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Program Overview 

CW Solutions and Wood County Human Services Department were awarded a Youth Innovation Grant from the Department of Children and Families in the fall 2019. The purpose of that grant is to support counties and tribes implementation of a new Youth Justice project or practice that they would not otherwise be able to accomplish without a significant amount of seed money. We were awarded an initial grant of $150,000 and have been awarded a continuation grant for continued programming in 2021. The program is designed to be cost-neutral or realize a net savings of tax payer funding, allowing it to be sustainable beyond the 2021 grant year.

The overriding goal of the program is to prevent or reduce the need for out-of-home care in a group home, institution or incarceration by addressing the behavioral issues that are resulting in youth justice involvement.  The primary intervention strategy is to complete a comprehensive behavior analysis, identifying the environmental and personal triggers impacting a youth's behavior. A behavior plan is then developed with the youth and family that address the environmental areas of self (me), family, friends and community (such as school). The Intensive Youth Justice Social worker then works with the youth, family and others who are directly connected with the youth on developing specific skills for communication, self-observation, responses and emotional regulation.

This program is designed to provide intensive services in the youth’s natural settings (the home, school, and community) and to gradually lessen as the youth begins showing progress and using prosocial skills independently. Behavioral interventions rely on data collection in order to track youth progress and make the intervention as effective as possible as quickly as possible. The team approach allows the environments to learn how to promote the long-term success of the youth after participation in this program has finished.

Research has shown that using evidence and function-based interventions leads to better outcomes and more positive behavior gains than other interventions. Applied Behavior Analysis comes from a long history of research in learning and behavior science. It’s approach is to shift the energy from negative behaviors that often lead to problems and conflicts towards new positive behaviors that offer the youth a chance to thrive and be who they want to be.  

Interventions are tailored to the youth and their environment and use a team approach to create lasting positive change.  The four key skill development/intervention areas are:

  • Communication: The program helps the youth, parental caretakers, school staff and other connected community providers improve their communication skills - focusing on truly having "shared meaning" between people. Youth learn how to express their concerns and needs and adults learn new communication techniques.
  • Observation: Youth and adults learn how to conduct self-observation and analysis - to identify their motivations, their needs and reactions.
  • Responses: Youth and adults learn what their default responses are, what triggers those and how those responses contribute to the negative behaviors. They are also provided new response behavior options, which they practice throughout program participation.
  • Emotional Regulation: This component is intertwined with the first three skills, as it is usually the emotional response trigger that limits communication, self-awareness and results in a reactive instead of a responsive behavior. Youth and adults learn about their default emotional reactions and how to better regulate their emotions.

This program is designed to provide intensive services in the youth’s natural settings (the home, school, and community) and to gradually lessen as the youth begins showing progress and using prosocial skills independently. Behavioral interventions rely on data collection in order to track youth progress and make the intervention as effective as possible as quickly as possible. The team approach allows the environments to learn how to promote the long-term success of the youth after participation in this program has finished.  

Phases Overview 

There are three (3) phases to this program that typically happen in sequence but may overlap each other during the shift to the next phase. These phases are Assessment, Intervention, and Transition. 

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Program Outcomes 

With participation in this program, youth will learn valuable skills to help them reach their goals and be who they want to be. Parents and those who are involved in the youth’s development will receive the tools they need to help the youth develop and maintain positive behaviors and build stronger positive relationships. 

For the grant period of 10/2019 - 12/2020, we have already identified $238,000 in total savings of from youth who have engaged in the program and were able to transition from institutional care back with family. The net savings after subtracting the grant award of $150,000 is $88,000 and counting!

To learn more about this program, please contact: 

Missy Wachuta, Intensive Youth Justice Social Worker l This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  l  715-542-8678 

 or  

Stephanie Wanserski, Youth Justice Unit Supervisor l  715-542-8618