I recently read another of the blogs posted by “Rider for Change” James Encinas called “In Covington, Louisiana – a Juvenile Detention Center that preserves the dignity of the kids that they serve and helps us to recover a precious resource.” I really want to meet Tom Jarlock! What a terrific example of compassion, smarts, bravery and leadership he is. And to think that James just dropped in while taking a break from the bike ride (not, I believe, a coincidence), and Tom Jarlock made the time to share with him, just like that. Aside from this wonderful serendipity, so many things about James’ observations resonated with me:
- the power of reframing, both in terms of how one understands the behavior of the young people in detention, i.e., “what we are really seeing is their solutions” not, as others’ see, their problems;
- ensuring that detention is not another “adverse childhood event” but the opportunity to “recover the child as a resource” by making sure that whatever they do they “preserve the dignity of the youth they ‘shepherd’” all very different ways of viewing youth in detention and the jobs of those entrusted with caring for them.
- the choice to lead compassionately, even when it is unpopular or even denigrated by powerful forces to the contrary;
- the attention to learning and adapting good practices, and ensuring that the staff have the capacity and desire to develop their capacity to use that practice.
I could go on, but let me just say how inspired I was, and how the post really conveys well what is special and important about the Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center in Covington, Louisiana. The reframing that helped the administration at the detention center see how youth who are struggling make decisions given their circumstances that seem like the best solutions at the time. Seeing detention centers as “adverse childhood events” that compound the trauma these youth are already experiencing, and seeing their roles as respectfully “shepherding” the youth and teaching them to recognize the trade-offs inherent in any decision they might have to make: trade-offs that mean emphasizing one critical aspect of life at the expense of another. The consideration of trade-offs is an essential component of the way we at The Full Frame Initiative understand how all of us, these youth included, attempt to “simultaneously optimize” our lives in Five Domains of Wellbeing: mastery, safety, stability, social connectedness and meaningful access to relevant resources. Sometimes desperately trying to have one means losing what we need in another (e.g., hanging-out with dangerous friends because one feels unloved and unwanted at home). Being able to see that universal effort to get needs met in the Five Domains of Wellbeing, even when the decisions lead to a detention center, is the first important step to the compassion required truly to support someone in need. Clearly Tom Jarlock and the rest of the staff at that detention center in Florida are full of compassion and it is making a big difference in the lives of young people.
Appreciate the uplift, James!
Audrey Jordan is FFI’s Director of Community Engagement and Evaluation. She has been “shadow blogging” FFI ally James Encinas, who is on a bicycle “Ride for Change” across the country to help bring awareness to and gather support for Trauma Informed Care Services and Solutions. Audrey and James are collaborating to learn more about how FFI’s Five Domains of Wellbeing are translated by people who are sharing their stories of hope and healing. You can follow James via ACES Connection.