OurRJ is thrilled to provide you with an update on the impact your support is having on young people, families, and communities in Massachusetts! Your contributions have allowed us to:
- Accept and manage 2 Children Requiring Assistance (CRA) status offense cases, with a third case soon to be referred
- Conduct 4 transformative restorative justice circles
- Impact at least 15 individuals through our comprehensive, relationship-centered restorative justice process
One powerful example of OurRJ's restorative justice CRA model in action is our work with Andrea and her parents.
Andrea and her family were referred to OurRJ after filing a Children Requiring Assistance (CRA) request. Following her parent's divorce, Andrea was exhibiting concerning behavior, including running away, frequent fights at home, and behavior issues in school. Compounding these challenges were Andrea's mental health needs. At the recommendation of a state agency case worker, Andrea's father filed a CRA application, in order to obtain further services and help address Andrea's troubling behavior.
However, what Andrea's parents found was an overwhelming tangle of social service providers, state agency caseworkers, court personnel, and referral processes. Rather than addressing the root causes of Andrea's behaviors, her family felt they were at the mercy of a confusing list of conflicting "plans," many of which involved minimal input from Andrea or her parents. This is where OurRJ came in.
Rather than the siloed services Andrea and her family had been attempting to navigate, OurRJ was able to convene a comprehensive group of service providers, therapists, teachers from Andrea’s school, and caseworkers, and help craft a single centralized plan of action that included meaningful input from Andrea and her parents.
Simultaneously, OurRJ conducted a number of restorative justice circles with Andrea, her parents, and siblings. Using time-honored restorative facilitation techniques, these circles provided a forum for the complex family conflicts taking place to be addressed, while also collaboratively creating a plan of support for Andrea moving forward, with all family members helping to share in the process of accountability.
According to Program Manager Eli Plenk, Andrea's parents both commented that participating in OurRJ's restorative justice circle process was the first time they felt like their voices were heard. According to Plenk, "I was able to watch the process at work and see them finally able to address some of the real issues at the heart of Andrea's behavior."
Though confronting long-standing, interpersonal issues was challenging at times, both parents felt like the unique restorative justice format provided an opportunity to finally make a meaningful change. As her father remarked, "This process feels like it is actually a solution, that we are finally solving the real problems and helping Andrea.”
Your donation to OurRJ's 'Help Preserve Families Through Restorative Justice Project' is helping us to stem pathways into the juvenile justice system before delinquency occurs among young people just like Andrea. Healthy relationships at school and at home are amongst the most crucial aspects of youth development, and our circle-based restorative justice model for CRA cases is providing families with a space for honest dialogue and collaborative problem solving while connecting them with comprehensive, long-term services.
On behalf of all of the youth and families with whom we work, thank you again for your generous contribution.
The OurRJ Team
P.S. Check out OurRJ's other project page, and learn more about how we are using restorative justice to keep youth in school and out of the court system!