To help make The SPIRIT Project the best it can be we have spent countless hours in courtrooms across the nation observing processes and how SPIRIT might help improve on existing practices. There were several reoccurring issues that we encountered with the youth referral process.
As a youth comes in front of a judge or hearing master that individual often shares the situation of his or her case. The judge or hearing master, often with the recommendation of the court staff then make a recommendation out to a service provider, rehabilitation center or other agency.
In multiple situations the team at The SPIRIT Project witnessed a youth being referred to a service provider that was either:
1) No longer in business due to a funding cut
2) At full capacity, not accepting any new referrals
3) Dozens of miles away from the youth’s place of residence
Through no fault of the courts, judges and the court staff this youth was setup to fail the sentenced assignment due to the fact that the data in the hands of the referring individual was inaccurate or incomplete.
Using the SPIRIT Project System a judge on a bench or court staff can, even prior to the case being heard, enter in the youth’s risk factors, interests, age, race, gender and location of residence and be immediately given referral options with the best match.
1) Any service provider in the system is REQUIRED to keep their information up to date. If a referral is made and not accepted that service provider will become locked until they rectify the situation. This way if a frequently used service provider has shut down the system will know immediately and disallow any further referrals.
2) Capacity becomes a non-issue with the SPIRIT Project Software, each service provider with a finite capacity will enter their available “inventory” and as referrals are made the available space reduces in the system so as not to refer youth to a provider that cannot accept them. As inventory becomes available the system updates to reflect this.
3) By utilizing SPIRIT, a provider can accurately make a “best recommendation” based on the youth’s current residing location. Cutting down on the known issues with attendance through lack of transportation.
In addition to the features listed above The SPIRIT Project offers the ability to “prep” cases. A court worker can enter in all the details in advance, then put the case on hold for the judge or hearing master to approve the referrals. The time required to process a youth through the system is drastically reduced.
Youth referred to service providers are tracked in the system and the judge or hearing master can request regular updated on a specific youth in the system. Service Providers are required to make the requested updates on the dates needed so as a youth comes back into court for a mid-course “check-in” the court staff & judges will have all information needed to make an accurate assessment of that youth.