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Crook County to implement an integrated treatment court

An innovative project aimed at improving the lives of Oregon's children and families by attacking substance use, abuse, and other related problems
The Oregon Judicial Department (OJD) in partnership with the Department of Human Services (DHS) has launched an innovative project aimed at improving the lives of Oregon's children and families by attacking substance use, abuse, and other related problems. The project is designing, implementing, and evaluating eight pilot Integrated Treatment Courts for juvenile offenders with substance use disorders. Crook County has been selected as one of the eight pilot sites to implement an Integrated Treatment Court.
   The major objective of the project is to hold the youth accountable through the Integrated Treatment Court's interfacing with criminal justice and social service agencies where there is a common understanding of the difficulties faced by youth and families.
   According to Karen Wheeler of the Office of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs, "The vision behind the Integrated Treatment Court project is based upon the service integration principles defined by the Department of Human Services and the 10 Key Components of Drug Courts developed by the Office of Justice Programs." This represents the first major statewide grant-funded collaboration embarked upon by OJD and DHS.
   Crook County has been selected to participate in the project because of its community-wide commitment to service integration as well as its success in implementing an Adult Drug Court program.
   Additionally, the need is great in Crook County. According to the 2000 Data Book published by the Office of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Programs (OADAP), Crook County juveniles are using alcohol and other drugs at rates above the state average.
   For example, 14.2 percent of Crook County 6th graders report consuming alcohol in the past 30 days; the state average is only 8.2 percent. It has also been reported by OADAP that 1 in 4 Oregon students report using one or more illicit substances (excluding alcohol and tobacco) during the last 30 days. Alcohol and other drug use leads to crime.
   Although juvenile crime is down overall, the U.S. Department of Justice reports that juvenile court case loads have increased 49 percent between 1987 and 1996. In that same time period, there has been a 183 percent increase in the number of juvenile drug abuse cases that were formally processed.
   Through the implementation of the Integrated Treatment Court, Crook County officials hope to address the overwhelming problems associated with substance abuse in youth and families.
   A major emphasis for the statewide project is to use cutting edge, research-based best practice approaches for working with the juvenile offender. The Crook County Integrated Treatment Court has selected a holistic, strength-based model for working with the youth and families involved in the program.
   By using this model, the strengths that already exist are developed, accentuated and further assets are developed to increase resiliency within the family.
   The young person is held accountable for continued use of alcohol and other drugs through the imposition of sanctions. Youth who do well are complimented for their progress and are offered incentives or tokens of progress.
   "Program participation is not easy" states Program Coordinator/Family Intervention Specialist Jennifer Ashcraft. "Participants can expect bi-weekly appearances in court, frequent and random drug testing, required attendance at self-help meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), home visits, and in-depth substance abuse treatment.
   Referrals to other ancillary services such as individual and family counseling, mentoring, anger and stress management are also made." Additionally, participation in the program does not rest solely with the juvenile offender as family involvement is a major component of the program.
   The Crook County Integrated Treatment Court began in April of 2001 and is continually evaluating and assessing its effectiveness.
   "It is my sincere hope that the program will reduce the use of alcohol and other drugs by youth and families in Crook County" concluded Ashcraft.
   For more information about the Integrated Treatment Court or to find out how to make referrals to the program, contact Jennifer Ashcraft at 447-6541.