Burning Down the House at Blueprints

Posted by Sophie Karpf

It's not enough to do no harm, we must also do some good

Leaders in evidence-based practices and their advocates are gathered this week in Denver at the biennial Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development Conference. As part of that, Multisystemic Therapy (MST) held a one-day pre-conference specifically for people looking to learn more about how and why MST is a successful treatment program. Chief Judge Steven Teske of Clayton County, Ga., kicked off the day, joined by other thought leaders such as President and CEO of The Children’s Village Jeremy C. Kohomban and Manager of Administrative Services of the CT Judicial Branch Court Support Services Division Julie Revaz. Our special keynote speaker was Nell Bernstein, author of Burning Down the House.

Bernstein, a passionate advocate for juvenile-justice reform, opened the world’s eyes to the often brutal and deadly world behind bars when she came out with her book in late 2014. The stories she told can be difficult to digest at times and beggar belief at others. It is, in short, a compelling argument in favor of completely shutting down juvenile prisons.

For those of you unable to join us at Blueprints, the brief video below sums up Bernstein’s viewpoint on juvenile incarceration.

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Topics: Blueprints, MST pre-conference

Ken Warner, New Mexico Champion, to Speak at MST Pre-conference

Posted by Sophie Karpf

Thanks to Ken Warner, New Mexico has Multisystemic Therapy statewide

In 2000 when Ken Warner and his colleagues at the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department, Children’s Behavioral Health Bureau (CBHB) attended a presentation on Multisystemic Therapy (MST) in Albuquerque, he had no idea he would go on to champion the evidence-based program statewide.


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Topics: Blueprints, MST pre-conference

EBA President Dan Edwards Speaking at MST Pre-Conference

Posted by Melanie Duncan

For nearly 20 years, Dr. Edwards has been supporting evidence-based reform

Dr. Dan Edwards, president of Evidence-Based Associates (EBA), says he remembers being a lifelong fan of two things: the Red Sox and Multisystemic Therapy (MST). His graduate school seminar on family therapy at the University of Florida was taught by Jim Rodrigue, a protégé of Scott Henggeler, the developer of MST. The required textbook for the course was “Family Therapy and Beyond” (the original book on MST), and so Dr. Edwards just assumed that MST was family therapy when he started out. He knew at that point, he wanted to be involved with MST somehow.


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Topics: Blueprints, MST pre-conference

Children’s Village CEO Kohomban to Speak at MST Pre-Conference

Posted by Sue Dee

Jeremy Kohomban will explain how to use EBPs to get juveniles out of placement at the MST pre-conference at Blueprints

How does a large organization that provides residential treatment to children and teens change direction to decrease residential care by using evidence-based practices (EBPs)? Not only will Jeremy Kohomban answer that question, but at the MST pre-conference kicking off this April’s Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development Conference in Denver, he will also relate how his organization accomplished this, becoming a key player in national change.


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Topics: Blueprints, MST pre-conference

Judge Steven Teske Speaking at the MST Pre-conference

Posted by Lori Cohen, MST Services

A longtime vocal proponent of juvenile-justice reform coming to Blueprints to share his experience

The Georgia justice system was, to put it mildly, not stellar. The state had gotten on the tough-on-crime bandwagon in the early 90s. That led to the number of prisoners in state lockups jumping from 20,000 in 1990 to 50,000 14 years later. The numbers looked even worse when you considered that a 2009 Pew study determined that one in 13 Georgians were either in jail, on probation or parole. This gave Georgia the dubious distinction of having the highest such rate in the country. Throw into this mix that although blacks were only 31 percent of the state’s population, they accounted for 58 percent of prisoners.

But things have been changing as the attitude of sweep up offenders, even ones who commit lesser crimes, and throw them into prison has changed. Judge Steven C. Teske has been at the forefront of that movement. He is a highly respected jurist who started his career in the justice- system trenches as Atlanta’s Chief Parole Officer, working his way up to chief judge of Clayton County’s juvenile court. 


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Topics: Blueprints, MST pre-conference

Nell Bernstein to Speak at the MST Pre-conference

Posted by Dr. Gregorio Melendez

Author Nell Bernstein opens up on closing down juvenile prisons

Nell Bernstein, activist, journalist and author, is scheduled to speak at the MST’s pre-conference, which will kick off this April’s Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development Conference in Denver. We initially spoke with her back in October 2014, a few months after the publication of her second book, Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison. It is a compelling argument for the wholesale takedown of the juvenile-prison system. As part of the run-up to the conference, we wanted to sit down with her again, look back on the last year or so and talk about what the future may bring. 


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Topics: Blueprints, MST pre-conference

Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development

Posted by Lori Cohen, MST Services

A conference on evidence-based programs

"The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate." —Joseph Priestley

Emails are great. Phone calls good. Face-to-face communication, best.

The back-and-forth, give-and take exchanges of ideas and experiences lead to new insights, expanded knowledge, immediate clarifications and solidification of personal connections.  

This makes the Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development Conference in April 2016 such an important event for those working to improve the well-being of children. blueprints-2016.jpg

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Topics: Blueprints, Blueprints conference, MST pre-conference

First, Do No Harm: Cancel Scared Straight

Posted by Patrick Duffy, MST Services

The cable network A&E has been running a popular series for six seasons called “Sacred Straight.” It purports to show a forceful way of handling juvenile offenders by taking them to a correctional facility and having inmates intimidate them with threats of what will happen if the kids end up in prison. And of course, the next episode features a sobbing or sobered delinquent declaring he or she will straighten up.beyond_scared_straight

It’s a feel-good for the audience. Such a simple way to straighten out these young miscreants. Only problem, it’s Hollywood nonsense, as Del Elliott, the director of the program on Problem Behavior and Positive Youth Development and the founding director of The Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence in the Institute of Behavioral Science (IBS) at the University of Colorado recently pointed out.

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Topics: Blueprints for healthy families, Blueprints, scared straight

What’s all this brouhaha about evidence-based practice?

Posted by Marshall Swenson

Evidence-based practice, evidence-informed practice, practice-based evidence . . . to the average Joe, these all sound so much the same that most folks just quit listening and do what is easiest. I am referring to how communities decide which services we deliver to children and families and how they determine whether something actually works, or more importantly, does not. If the information was clear and better options available, wouldn’t most people choose what works and stop choosing what does not? Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case. 

Full disclosure first. I work for one of the top evidence-based practices in the United States (and 14 other countries)—Multisystemic Therapy (MST). Some might ask, doesn’t that skew my perceptions? To which I would answer, maybe, but it also gives me an inside look at the problems and solutions offered by these treatments. I see close up their efficacy. I see them work. And that’s what this article is all about.

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Topics: Blueprints for healthy families, Blueprints

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