Justice Resource Institute
Message from the
When the ﬁrst cases of COVID-19 appeared in the United States, JRI was already planning and preparing to ensure that our clients and employees had what would be needed to face the unknown challenges ahead.
We relied on new and longstanding community partners, generous donors and staff creativity to secure sufﬁcient masks, face shields, medical gowns, gloves and sanitizing products. We created mobile COVID-19 testing sites that provided 24/7 testing access, which allowed us to quickly identify, isolate and quarantine any positive cases, and help stop the spread.
We converted ofﬁce space and school space into storage not only for protective gear, but also for produce, meat, paper goods, medical supplies and other products as our country faced unprecedented shortages and didn’t want to experience any gaps for the clients we serve. Over the course of a single weekend, our day schools and clinical programs created new systems for remote learning and telehealth services. We worked closely with our state partners to share resources and shape policy as we adapted and responded to the rapidly changing environment
The federal response to the pandemic was initially limited–which made everything much harder. Our state partners were thus on their own, but as Andy noted “I have never seen state government move as fast, and as effectively as they did in the early days of the pandemic.” MA, RI and CT were all ﬂexible and supportive.
At JRI, our approach was: “Here are some solutions to the problems, help us get it done”. And they did. For example, in three weeks, we proposed, designed, set up, and opened the ﬁrst COVID positive unit for youth in Mass–with the Commonwealth setting up a contract for this new service in record time.
And we shared what we learned: We created our own COVID-19 playbook and trained DCF and other nonproﬁts in our new COVID-19 policies and procedures, as we became experts in translating CDC guidance into practice.
In December 2020, we began the process to create the JRI Vaccine program and by March 2021 had FULLY vaccinated over 2,000 staff and clients.
Andy Pond, President and CEO, said the response was “100 percent tied to racial justice” and JRI’s social justice mission because it meant getting effective and timely COVID care to Black and Latinx populations disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
Annette Keegan, Fiscal Coordinator, and her sister-in-law, Sharon Bird, take over the dining room table while sewing handmade masks for staff.
Staff with sewing skills mass produced beautiful handmade masks with filters for our front line staff.
We stocked up on protective gear, testing kits, food and other essentials supplies.
But medical equipment was not all that we needed. With store shelves emptying, grocers imposing purchase limits, and food delivery trucks canceling we had to quickly ﬁnd a reliable way to feed the hundreds of children, adolescents, adult and staff in our group living programs. We quickly and creatively established new steady supplies of food and other essential goods and then improvised a warehouse complete with freezers and refrigerators in regional ofﬁce space in Fall River and Acton MA.
Joe Pfeifer, Chief Property Ofﬁcer, built a state-of-the-art quarantine unit at Berkshire Meadows for this vulnerable population with complex medical issues.
Given these unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic, JRI took impressive steps to implement safety protocols to prevent the spread of the virus, including air ﬁlters, hand sanitizer stations, the quarantining of residences, wearing masks, and the maintenance of temperature logs. Within three hours, Berkshire Meadows School, which serves persons with complex medical issues, quickly transformed building space into a COVID-19 isolation unit that features negative air pressure and plastic walls. Staff members are recognized for tirelessly working to keep the persons served safe and calm during the pandemic.
~ from JRI’s CARF Accreditation Report
Switching to telehealth and remote learning
Our Information technology experts were heroic in their efforts to quickly create a new virtual system of care, last winter when COVID-19 halted our ability to deliver most services in person.
Program RISE, with funding from the Department of Public Health, is providing the COVID-19 vaccine clients and staff of shelters in the Metrowest. This is a critical part of ensuring vaccines are delivered to high risk populations that often lack access to healthcare. JRI’s mobile health van is being used to get the vaccine into the community. Pictured are staff Patti Parker, Wendy Wheland, Iris Angelo, Gene Hurtado and Izzy Rivera.
All of us had to learn to deliver essential services — including counseling and therapy — virtually. This was essential in assuring continuity of excellence in care to our clients and families with the barriers and restrictions on in-person meetings. The success of this model has resulted in the states’ public health ofﬁcials authorizing its continuation for medical and behavioral health care.
Throughout the pandemic, JRI’s Community Based services Programs worked tirelessly to both balance the need to provide critical, often lifesaving, behavioral health, trauma intervention and crisis services; while working to minimize risk to persons served and the staff providing these essential services. Because the effects of COVID -19 have varied among individuals, staff, persons and communities served, our systems needed to remain to be flexible, offering both in-person and telehealth approaches that were informed by state and federal guidance. We are proud that we saw little interruption in care as we prioritized family voice and choice through the process of determining safe, individualized approaches with each family and person served,” said Jenn Miguel, executive vice president who oversees JRI’s community based services division.
JRI staff accompanied state personnel to deliver vaccines to people staying at homeless shelters, and JRI nursing staff joined a mobile testing unit to help identify people who were ill and in need of treatment.
Left: Jenese Brownhill, Division Director of Juvenile Justice Services, receives her COVID-19 vaccine. Center: Kari Beserra, Executive Vice President, and Dr. Kerry-Ann Williams, Child Psychiatrist and Medical Director of Children’s Residential Programs, work at the vaccine clinic. Right: Ana Tavarez, Outreach Worker at Rediscovery gives two thumbs after receiving her COVID-19 vaccine.
With the COVID-19 vaccine being difﬁcult to come by in the early months, our team worked tirelessly to coordinate vaccine clinics throughout the agency, granting vaccine access to thousands of employees and clients.
We were overwhelmed by the kindness that emerged within our JRI community and we continue to be guided by our mission-by principles of partnership and our commitment to social justice. Doing something to give back helped brighten a dark time. In the powerful words of Fred Rogers, “Look for the helpers. You will always ﬁnd people who are helping.” Our teams came forward to adopt our milieu based programs to show them extra support and appreciation during this time as they care for our clients.
For Corey, the decision to step up and pick up shifts in the programs was an easy one. “I’m lucky to not be at heightened risk for COVID-19 infection or complications and I’m not caring for anyone at home. My regular job responsibilities can all be handled remotely,” Prachniak-Rincón said. “I don’t get a lot of opportunities to work directly with youth, so for me it was a great opportunity to learn and grow and have an experience I would not otherwise have had.”
“Our staff never stopped coming to work,” said Kari Beserra, executive vice president who oversees JRI’s Massachusetts residential and group home programs.
JRI employees set up a JRI Connection Team that made and delivered care packages for their coworkers in the ﬁrst weeks of the pandemic. They sent items such as cards, poems, snacks and blankets to weary colleagues in JRI’s residential programs. Employees who lived alone volunteered to work at residential programs, standing in for coworkers who were sick or caring for someone sick at home. Some staff members even moved out of their homes to join a mobile COVID response team.
It was not only staff who were heroic. Foster parents said yes again and again when a call came in the middle of the night about a sick child in need off a place to stay.
“JRI has always been an agile company, but nothing like this before,” said CEO Andy Pond.
COVID-19 has produced lasting gains in efﬁciency as the organization learned to deliver services remotely — and effectively — where appropriate. It also fostered new connections among JRI’s programs, as employees continue to support each other though the JRI Connection Team.
“We switched from in-person service to virtual…in a weekend,” said Beserra. “A lot of us were up in the middle of the night, researching how to do things safely. We did it. We got through this.”
We serve those who are temporarily homeless or precariously housed, suffer from addiction, have developmental differences, or are coping with emotional or physical trauma at rates far higher than in the general population. No aspect of our work is immune from the challenge of racial equity and inclusion. That is why we train everyone who works at our 120+ programs in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut to work with diverse populations. And that is why we are committed to building a team of caregivers who reflect the clients they serve, including those with lived experience in the challenges our clients face.
We asked about systemic racism
As a social service agency devoted to social justice, we must do more than talk about racism, diversity and inclusion.
Because our clients increasingly are Black and Latinx, JRI staff members must understand what those clients are up against economically, culturally and politically if we are to fulfill our organization’s mission to further social justice. Finally, we are committed to hiring and promoting employees of color so that our employee roster will best be able to serve populations who struggle to overcome the many obstacles that result from systemic racism.
– Larry Day, Co-Organizer of
the Black Affinity Group
are not new
In 2016, we began a grassroots analysis of the challenges, and the following year CEO Andy Pond formed an internal Diversity Advisory Group that includes frontline staffers, managers, administrative staff, and senior leadership.
The Diversity Advisory Group drafted a Cultural Responsiveness Implementation Plan which identified 65 specific actions that would support JRI’s commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion, including supporting staff reimbursement for those taking English as a Second Language, translating paperwork into multiple languages, training recruiters in hiring people of color, and adapting our training materials to reflect our values of cultural diversity and inclusion, among others. Then we established a subcommittee of the Governing Body to operationalize these actions, set timelines, and establish processes to ensure we meet our goals.
Meanwhile, Black employees took the initiative to form a Black Affinity Group that meets regularly to discuss Black experiences within the agency. While it is an informal group formed by and for staff members, it brings feedback and suggestions to leadership.
In 2020, JRI furthered our commitment to racial justice within the agency and its programs. We hired a quality assurance specialist to help ensure that JRI staff has the support they need to address issues of racism, diversity and inclusiveness in a manner consistent with our goals and values.
“Racial justice is everyone’s responsibility at JRI,” said Dani Silcox, Vice President in the finance department who also serves as the Co-Chairperson of the Governing Body Diversity Inclusion Subcommittee. “Everyone at JRI is accountable for racial justice, every day.”
Like everything we do, training is central to our social justice mission.
Training a workforce to serve a diverse world
When a new employee joins JRI or one of our more than 100 programs, they need to know that we will offer them training in every facet of their job. Whether they are an entry-level employee with a high school diploma, have just completed college and are working in a residential school or are a 20-year employee managing a program assisting abused children and their families, they can count on support through our training and education program. Our trainings help employees serve our clients better by understanding the latest research and learning self-care techniques to address the secondary trauma that can occur when caring for clients traumatized by violence or neglect.
Much of that training happens in the workplace for JRI employees, but we also have a string of partnerships with regional institutions of higher learning so that our staff can grow in their current jobs while building up the skills and knowledge — and academic credentials — to take on new responsibilities. That means an employee can get an associate’s degree at Massachusetts Bay Community College while continuing to work, then enroll at William James College or Boston University for their bachelor’s degree and then work toward a master’s degree at Bridgewater State University. The cost of the degree is divided among JRI, the college or university, and the employee.
Education is the key to earning promotions and higher pay, as well as greater responsibilities that come with management positions. By providing access to education, we are also ensuring a path to advancement for employees — often people of color — who were previously denied the opportunity of a college education.
“If we are committed to social justice, we have to be committed to creating a pathway for people of color to become leaders at JRI or some other organization,” said Andy Pond, CEO at JRI.
Like everything we do, training is central to our social justice mission.
She works with young victims of abuse, sex traffickiing and other traumas. A single mother who works full time, Morris said she was thrilled at the opportunity to complete her education, but uneasy about entering the classroom again after decades away. Support from JRI and William James College was key to achieving her goal and becoming effective in working with her clients. “If I didn’t get what I got from William James College, I would not have been able to handle the cases I’m handling now,” she said. “ To those thinking about going back to school, if you’re second guessing yourself, don’t. Take that career path, take that step, and do it.”
“I am most proud of serving as an Equity partner with JRI where I get to witness the real action taking place as we develop supportive communities and bridge trust to build relationships and interconnectedness within the organization while enforcing access and opportunity to staff. JRI has created: Diversity advisory groups, cultural therapy, black affinity groups, anti-racism learning, racial healing conversations, racial justice action plans and a Racial Justice Central with tools, resources, information and space to hold internal candid reflections on real world events. Knowing that their greatest assets are their employees, JRI President Andy Pond and leadership recommit to their roles and hold themselves and each other accountable in each step. JRI is absolutely breaking through and models an inclusive culture that embraces growth opportunity, healing and belonging. What the world is experiencing still needs to be addressed and JRI is revealing, addressing, and taking action to impact our communities every day.
Inclusive Strategies is dedicated to creating meaningful social change, with a human-centered, racial healing approach, addressing systemic racism for equitable environments, and communities. It has been an honor to co-create this model of Elevating Racial Justice & Healing with JRI.”
~ Waleska Lugo-DeJesús, CEO of Inclusive Strategies
JRI is proud to be named one of the Top Ten Companies in all of Massachusetts when it comes to diversity and inclusion. This list was drawn from scores of companies of all sizes and types who were surveyed in 2020. Being on this list is a reflection of the work we are doing, at all levels of JRI. There is still more work to be done, and we pledge to stay engaged and work even harder–but this is truly a cause for celebration. Read the article.
We want our employees to think of their work at JRI as a career, not just a job. We encourage them to take every opportunity to grow.
We also continued with our Futures and Leadership groups this past year. These are professional development groups for staff who have either been identified by their supervisors as long-term employees and future leaders or who already have some experience as a leader. These groups are provided with support, networking opportunities, problem solving techniques and leadership skills. Since 2017, nearly two hundred employees have graduated from these groups. This past year, there was a tremendous amount of interest in Futures with the number of participants doubling from the prior year.
That is in addition to a robust list of workshops and trainings that were held virtually, including everything from understanding the impact of trauma on students and clients to self-care for caregivers, as well as trauma-informed leadership training. JRI also expanded our partnerships with colleges and universities, and saw our first employees graduate from William James College’s bachelor’s program.
“I enjoyed the special opportunity to work with Tara Sagor, who was my mentor. I especially appreciated that she was a person who heard my ideas and related to my interest in trauma work. Moreover, she helped me explore other programs within JRI for support and raised the possibility of furthering my interests in work and education. She also helped me look into an advanced degree at Williams James College, Simmons and BU. I am grateful not just for Tara, but also for JRI for providing endless opportunities for staff.”
– Sivaing Suos, Mentee and Case Manager
in JRI’s Community-Based Services Division
“I joined the Leadership program for the 2017-2018 class after discussing it with my supervisor at the time, John Lynch. I was working as the Program Director for Integrated Clinical Services in Rhode Island and had mentioned feeling removed from the larger agency as I was running a small program in another state, and didn’t have much interaction with other JRI programs. During my time in leadership I realized I was very interested in working on a more macro level and having a greater connection to JRI. I was encouraged to get a mentor, Sue Ellis, and we spent a lot of time discussing non-traditional paths to advancement within the agency. I kept an eye open for opportunities and was really excited to see one within the training department as I felt it was a good way to meet my desire to work on a more macro level, grow within the agency, and utilize my teaching skills. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the person I was interviewing with was Tara Sagor, as she was in charge of my Leadership group and I felt like we already had a comfort and familiarity with each other. I was enthused to get the position and I ended my year of leadership with a new position in the Corporate Training Department!”
– Deborah Jackson, Leadership Graduate and
Clinical Training and Development Specialist
We partner with colleges
“I’ve been with JRI for almost three years. I began working as a Residential Counselor at Meadowridge Academy. I’ve been in my current position as a Therapeutic Counselor at New Bedford TAP for two years. I was researching graduate programs for almost a year before speaking with my Program Director who attended Bridgewater State. After speaking with her and attending the BSU open-house at JRI corporate office, I ultimately made the decision to apply to this program. I’m looking forward to gaining the skills I need to accomplish all of my professional goals which include transitioning to one of JRI’s DYS programs after graduation. For anyone considering furthering their education, my number one recommendation would be to reach out to people in the agency who are currently enrolled in or completed a graduate program. You can only learn so much from reading about programs online so it’s super helpful to gain insight from others!”
– Marah Iadonisi, Therapeutic Counselor,
New Bedford TAP
When people come to work at JRI, they have opportunities for advancement at every stage of their professional lives. That means helping them acquire new skills so they can shoulder new responsibilities, as JRI helps build the social justice workforce of the future. We partner with MassBay Community College for employees who need an associate’s degree, and we partner with several colleges and universities for employees looking to finish their bachelor’s or master’s degree. JRI and the school provide financial support as well as academic support and mentoring.
In 2020, four JRI employees graduated from William James College with a bachelor of science in psychology and human services, in making up half the graduating class, with one student planning to go on for her master’s.
In addition, JRI expanded its partnership with Bridgewater State University to include a master of social work. Employees interested in a master’s degree can also choose from Temple University, Simmons School of Social Work, Framingham State University, William James College, Boston University and Regis College.
When employees enroll in an educational program, JRI offers the support they need to complete their degree while meeting their work and family obligations. That help can take the form of talking through an assignment, enabling time away from work or helping understand and ease the burden of financial commitments.
Everyone who works at JRI can count on in-house training throughout their career. We train our entire team on topics including racism, diversity and inclusion so that we can better serve our more than 30,000 clients and their families — many of them from diverse backgrounds — in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
Because many of our clients have experienced severe trauma due to sexual violence, neglect, addiction and homelessness — which often affects clinical outcomes — we train our staff of more than 2,800 to practice trauma-informed therapies that give our clients the best chance of recovery. This client-centered approach helps our team deliver therapies without re-exposing clients to traumatic experiences. In addition, we train staff who work with those employees essential self-care techniques that help them deliver essential care while protecting themselves from secondary trauma.
Research measures which
trauma treatments work best
The graph above reflects findings from an analysis of 548 treatment-seeking youth from 13 trauma-informed, residential and group care programs at JRI (56.8% female; M age=15.84; 17.7% Hispanic/Latinx; 48.9% White, 15.3% Black/African-American, 14.6%biracial/Multiracial, 1.1% Asian) examining change in symptoms of posttraumatic stress over a two-year period. The UCLA PTSD Reaction Index-5 (PTSD-RI; Pynoos & Steinberb, 2013), a well-validated self-report questionnaire that assesses DSM-V PTSD symptoms was used to assess change in PTSD symptom severity during treatment. Growth curve modeling demonstrated that youth showed a statistically and clinically significant decrease in posttraumatic stress – the average decrease in PTSD-RI score was 13.92 (p<.001), showing a moderate to large effect size in the expected direction (d=-.70). Citation: Hodfdon, H>B., Lord, K., Suvak, M., Briggs, E.C., Martin, L., &
Beserra, K. (November, 2019). Trajectories of symptom change among polyvictimized youth in residential care. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS), Boston, MA
JRI is dedicated to improving client outcomes and advancing the field of trauma-informed care nationally through research and training.
“Caring for children and families means always asking questions about what interventions work best and how,” said Hilary Hodgdon, PhD, director of research for JRI. “The goal is to advance trauma-informed care and improve access for children and families.”
JRI is leading two federally funded projects as part of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN), a network of 117 institutions across the United States dedicated to raising the standard of care and increasing access to services for children and families who experience trauma and adversity.
One project, the Complex Trauma Treatment Network, is bringing the attachment regulation and competency (ARC) model of care developed by Kristine Kinniburgh and Margaret E. Blaustein to residential treatment programs in 6 states and US territories, as far away as Alaska and Puerto Rico. The project is a collaboration with Suffolk University and the Adelphi University School of Social Work, which is offering training in its SPARCS (Structured Psychotherapy for Adolescents Responding to Chronic Stress) model to juvenile justice settings.
A complementary grant, the Metro Boston Complex Trauma Treatment Initiative, supports work with JRI programs in Massachusetts and Conneticut. A team of highly trained clinicians offers extra services and therapy to clients, as well as consultation with the treatment team and parent training.
JRI continues to track client treatment and outcomes with its Client Assessment Tracking System (CATS), which has amassed data on thousands of clients since it was established in 2008. It provides the raw data that enables researchers and clinicians to examine how well treatments work.
“We are interested in what interventions work best, under what conditions, and for whom,” Hodgdon said. “We use the same methods as academics, but our goals are quite a bit different. The clinical information is meant to be used and applied by practitioners.”
One research project using data from CATS, which is just wrapping up, examined response to treatment over a two-year period among clients in JRI’s residential, group home and IRTP programs. The findings from this project have been presented at a national conference on traumatic stress and are currently being prepared for publication.
The CATS data also enables Hodgdon and her team to ask more basic science questions, such as how trauma affects child development, how it relates to racial disparities and how it intersects with the juvenile justice system.
Finally, through a grant from the Lookout Foundation, Hodgdon’s team is also conducting a randomized control trial, the gold standard of treatment outcome research, of the Attachment Regulation and Competency (ARC) framework. This four year study, which compares how children and adolescents respond to six months of ARC treatment compared to more traditional care provided across three community mental health clinics, is the first of its kind and will contribute to a growing scientific evidence base of the ARC intervention.
‘Justice In Action,’
a podcast series
In an effort to continue our work to lead social justice, we started a series of podcasts, called “Justice In Action,” that features interviews with JRI employees about some of their work: mental health care for people of color, our equine therapy program, online sexual exploitation, trauma-informed yoga, and a host of other programs serving clients. We wanted to find new and better ways to showcase the topics that matter in the advancement of social justice and share what we have learned so we can help others. Each podcast runs from 30 to 45 minutes and is available for listening on a range of podcast platforms for therapists, case workers, clinicians and other specialists, as well as the general public looking for answers to their questions about themselves or their loved ones. You can find a link to the ‘Justice In Action’ podcast series by clicking HERE
TOTAL CLIENTS SERVED
[OVER 30,000 WHEN YOU INCLUDE THE CLIENTS’ FAMILIES WHO ARE ALSO SERVED]
NUMBER OF CLIENTS SERVED
CONTRIBUTED 14,399 HOURS OF SERVICE,
VALUED AT $316,778
JRI Board of
|Board Vice Chairperson
|Robert J. Guttentag
(Honorary Board Member)