planning and support for clients returning to the community from detention
- Supervision of law students' case management efforts
- Direct intervention with clients and families, and/or guidance of students in providing interventions
- On-going collaboration and consultation with law students and staff as needed