Sierra Health Foundation Awards $1.6 Million for California Juvenile Justice System Reform

Sierra Health Foundation Awards $1.6 Million for California Juvenile Justice System Reform

The Sierra Health Foundation Center for Health Program Management in Sacramento, in partnership with the California Endowment and the California Wellness Foundation, has announced grants totaling $1.6 million to help four counties implement an innovative approach to juvenile justice system reform.

As part of the Positive Youth Justice Initiative, the Vallejo City Unified School District in Solano County and the probation departments in Alameda, San Joaquin, and San Diego counties will each receive $400,000 over two years to test a series of reforms designed to transform their juvenile justice systems and dramatically improve the lives of the youth they engage across California. To date, SHF has invested $4.5 million in the initiative, which it launched in 2012 through its Center for Health Program Management.

Research has shown that 75 percent to 93 percent of youth entering the juvenile justice system have experienced traumatic victimization but receive little in the way of support or care services. SHF believes that by focusing on so-called "crossover youth" — young people who have a history in the child welfare system, have experienced trauma, and are engaged in the juvenile justice system — successful interventions will have a broader impact on both systems.

"The Positive Youth Justice Initiative was developed to ensure children in the juvenile justice system receive the support, guidance, and structure they need to move beyond the trauma and neglect most experience prior to being engaged by the justice system," said Chet P. Hewitt, president and CEO of Sierra Health Foundation and the Center for Health Program Management. "We are thrilled to be partnering with a group of innovative county leaders committed to leading the charge for juvenile justice reform in California. Their willingness to focus on the healthy development of system-engaged youth will enhance their individual prospects for a healthy, productive life while improving public safety for us all."