Shay Bilchik – Making a Difference Through Inspired Leadership

On May 18th, at Fedcap’s Spring Cocktail Party, we are honored to be presenting the Amalia Betzanos Award to Shay Bilchik, the founder and Director of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy.  Amalia Betanzos, an iconic figure in New York City was the founder of Wildcat Services Corp. – a subsidiary of Fedcap—and a longtime, powerful advocate for helping people with criminal backgrounds get that all important second chance.

Mr. Bilchik is a lifelong and tireless visionary and pioneer, promoting a researched and multi-systems approach to addressing the needs of young people involved in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

Mr. Bilchik’s remarkable work has been focused on creating a comprehensive model that unites policies, data, and best practices among all those who are involved with juvenile justice. His is a reform agenda with a particular focus on the needs of young people who have been involved with both the child welfare system because of abuse or neglect, and the juvenile justice system, based on instances of delinquent behavior. These young people, dually involved, are referred to as “crossover youth.”

For years, the child welfare system and the juvenile justice systems worked in solos, which meant that when a young person “crossed over” from one system there was little to no coordination of services and supports.

Under the leadership of Shay Bilchik, The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform established a model, called the Crossover Youth Practice Model (CYPM), to unite in common language, goals, principles and practice the work of the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

The principles of the CYPM are rooted in a strengths-based approach—calling for the best practices and aspirations of the systems, practitioners, the youth and their families. Additionally, the model calls for data-driven decision making by integrating information across systems as well as ensuring that all involved—from leadership to case workers—are well-trained and will ultimately serve as equitable partners united in their goal of improving the outcomes of the youth being served. The Crossover Youth Practice Model is working; it has been integrated into hundreds of jurisdictions across the country and the outcomes for crossover youth are significantly improving.

In the weeks to come, I will be highlighting many of the successes of the CYPM as well as and asking for your feedback and thinking about ways to continuously raise awareness and find solutions to prevent young people in the child welfare system from “crossing over”.

In the meantime, I am heralding the remarkable leadership of Shay Bilchik. His is the type of collaborative, team-based, innovative thinking and hard work that makes change in institutionalized systems possible. He is a champion in our field—and reminds me every day that the work we do to improve lives is possible.

He inspires us all to remember that we can make a difference, we can imagine what is possible and we can implement the strategy, systems, structure, and vision to improve not only the lives of those we serve, but society at large.

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