KDOC Celebrates One Year of Therapy Program for Juvenile Offenders in Southeast Kansas
A ceremony and reception at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites praised Eckerd Kids’ work for providing Functional Family Therapy (FFT) services in Southeast Kansas and celebrated that FFT will soon be available to youth throughout the state.
For the past year, courts in Southeast Kansas have been employing FFT as an alternative to removing youth from their homes or incarcerating them. Now this data-driven combination of therapy and supervision for juvenile offenders is being made available to youth statewide.
Two other contractors, Cornerstones of Care in Northeast Kansas, and EmberHope in the western half of Kansas, are beginning to provide FFT this month.
State Rep. Blaine Finch of Ottawa spoke on the philosophy behind juvenile justice reform that is taking place in the state, which includes the provision of FFT. He described how legislation enacted in the past year has shaped a new direction for juvenile justice.
“We have been very focused on modernizing and improving the juvenile justice system in the state,” said Finch. “The legislature and the three branches of government are solidly behind this program, dedicated to keeping kids close to home and giving them the lightest touch possible.”
Eckerd Kids Operations Director Ellen Standlee described the organization’s relationship to KDOC and the process of FFT.
“We go out of our way to engage with the family, provide support, and show them there is hope,” said Standlee, who described the phases of therapy involved with FFT. “We are seeing families come together, stay together, and work through their issues.”
A father and daughter who have received FFT services from Eckerd Kids shared their appreciation for the program.
“Honestly, I didn’t believe it would work,” said Justin Borror of Arkansas City, whose 17-year-old daughter Autumn Williams also spoke about her experience. “But we’ve been able to come together and become a family. We sat down, did the program, and it worked for us. It’s changed me. It’s not just for the kids.”
FFT provides therapy and supervision of youth still in their homes to help them become more adaptive and successful. For more than 40 years in numerous states, the program has been able to reduce reliance on out-of-home placement and its negative effects on the youth and family. FFT has successfully reduced recidivism from 25 to 60 percent in various states.
KDOC reported recently that 89 juvenile-justice-involved youth and their families in Southeast Kansas entered the FFT program instead of experiencing an out-of-home placement or secure confinement. Of those, just three were placed in out-of-home settings during FFT treatment. The agency said this is much improved from results of a 2014 study that found more than 51% of Kansas youth who were discharged from a Youth Residential Center II remained out of home six months post discharge.
“Youth who are participating in the FFT program in Southeast Kansas are responding better to treatment, not committing additional crimes, maintaining their bonds to family, and costing the state less by staying out of more restrictive settings,” KDOC Deputy Secretary of Juvenile Services Terri Williams said.