Preventing Juvenile Crime: The CHINS Law

TUE, OCT 7, 2003 (1:49:59)

This forum examines the CHINS law with the intent to put forth a positive vision for reform.

Thirty years ago, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts established a system called CHINS ("Children in Need of Services") to address problems of troubled youth. The law was intended to help keep these youth out of further trouble, steering them toward more productive pathways through services and other help. The reality is that the system is currently not working. A study by the state's Commissioner of Probation found that over half of all CHINS youth were arraigned for adult criminal or juvenile delinquent offenses within three years of their first CHINS petition.

This event is part of the Community Safety Forum Series hosted by The BostonFoundation, The Gardiner Howland Shaw Foundation and coordinating partnersMassINC and The Crime and Justice Institute.

+ BIO: Molly Armstrong

Molly Armstrong began her career as a caseworker with adolescent girls. In 1986, she built a transitional living program for homeless teenage girls and mothers. After graduating from law school and spending some years as a public defender in the District of Columbia, she joined the Vera Institute of Justice in New York. At Vera, she built a 24/7 response system, Project Confirm, to address the over-representation of foster youth in the juvenile justice system by coordinating among the City's Department of Juvenile Justice, Probation, and child welfare systems. Molly authored the Family Court Improvement Project court processing study for New York State. She helped the leadership at the Administration for Children's Services, New York City's then newly created child welfare agency, at the start of its reform, diagnose a series of challenges with adolescent practice, kinship care, and data systems. Over eight years, she researched, designed and implemented a series of other interventions to address overlap among the child welfare, juvenile justice, substance abuse, and mental health systems. In 2004, she received the Kathryn McDonald Award for Excellence in Service to the Family Court from the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. After leaving New York City to assist Governor Blanco's juvenile justice reform efforts in Louisiana, she joined New Jersey's Department of Children and Families as Director of Policy and Planning. There she focused on rebuilding New Jersey's foster care recruitment and licensing practice and developing the performance metrics, tools, and capacity used to drive reform. Molly specializes in utilizing intensive field and data diagnostics to identify challenges and then design and implement practical, effective and efficient solutions. She is a graduate of Yale University with a law degree from New York University and a Masters of Law in Clinical Advocacy from Georgetown.

+ BIO: Harry Spence

Harry Spence is Lecturer on Education. He served from December 2001 until June 2007 as Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Social Services, where he was responsible for the Commonwealth's child welfare program, supervising 3,400 employees, with an annual budget of $750 million.

He developed the "next generation" child welfare practice model, which involved the teaming of social workers, a national innovation that won the Kennedy School Innovations in Government Award in 2006. He served from 1995 to 2000 as the Deputy Chancellor for Operations for the New York City Board of Education, and from 1991 to 1995 in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Administration and Finance as the Receiver for the City of Chelsea, where his responsibilities included the rebuilding of the city school system and enactment of municipal charter reform.

He has provided consulting services to major national organizations with a focus on education and held a Lecturer appointment at the Kennedy School of Government from 1988 to 1991. Mr. Spence holds a JD from Harvard Law School (1974).

+ BIO: Patricia Wynn

In 2006 Patricia established Princeton Printing, LLC which took over the ownership of a printing business that had operated for twenty years at the company's Somerville, MA location. As Owner and CEO, Patricia leads the company's efforts to meet the highest standards of print production and customer service.

Before joining the print industry, Patricia practiced law in Massachusetts, serving the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in various capacities including, Deputy Chief Counsel of the Committee for Public Counsel Services, Chief Counsel to the Massachusetts House Committee on Ways and Means and Assistant District Attorney for Plymouth County. Patricia also practiced law in the private sector, specializing in criminal defense and bankruptcy.

She is a graduate of Princeton University and Suffolk University Law School and holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Boston University.

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