Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Wayne County Juvenile Justice Success Story

Great things are happening in Wayne County and it isn’t just the fall semester starting at the College of Wooster.

There’s a celebrated collaboration that takes place within Wayne County’s juvenile court system and the county agencies committed to protect children and their families.

“It’s really about coming together,” said Deanna Nichols-Stika, the Executive Director of Wayne County Children Services. “Problem solving issues and challenges of moving a case through the juvenile court process.”

Wayne County Children Services works well with community partners including Family and Children First, the mental health and recovery board, and the juvenile and probate court system.

“We don’t just go with the status quo of what other courts are doing or what other agencies are doing,” said Judge Latecia Wiles, who is a Juvenile and Probate Court Judge.

It starts with holding weekly, monthly, and quarterly meetings to make sure all of these partners are on the same page.

They compare it with a kitchen table metaphor, meaning coming together to get work done.

“It’s really easy to get busy,” said Cameron Maneese, with Wayne County’s Family and Children First. “I tend to liken it to the family. How many times did you get to the end of the day and say I didn’t see anybody. Are they even home?”

They prioritize their checklist, depending on what’s the most urgent need.¬†For example, if a child needs to be placed outside the home late at night on a Friday, these groups come together.

“It’s almost motivational problem solving,” said Judy Wortham-Wood, with Wayne County’s Mental and Recovery Board. “It’s when one group has a problem, the other group hears about it and we come together. For me, I never feel alone.”

So what makes them successful? And what advice do these colleagues give to juvenile justice and children welfare partners statewide?

“I think they need to be invested, said Judge Wiles. “They need to be willing to be creative in finding solutions.”

Additionally, knowing that mistakes will be made and learning from them.

“So when one of us comes up with a concern, it’s not about the “you aren’t doing your job conversation,” it’s about hey, this happened, this is how it’s impacted us as an organization and how we can eliminate it from happening in the future,” said Nichols-Stika.