Juvenile Graduated Sanctions
”I never thought I would have ever been glad to get in trouble but the StepUp program was great and helped me get on track. I will always remember how much this program helped me!” (A comment from a recent graduate of the Juvenile Graduated Sanctions Program called StepUp.) Another participant commented, “They told me life would be better if I did what is right.”
Initiated in May, 2007, StepUp offers juvenile first offenders and those demonstrating signs of delinquent behavior an opportunity to avoid the overcrowded juvenile court system and a chance to get back on track while being closely monitored and supported.
A committee of community volunteers meets monthly to initiate and review juvenile cases referred to StepUp by the Rogers County Office of Juvenile Affairs, Claremore municipal court, or by local public schools. The committee members visit with the young person and family members to determine what has brought them to the program. A course of action is then determined by the committee and presented to the youth and parent(s) in the form of a service plan with expected completion dates. Once the plan is completed, the youth is graduated from the program. Typical sanctions include curfews, letters of apology, community service, and counseling.
Meet our StepUp Olympic Gold Medal Winner for 2011/2012:
This award is being given for COMMITMENT TO MAKING POSITIVE CHANGES IN ONE’S LIFE.
The recipient of this medal is a 15 year old Hispanic female who was referred to the JGSP from OJA on an In Need of Supervision initiated by her adoptive parents. The StepUp Project Director first met with this juvenile in December, 2011. In her very early years she experienced severe trauma, was a victim of neglect and abuse and lived in multiple foster homes before being adopted. Due to biological and environmental factors, she struggles with mental and emotional instability and takes prescribed medication to help control the various symptoms of her mental illness, such as anger, depression, anxiety, the tendency to harm herself and be aggressive and destructive when angry. Last year when I met her she was serving a full year school suspension for a drug related offense, and she had just found out she was pregnant, the baby being due in July. Ever since she moved to Claremore about two years ago, she had struggled to make friends with other students who were positive influences, had been abusing alcohol and drugs, hung out with a negative peer group, had earned herself a bad reputation, and was considered a high risk teenager due to her instability and delinquent behavior.
Coming into the program, she was at a pivotal point in her life. She was seeing a counselor and was showing a desire for positive change in her life, motivated even more by the fact that she was going to have a baby. She was receptive to the supervision and accountability that this program would provide for her.
The committee first met with her on January 10, 2012. At that point, she had severed her relationship with the baby’s father due to his drug usage and had also cut herself off from all her negative peer influences. She was committed to staying away from any use of drugs and had to go off even her prescribed medication which was difficult. The majority of her time was now spent at home with very few activities and people to be with. From the beginning of her pregnancy, she was committed to keeping her baby and serious about remaining committed to the positive changes she was making in her life. The committee was there to recognize and encourage her progress. Her parents were supportive, and she had a strong relationship with her counselor. She also received private tutoring and learned to crochet while she was in our program. The crocheting turned out to be a stress relieving activity for her as she made things for her baby. She also completed her homebound school work successfully while taking some classes to prepare for the baby. She had her ups and downs during the several months she was in the program, dealing with many stress factors in her life, but she never wavered in her determination to stay focused on making right choices and taking care of herself and her baby.
Her baby girl was born in July. She is taking full responsibility for the care of her baby and loves being a mother. The committee graduated her from the program on September 11, 2012. She is calm and stable, and her current plan is to take the GED classes and then pass the exam. There was a risk due to her many problems that she would not succeed in the program. She is an example of success in the way that she complied with the expectations of the program and responded so positively to the guidance and encouragement we were able to offer her. At this time, her life is as “normal” as it has ever been. Home life with her parents and sister is peaceful, and she is finding fulfillment in being a mother.
To speak with our StepUp Director email:Nancy Turpel