REDEMPTION, NOT RETRIBUTION
Keep kids out of the court and corrections systems whenever possible; Provide individualized support for kids who are in the system; Help kids successfully transition out of the system and avoid re-entering it; Help kids redeem their lives as defined in their totality; Contribute what we know and learn to help reform the system.
Children involved in these tragedies are at the center of the model. Our skilled and responsible adults speak and act for the child. The child advocate occupies the functional center to coordinate a balanced and rounded delivery of legal and other services but conceptualizes his/her role as the servant of the child and, to the greatest extent possible, submits to the child’s leadership.
Individualized support for each young person is organized around individual trust funds, the trustees of which include the child advocate and at least one family member and/or local community member. The purpose of the trust fund is to serve as the nucleus of a broad support network of people and institutions that are committed to the long-term support and welfare of each child.
We conceptualize service delivery and its coordination with the analogy of a 3-car driving team going down a three-lane highway. One lane is restricted to whatever happens in court—the province of judges, prosecutors, attorneys, and evidence generated by police. Another lane is about what is happening in the child’s family, its role the upbringing of the child (and, implicitly, its role in the crime), its values and behavior norms, its traditions, its strengths and weaknesses, its internal and external alliances and conflicts—but above all, its capacity to grow by making informed free choices to create a desired future. The third lane is what happens to the child: his physical, mental and spiritual development, the connections he is to have to his family and to the world, where and how he is to be detained, treated, cared for, educated, and rehabilitated.