The Intervention: Alternative to incarceration for youth and young adults
Who is Served: Youth and young adults aged 16-27 who are jail- or prison-bound, including those involved in Supreme and Criminal Court in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan
For a young person, the experience of incarceration can result in significant trauma, permanently disrupt traditional youth development activities including education, and increase the likelihood of future arrest. Those young people who do become court-involved tend to be overwhelmingly Black or Latine and male. Many of these youth have grown up in challenging family situations in neighborhoods with disproportionately high levels of poverty, police activity, and resident incarceration. They have often become disconnected from school, falling behind their age-level peers in critical literacy and math skills. Further, among incarcerated youth, national studies have found that more than 50% met criteria for a mental disorder and 60% met criteria for a substance use disorder.1
The ROAR Approach
ROAR incorporates a multidisciplinary team approach providing comprehensive support for each young person. ROAR’s staff include a Youth Development Coach, Employment Specialist, Therapist, and Criminal Justice Liaison. A young person’s experience in the program is guided by their individual ROAR Success Plan based on youth and family preference and screening and assessment results. The program assessment process includes the evidence-based Short-Term Assessment of Risk & Treatability (START) or START-Adolescent Version (START-AV) to identify strengths and goals along with needs and risks and guide the development of a program success plan emphasizing motivation and resilience. ROAR’s mandate length depends on charge type: for misdemeanors, the mandate is six months or less; for felonies, the mandate is six months or more. Upon ATI completion, ROAR graduates have the opportunity to engage in post-mandate services at CASES lasting up to 12-15 months.
Specific ROAR features include:
Education: In addition to having the opportunity to pursue their HSE diploma, ROAR participants also have access to high school/postsecondary support, including tutoring and counseling and support for the college application and admissions process.
Health: ROAR participants are screened for mental health and medical needs and will be connected to resources like the Institute for Family Health (co-located with CASES in Central Harlem), Mount Sinai, Housing Works, and borough-based primary care providers. ROAR participants also have access to services at the Nathaniel Clinic, CASES counseling and wellness center, as well as wellness groups offered at every ROAR location to support healthy relationships, good decision making, and recovery.
Family: ROAR participants have access to in-home family therapy through Adolescent Portable Therapy (APT). APT is CASES four-month family therapy model focused on identifying and building family strengths to improve family functioning, reduce high-risk youth behaviors, and promote youth and family engagement in pro-social, positive youth development, and/or support services.
Employment: Older ROAR participants age 21-27 have the opportunity to engage in DRIVE, an 18-session evidence-based curriculum developed by the University of Cincinnati using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) integrated with work-readiness instruction to address decision-making and employment needs. Younger ROAR participants age 17-24 and out of school also have access to CASES Jobs for America’s Graduates New York (JAG NY) program, emphasizing 20 core work-readiness competencies, diploma attainment, and job placement and advancement.
ROAR is an enhanced model replacing CASES long-established and successful youth ATI, the Court Employment Project (CEP).