CASES Adds In-home Family Therapy to Long-Established Youth ATI, Expands Services in Queens

The Court Employment Project (CEP) [1] and Adolescent Portable Therapy (APT) [2] partner to improve outcomes for justice-involved young people including through expanded ATI services in Queens.

For more than 50 years, CEP has provided a community-based alternative to incarceration (ATI) for young people facing jail or prison as the result of a felony charge. CEP staff work in courts in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens, and this year the program will keep more than 300 young people ages 15-24 in the community and out of jail or prison.

Historically, fewer judges in Queens have referred young people to CEP compared to the other three boroughs. For many judges, transportation was a primary deterrent to referring young people to CEP, which until recently provided program services only in Central Harlem and Downtown Brooklyn. In late 2016, CASES launched CEP services in our Jamaica office in Southeast Queens. Subsequently, over the past 18 months, Queens judges have diverted an increasing number of youth to CEP as a jail or prison alternative, with annual CEP intakes in the borough more than doubling since 2016—from 26 in FY16 to 63 in FY18.

The successful expansion of CEP in Queens derives in part from the convenience of our new Jamaica location for Queens-residing youth. Another factor is CASES’ co-location in our Jamaica office of CEP services with Adolescent Portable Therapy (APT), CASES’ four- to -six-month in-home family therapy program for justice-involved youth. For CEP participants who have behavioral health needs and/or especially challenging family situations, the APT clinician provides flexible, individualized, and mobile support. APT’s services address transportation and community safety concerns that can be a barrier to success for some young people who live in Queens, especially given the borough’s geographic size and limited subway coverage. APT clinicians meet in any community setting that is convenient and comfortable for participants and their families—whether that is at home, school, work, or a park or restaurant.

“Many young people who live in Queens rely on buses and cars, rather than the subway, for transportation to school, work, CASES, and the court,” Andrea Yaffe, Director of CEP, said. “APT’s in-home engagement not only helps young people access treatment services, it also helps participants comply with court or probation requirements by minimizing logistical challenges.”

CEP staff work with each participant to develop an individualized service plan guiding their service engagement while in CEP, a six- to 12-month program that includes education, employment, and behavioral health services. APT clinicians help CEP participants achieve service plan goals including increased school attendance, decreased substance use, and improved family relationships.

“Family engagement is critical to the success of a justice-involved young person,” Ms. Yaffe said, “and APT is a natural enhancement of our services for youth in CEP.”

Sian Caisey, Co-Director of APT, agrees that APT services are a natural supplement to CEP.

“CEP knows how to work with young people, and APT knows how to work with families,” Ms. Caisey said. “APT helps families to address challenges while beginning to recognize and build on the strengths they do have. This in turn can make the difference in a young person’s commitment to succeeding in CEP, complying with court orders, and avoiding jail.”

The APT clinician is able to provide a clinical perspective to the relationships within families as well as relationships between the participants and CEP case managers and court representatives.

“Too often, families are blamed when a child or adolescent gets in trouble in school or in the court,” Ms. Caisey said. “APT clinicians know that families are a key part of the solution.”

CASES is grateful to the Robin Hood Foundation and the William J. and Dorothy K. O’Neill Foundation for their support of the expansion of APT including specifically as a supplement for CEP services in Queens.