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Posted on August 21, 2019 at 9:32 AM by Jennifer Ambrose
The teenage years can be challenging for any family, but in some cases, it is more than the family can handle on their own. When kids are constantly skipping school, acting out at home, using drugs and alcohol, or engaging in criminal activities such as shoplifting, they may need more specialized attention to help set them back on the right path. As much as the kids try to deny it, these types of behaviors are often a way to seek attention and ask for help.
Many teenagers are struggling just to fit in. They may be bullied or picked on at school, or they might be the ones doing the bullying. They may feel intimidated by kids who seem to be smarter or more successful than they are and so they act out, mostly out of frustration. They may feel like they are not socially accepted. Or they may not feel like anyone at home cares about them. Most kids are just looking for a place where they can feel like they belong.
Providing a safe and stable environment where kids can escape from peer pressure and other negative influences can help to build a foundation for a healthier and happier life.
Offering a Range of Programs to Educate Kids and Support Families
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 Probate 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.”
MSC Staff Provide Structure and Consistency
Many kids who come to the Maurice Spear Campus for treatment are feeling lost and lacking direction. The consistent routine at the MSC creates stability in their lives. 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 as the kids grow older.
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.”
Partnership with Goodwill Industries Teaches Job Skills
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.”
Community Involvement Allows Kids to Give Back
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.”
Fundraising Activities Support Programs and Facility Improvements
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Posted on September 4, 2018 at 11:03 AM by Jennifer Ambrose
Transportation is something that most people take for granted. If you need to go somewhere, you just hop in your car and drive there. But some residents in Lenawee County do not have access to their own personal transportation. Having access to transportation provides independence and economic opportunities, allowing people to travel from home to work, school, community programs, doctor’s appointments, retail stores or just to visit your family or friends. Public transportation can provide a sense of independence for our mobility dependent population.
Lenawee County understands the positive impact that reliable and affordable transportation can have on people’s lives. That is why we are investing in your mobility through Lenawee Transportation, which is Lenawee County’s public transportation system.
Who does Lenawee Transportation serve?
Lenawee Transportation is open to everyone in the community. Last year, they served over 50,000 riders, including individuals with disabilities and senior citizens who no longer hold a driver’s license. Some of their clients use the service daily to get to community programs such as Goodwill or the Hope Community Center. Others may use it on a one-time basis for a ride to a doctor’s appointment or a trip the grocery store. For some, Lenawee Transportation’s service provides an opportunity for someone to visit a friend.
“A lot of people think that Lenawee Transportation is only for specialized services, but that is not the case,” explains Becky Blevins, Lenawee Transportation Dispatcher. “We are open to anyone who needs a ride. As long as it is within our service area, we will do everything we can to accommodate everyone.”
What is the service area for Lenawee Transportation?
Lenawee Transportation operates Monday through Friday. Standard office hours are from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, but they start picking up residents as early as 6:15 am in order to complete their routes. The service initiates in Adrian and transports residents to following areas: Blissfield, Clinton, Hudson, Morenci, Rome and Tecumseh.
Starting in 2017, they also added a route serving the Onsted area. They offer curbside pick-up for residents of the Village of Onsted with drop-off in Adrian. For those who reside outside of the Village limits, they offer pick-up at a mutually agreed upon location within the Village limits. This route currently operates on Tuesdays and Thursdays only.
A list of all the routes is available on the Lenawee Transportation website.
How much does it cost to ride with Lenawee Transportation?
Lenawee Transportation offers reasonable rates so anyone can afford to ride. The rates for a one-way trip are $3 for adults and $1.50 for children under age 10, senior citizens and people with disabilities. Exact change is required. To make it easier for residents, they accept cash or tokens for payment. Tokens are available for purchase at the transportation department at the Adrian City Hall.
How can I contact Lenawee Transportation?
Anyone who needs to schedule a ride can call the dispatch office at 517-265-4444. Advance reservations are not always required. Same day service may be available depending on room availability and your origin and destination. It is important to call and cancel your ride if your plans change. That will open up a space for another person to ride. If you have special needs, such as a wheelchair, please let the dispatcher know so we may secure a spot for you!
Lenawee Transportation is a valuable resource that many people depend on within our community. There are also economic benefits for our community, as well. “If Lenawee Transportation did not exist, I think it would be a huge disadvantage to our county,” says Blevins. “There are not a lot of other options in our community for discounted transportation. And our fares are very fairly priced so that anyone can afford them.”
If you would like to learn more about how Lenawee County is investing in you, please visit our website for information and updates.