Lenawee County Investing in You

County News

Lenawee County. We believe it’s the greatest county in Michigan. That’s why we continue to invest in a wide range of county programs and services to make this the best place to live in Michigan. Investing in our communities. Investing in our citizens. Investing in You.

Oct 29

Building a Trauma-Informed Business in Lenawee

Posted on October 29, 2019 at 12:21 PM by Jennifer Ambrose

Why Training Your Employees to Become Trauma-Informed Benefits Your Bottom Line


trainIt may seem like the opportunities for staff training are endless.  Whether they are mandated by law, critical for operations, or further the educational opportunities for your employees, it can be difficult to balance the need for training with the workload needed to keep your business running.  Training your staff on becoming trauma-informed may seem like something you could skip or put off until next year – but it is worth another look.  This training could have a major impact on your employees, customers, and ultimately impact your revenue.


Adverse Childhood Traumas

acesAdverse childhood traumas (ACEs) are stressful or traumatic events, including abuse, neglect, or household challenges that occur before an individual becomes an adult.  The number of ACEs a person experiences strongly influences their development. 


The Lenawee Health Network researchers have discovered a correlation between ACEs and adult problems.  In Lenawee County, 15% of adults have experienced 4 or more ACEs.  That means 15% of your employees have experienced these issues.  Research shows that the conditions and behaviors of ACEs are often the same conditions and behaviors that lead to absenteeism, job problems, and other indicators of poor work performance.  Training their fellow co-workers and your management team on considering trauma when approaching problems, you can interrupt the connection between past trauma and current performance. 


This is not just limited to your staff.  This also means that 15% of your customers have experienced trauma that is affecting their behaviors as an adult.  Training your employees be to be trauma-informed will increase empathy, enhance safety, and ensure improved delivery of services. 


Benefits of Becoming a Trauma-Informed Business

empathyUnderstanding what others are going through creates empathy.  Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, to place oneself in another’s position.  


Empathy has many benefits to your business, but one of the most tangible, visible impacts is on an improvement in customer service.  Customers often just want to be heard and understood.  It doesn’t mean that you have to agree with every single thing that they are saying or give them everything they want, but customers will often walk away happy from an interaction if empathy is displayed, which will create brand loyalty.


Empathy also improves teamwork.  When team members empathize with each other, your team can solve problems like never before.  Disagreement, frustration, and ill feelings go away and are replaced with a synergetic cohesive unit that is focused on delivering results. 


Finally, empathy fuels innovation.  There are many studies today that highlight the correlation between empathy and innovation.  So much so, that the Cleveland Clinic has an entire conference devoted to the two to improve the patient experience.  CEOs from Microsoft, Warby Parker, and KIND are shifting their focus to empathy training for their employees because of the innovation that can grow out of an empathetic team.


How Does My Business Become Trauma-Informed?

assessThe first step to becoming a trauma-informed organization is to conduct an organizational assessment.  Lenawee County Mental Health Authority can assist you in conducting an assessment at no charge to your business.  An assessment is important to begin with because it gives you a baseline in which to track improvement over time.


The time it will take to complete an assessment will depend on the size of your business, internal team members available to help complete the assessment, and your organization’s schedule. 


Regardless of the size of your organization,  becoming trauma-informed will better your business and would be an important investment that will return your investment of time many times over.


Contact LCMH at 517-263-8905 or visit us online for more information or to schedule an organization assessment.
Oct 29

Maurice Spear Campus Provides a Fresh Start for Troubled Youth

Posted on October 29, 2019 at 10:39 AM by Jennifer Ambrose


The Maurice Spear Campus was named for its founder, former Lenawee County Probate Judge Maurice Spear, who first conceived of the idea of creating a county youth facility after he was elected in 1960. The MSC consists of two different programs: a detention unit that houses up to 26 kids and an open unit that can house up to 40 kids.


The detention unit is a secure facility for kids who have committed a crime and are required to remain in the facility under a court order. The detention unit stays can vary from one day to one year. The program provides education and enrichment groups to help get kids back on track.


“We try to make an impact by helping the kids understand the poor choices they are making and what the consequences are,” explains Rodney Weaver, Director of the Maurice Spear Campus.


The open unit employs a more therapeutic and rehabilitative approach. It is designed for kids who’ve had repeated admissions to the detention unit and have not responded to other types of interventions in their home or community. Admission to the open unit is based on an order from the Juvenile Court. The typical stay in the open unit lasts from 9 to 14 months.


“The open unit has much more family involvement. We provide individual and family counselling. And the kids go to school right here on campus. They have chores and responsibilities,” explains Weaver. “They also have involvement in the community and do volunteer work.”


Having an open unit means the doors are not locked. The kids know that they are there under a court order, but they can also leave the campus to participate in community activities. They can earn more opportunities based on positive behavior.


“In the open unit, we can focus our attention on the kids that need help and want to get help, and their families,” explains Weaver. “The program is a commitment. The more the kids buy into it, the more successful they will be.”


The MSC employs youth specialists who work with the kids every day and remind them to brush their teeth, take a shower, and do their homework. Those basic tasks create the foundation for positive habits for the youth and creates stability in their lives


The youth specialists also coordinate schedules and provide transportation for the kids. “Our staff are constantly driving kids all over town and making sure everyone gets where they need to be,” explains Weaver. “More importantly, they show the kids that there is someone who cares about where they are and what they are doing each day.”


In addition to the youth specialists, there are also licensed therapists who provide individual and family counseling that is essential for the kids to make positive changes in their lives.

On Campus School Helps Kids Get Caught Up


Kids also attend school during their stay at the Maurice Spear Campus. The school is staffed with five teachers from the Lenawee Intermediate School District (LISD). Many of the kids have fallen behind in school and are not meeting the standards for their age and grade level. One of the goals for the teachers at the MSC is to make sure the kids get caught up.


One of the primary benefits of the on-site school is the small class sizes, which means that kids receive more individualized attention. All of the teachers from the LISD are used to working in groups that include different ages and skill levels. The teachers are also cross trained to cover multiple subjects. The personalized instruction can help the kids learn to appreciate school in a different way. It reignites their passion for learning.


“This year, we had four students graduate from high school and two of them were also accepted into Sienna Heights University,” says Julie VanBlack, Regional Supervisor at the Lenawee Intermediate School District. “We try to make sure the kids leave here with an education and job skills that will allow them to move forward in their lives in a positive way.”


Another unique program is the partnership between MSC and Goodwill Industries. The program with Goodwill Industries is all about job training. Any of the kids in the open unit have an opportunity to meet with the staff at Goodwill to discuss their interests and find out if there is a job that would be a good match. They start off working at Goodwill one afternoon per week, and if it works out, they can increase their hours to two evenings per week. 

“They work in the retail stores or the in the distribution center getting items sorted for the stores. It provides great real-world experience for them,” explains Weaver. “They are paid on a debit card and can use that income for whatever they need to buy. It teaches them responsibility.”

In addition to the partnership with Goodwill Industries, MSC has relationships with many individuals and organizations in the community that provide volunteer opportunities for the kids.


Volunteer activities can range from raking leaves in the fall for local senior citizens, to working at the Michigan International Speedway to help clean up on race day. The kids also help out local charities, such as the Michigan Humane Society. All of these activities help to build connection and increase self-esteem for the kids staying at the MSC.


“We are very thoughtful in the partnerships we choose,” explains Weaver. “We want to select activities that are positive and healthy for the kids to participate in, while also making a contribution back to the community.”

The Maurice Spear Campus is guided by an advisory Board of Directors that includes representation from cities and townships across Lenawee County. Many of the board members come from the educational system, including John Springer, a retired teacher who has served on the board since 2008.


“As board members, we are dedicated to helping the program achieve its goals,” says Springer. The board has helped to raise funds for program improvements, and they provide financial support for the partnership with Goodwill Industries. They also support special events for the staff and residents, as well as funding scholarships to colleges or trade schools for program graduates.


“It’s hard to say where these kids might end up without these services, but probably not in a good place,” explains Weaver. “It is easy to go down the wrong road. Our program provides structure and guidance to help these kids make better decisions.”


Dec 26

Lenawee County is Investing in Justice through Enhanced Treatment Court

Posted on December 26, 2018 at 9:53 AM by Jennifer Ambrose

Imagine finding yourself in jail, not knowing how you got there and struggling with confusion and hopelessness.  You don’t understand what is going on.  You may not know how you got there.

For those struggling with mental illness, this is not an imaginary story. It’s reality.

Over 44 million Americans suffer from a mental illness and many have trouble accessing care due to a shortage of care professionals.  Poverty inflicts additional damage upon those that are already ill.  Our jails are full of those that suffer – in some counties up to 50% of inmates have a mental health condition.  Mental illness is not a crime and Lenawee County is attempting to change the paradigm. 

True Justice for All

Lenawee County has three specialty, or problem-solving courts.  These special court programs are designed to address the underlying problems facing offenders and are focused on rehabilitation instead of incarceration.  Sobriety Court, Drug Court, and Enhanced Treatment Court save the county countless dollars every year by reducing reoffenders.

The Enhanced Treatment Court program, sometimes called Mental Health Court, was launched in late 2016.  Participants must qualify to participate in the program but in doing so they have the opportunity to turn their lives around.

“This program benefits the participants by offering them mental health and substance abuse treatment instead of jail time,” explained Heather Brown, Certified Peer Support Specialist and Recovery Coach.  “Once our participants tap into the resources that are provided for them, they realize they’re not alone.”

One is the Loneliest Number

Isolation and mental illness often work hand in hand and creates a vicious cycle that is hard to break.  Mental Health Court seeks to break that cycle.  “Our goal is that participants are getting connected and engaging in the community,” explained Ashley Boehlke, Probation officer and Specialty Courts Coordinator.


Our community benefits the most when all of its members are healthy, productive, and functioning members of society.  “If our community didn’t have an Enhanced Treatment Court for mental health services, we would have a lot of defendants ‘slip through the cracks’ so to speak,” elaborated Boehlke. “There would be more people that spend time in jail and more that don’t get connected with mental health treatment while they’re on probation.”

“This program benefits our community by really focusing on the person as a whole and helping them become functioning members of society,” explained Brown.

Community Importance

With the closing of an in-patient psychiatric unit at Herrick Hospital last year, this program is even more essential for our county. It is difficult to get connected to the appropriate services for mental health, especially in an emergency situation, which may often lead an individual to committing a crime.

“Since the in-patient psych unit shut down in Lenawee County we have – as a community not, just our program – all seen a big need for people to be able to get in-patient services,” said Boehlke. “We hope that getting the participants connected with out-patient services in a much quicker way will help alleviate some of that need.”

Access to immediate, emergency, local mental health care continues to be a concern for many citizens in Lenawee County.  At a recent town hall event, over 150 residents attended to brainstorm ways to help solve the problem.  The Mental Health Court program is just one piece of a larger puzzle in the county and Lenawee County officials stress its importance now, more than ever.

“We are listening to our citizens and their concerns,” stated David Stimpson, Lenawee County Board of Commissioners Chair.  “We remain committed to the Enhanced Treatment Court program as one community resource for mental health treatment.  Our investment in this program is an investment in our citizens and enhances our community.”

Intensive Rehabilitation Program

The 12-24 month program includes a customized treatment plan for each participant.  Within seven days participants are connected to treatment providers and they are assigned a specialist that is their resource throughout their time in the program. They also participate in individual and group therapy, have access to appropriate medication, and are required to attend ongoing meetings with the court system. 

“We also provide transportation to and from appointments for our participants,” explained Brown. “It helps them to really engage with their treatment and gives us more face-to-face time to work on their coping skills.”

A Successful Program Leads to a Successful Lenawee

Since its launch in 2016, the program has seen great success. 

  • 100% of graduates have maintained stable housing at least 90 days prior to graduation
  • The program has an 85% retention rate (The state of Michigan’s goal for the same program is 60%)
  • 90% of the participants compliant with the program (The state of Michigan’s goal is only 80%).

The program has seven graduates, with one participant nearing graduation shortly.  Boehkle and Brown are very proud of the program that they help run on a daily basis as well as their graduates. 

“This program benefits our community by really focusing on the person as a whole and helping them become functioning members of society,” explained Brown. 

For more information about Mental Health Court, visit us online or contact the District Court at 517-264-4675.