We all deserve a second chance. Help us give one to a young person.
All youth in our communities have worth and value no matter their challenges and mistakes. In today’s society, there are too many youth who have fallen through the cracks because supports aren’t available.
Regenerations is part of Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois’ (LCFS) foster care program and serves youth age 12-21 who are in foster care and involved with the juvenile or criminal justice system. Youth in the program usually have engaged in gang or criminal activity that results in probation/parole requirements.
These youth have made wrong turns, but with the proper support systems in place they can get their lives back on the right track. Regenerations staff work to build relationships and supports for the youth, their identified caregivers and their families to transition the youth back to the community, strengthen stability and minimize recidivism.
“LCFS protected me in many ways, but the main way is they kept me with a place to stay. I had somewhere to go because of LCFS.” – Regenerations Youth
Regenerations received the 2019 Council on Accreditation (COA) ) Innovative Practice Award.
In the early 21st century, LCFS identified a service gap for meeting the needs of youth who were dually-involved with both the juvenile/criminal justice system and child welfare. Teens were sitting in detention facilities for up to six months after they were scheduled for release because they had nowhere to go.
After recognizing this need, LCFS embarked on a search for an appropriate model program to replicate, but none was found. Our agency culture, as a faith-based organization, wouldn’t allow us to walk away from these youth no matter what the challenges we faced in serving them. So LCFS designed Regenerations in partnership with Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), DCFS and in consultation with Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.
The model was developed based on the premise that dually-involved youth can be effectively served in home-based / family settings with appropriate services and supports provided by a team. LCFS wanted to help these youth by providing a more cost-effective solution and break a cycle of institutionalization.
Regenerations’ overall goal is to develop a strong support network for the individuals (and their families) to assist them in being contributing, stable members of their communities long after LCFS involvement has ended.
Objectives to meet this goal include:
- Reduce the period of time from release date to placement
- Increase placement with a safe and nurturing family or family-like environment
- Provide alternatives to residential care (reduce placements in facilities)
- Build on family support
- Increase reunification with birth family members
- Reduce recidivism in the juvenile/criminal justice system
- Increase engagement in productive life activities (e.g., attending school, vocational training, employment, recreational, etc.)
- Increase sense of well-being and life focus
- Secure safety (keep them safe)
LCFS sees value in expanding the Regenerations program to serve more youth in need. The vision for expansion includes the addition of a pre-Regenerations program in order to offer youth with juvenile/criminal justice system involvement the same resources and supports without them being involved with the child welfare system. That is, meeting God’s children where they are at, at any given time, and providing them the tools to live safe and meaningful lives.
The Regenerations model begins with a collaborative plan for success and focuses on a youth’s placement with family or in a family-like setting instead of a residential facility. Staff meet with the youth prior to release from the juvenile/correctional facility to begin to build a trusting relationship, identify supports, discover individual skills and aspirations, and engage in identifying possible caregivers. If the child is unable to identify a relative or adult with whom to live, they are placed with a licensed LCFS foster family.
Once the teen is living in a safe environment, he/she is enrolled in school or vocational training. Regenerations staff arrange for intensive wraparound services (for all involved) in order to transition the youth into the community. Services may include:
- Intensive care coordination
- Mental health services
- Home and community-based services
- In-home supports to caregivers and youth
- Crisis intervention
- Access to educational and recreational activities
- Work opportunities
LCFS listens to the youth and families and adjusts services to meet their needs. The youth is also assigned an advocate. This individual builds a trusting relationship and is available 24 hours a day (as is all Regenerations staff) to both the youth and caregivers.
Regenerations is a strengths-based program that requires outside-the-box thinking and practices. The work is about building and maintaining relationships, being advocates with youth and on their behalf, and being available when and how needed. Few programs have been designed specifically to address this population’s diverse needs, but LCFS is an innovator in the field and has shown significant positive outcomes.
- Shorter wait for release: averaged 42 days Regenerations vs. 116 days Comparison Group
- Youth NOT placed into residential care: 100% Regenerations vs. 37% Comparison Group
- In the program for at least a year, experienced less than 2 placements per year: 98% Regenerations vs. 83% all Illinois DCFS youth
- 91% Regenerations youth avoided reincarceration in a state facility
Regenerations received the 2019 Council on Accreditation (COA) Innovative Practice Award.
- Regenerations Fact Sheet
- Regenerations Information Sheet
- Chapin Hall (Regenerations Partner) https://www.chapinhall.org
- Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) (Regenerations Partner) https://www2.illinois.gov/dcfs/Pages/default.aspx
- Youth Advocate Programs (YAP) (Regenerations Partner) http://www.yapinc.org
For more information on the Regenerations program, contact LCFS at LCFS_Info@lcfs.org or 708-488-5576.
“As a foster parent, LCFS gives me the support I need to give back to a child who needs my care.” – LCFS Regenerations Foster Parent
LCFS is looking for families who can provide a supportive and nurturing home to Regenerations youth. Foster parents for this program must be willing to work with adolescents and actively participate in their child and family teams.
Do you remember being a teenager and the struggles, issues and challenges you faced? Who helped you through this difficult time? If you believe in second chances and have a commitment to adolescents, we would love to have you as a foster parent. Click here for more information on becoming a foster parent. Help equip young people to make the right choices.
For more information on becoming a Regenerations foster parent, contact 800-363-LCFS or LCFS_Info@lcfs.org.