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Care First Cuyahoga Initiative to Support Youth Success

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Media Contacts:
Kelly Woodard: (216)250-6146,
Bridget Gibbons: (216) 443-5938,


The Juvenile Justice Continuum seeks to break the cycle of youth involvement in the justice system

CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OH - It’s a groundbreaking effort to reshape the juvenile justice system.

The Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court, in partnership with the Cuyahoga County Office of Reentry, Third Sector Capital Partners, Inc., and Case Western Reserve University, received a $450,000 grant to design a continuum of care to divert youth from the juvenile justice system into community-based alternatives. The initiative, Care First Cuyahoga, will focus on early intervention and prevention strategies to address the root causes of youth involvement in the justice system.

“Cuyahoga County prioritizes the well-being and success of our youth,” said Cuyahoga County Executive Chris Ronayne. “With this grant, Care First Cuyahoga aims to create a nurturing environment for youth, addressing their needs early and providing them with the resources and opportunities necessary for their development. This proactive approach ensures every child has a fair and equitable chance for a promising future.”

“The Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court is thrilled to announce the receipt of a grant to design a continuum of care program,” said Administrative Judge Thomas F. O’Malley. “This grant allows us to innovate and implement strategies to address factors contributing to racial disparities in the youth justice system. Care First Cuyahoga will allow the Court and other youth and family-serving partners to support families in need at the earliest point. By serving youth with necessary community support, we will create a more equitable and effective juvenile justice system.”

Care First Cuyahoga will target youth, ages 12-17, and their families involved with or at risk of involvement with the Cuyahoga County juvenile justice system. Through a collaborative effort involving Cuyahoga County and community stakeholders, the program will offer a range of community-based services, including mental health counseling, educational support, vocational training, and family therapy. This comprehensive support will equip youth with the necessary tools to thrive and stay out of the justice system, fostering an optimistic future for them and their families.

“The success of Care First Cuyahoga relies on strong partnerships with community organizations, service providers, and stakeholders. Together, we can create a supportive network that empowers youth and their families to overcome challenges and build positive futures,” remarks Simeon Best, Director of the Cuyahoga County Office of Reentry.

“Case Western Reserve University’s Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research is pleased to collaborate with the Third Sector and our community partners on the Care First Cuyahoga initiative to support youth success,” remarks David Hussey, Associate Director for Research Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education at Case Western Reserve University. “The Care First Cuyahoga initiative will support planning processes to coordinate and elevate a strong continuum of evidence-based prevention and intervention services to foster healthy youth development and divert youth from detention and custody placements. It will harness and focus the extensive community energy and expertise regarding racial equity and juvenile justice reform that has historically been siloed and fragmented. Successful planning will advance a transformative redesign of services and capacities that will yield further resources to benefit the youth and families of Cuyahoga County.”

“Ensuring our government provides well-coordinated services that meet young people’s varied needs and ends the cycle of criminalization is one of the most important and complicated challenges our nation faces. We are thrilled to develop the tools and practices for staff in government and community-based organizations to successfully implement Care First Cuyahoga across county systems and with various community members,” said Oscar Benitez, Managing Director, Diversion & Reentry for Third Sector.

View more information about the Care First Cuyahoga initiative.



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