The flagship model of The Choice Program at UMBC, this program provides critical face-to-face contact, mentoring, and advocacy to young people involved in the juvenile justice system.
Choice’s partnership with the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) extends for 30 years. Choice is utilized as a community-based alternative to placement in a detention center, and also supports young people as they transition out of detention back into their communities. Choice refers to these teams as DJS Intensive Advocacy. Currently, DJS Intensive Advocacy has teams serving in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Prince George’s County and Montgomery County.
AmeriCorps Community Service Learning Fellows collaborate with youth and their families to set goals to reach their potential. Through daily contact with youth, AmeriCorps members offer role modeling and mentoring, assistance in navigating school & court systems, and referral services to meet youth and family needs. AmeriCorps members set the bar high for community and school behavior and offer behavior alternatives to continued system involvement through participation in recreational, cultural, and community service activities.
The AmeriCorps Members serve youth through:
- Connecting with youth and families through daily home visits
- Performing school visits to monitor attendance, speak with teachers, and meet with school administrators
- Organizing and leading after school, evening, and weekend activities
- Providing conflict mediation and crisis intervention
- Offering informal counseling around topics such as hygiene, sexual health, stress, parent relationships, and drug/alcohol use
- Attending juvenile or family court hearings to report on youth and family progress in the program
- Researching and making referrals to community programs such as individual or family counseling, substance abuse centers, emergency food or shelter services, or mentoring programs