Lessons Learned in Implementing the First Four Tribal Wellness 2010. 7. 20.¢  Lessons Learned in Implementing

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  • The author(s) shown below used Federal funds provided by the U.S. Department of Justice and prepared the following final report: Document Title: Lessons Learned in Implementing the First Four

    Tribal Wellness Courts Author: Karen Gottlieb, Ph.D., J.D. Document No.: 221168

    Date Received: June 2010 Award Number: 2001-DC-BX-0500 This report has not been published by the U.S. Department of Justice. To provide better customer service, NCJRS has made this Federally- funded grant final report available electronically in addition to traditional paper copies.

    Opinions or points of view expressed are those

    of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S.

    Department of Justice.

  • Lessons Learned in Implementing the First Four Tribal Wellness Courts

    December 30, 2005

    Principal Investigator:

    Karen Gottlieb, PhD, JD

    Court Consultant

    gottlieb@courtconsultant.com

    Project Team:

    Carol Deck, JD

    Christine Duclos PhD, MPH

    Stephen Koester, PhD

    Hon. Jill E. Tompkins

    Grant # 2001-DC-BX-0500

  • Lessons Learned in Implementing Tribal Wellness Courts

    i

    TABLE OF CONTENTS Page

    Introduction................................................................................................................................... 1

    Lesson Learned #1 - Develop a Strong Structure for the Wellness Court Team .......................... 2

    Lesson Learned #2 - Use the Informed Consent Model for Wellness Court Admittance............. 6

    Lesson Learned #3 - Assess Readiness for Change in Potential Participants ............................. 13

    Lesson Learned #4 - Integrate Culture, not Religion, into the Wellness Court .......................... 20

    Lesson Learned #5 - Monitor During Times When Illegal Acts are Likely to Occur................. 25

    Lesson Learned #6 - Reward Positive Behaviors........................................................................ 30

    Lesson Learned #7 - Choose a Wellness Court Judge Who Can Be Both a Leader

    and a Team Player................................................................................... 36

    Lessons Learned #8 - Collect Automated Wellness Court Information Systematically

    from Day One.......................................................................................... 41

    Lesson Learned #9 - Develop a Written Curriculum for Wellness Court Staff.......................... 47

    Lesson Learned #10 - Emphasize Early Outreach within the Community ................................. 52

  • Lessons Learned in Implementing the First Four Tribal Wellness Courts

    1

    Introduction

    The following Lessons Learned are culled from the experiences of the first four tribal

    wellness courts: the Hualapai in Peach Springs, Arizona who had both juvenile and adult

    wellness courts, the Blackfeet in Browning, Montana who had an adult wellness court, the Fort

    Peck reservation in Poplar, Montana who had a juvenile wellness court, and the Poarch Creek in

    Atmore, Alabama who have an adult wellness court. These tribal wellness courts had unique

    experiences in planning and implementing their wellness court, but they also exhibited a similar

    pattern of strengths and weaknesses. Other tribes can learn from their experiences and hopefully

    not repeat the same mistakes if they have forewarning of pitfalls lying ahead.

    Each Lesson Learned is paired with one of the ten key components from Tribal Healing

    to Wellness Courts: The Key Components. i The Key Components describe the basic elements

    that define tribal drug courts (also known as tribal healing to wellness courts or wellness courts)

    and are adapted from the key components for state drug courts. The Key Components are meant

    to be aspirational and not intended as a checklist, but they do address the major components of

    wellness courts and suggest recommended practices acknowledging they may or may not be

    feasible for a particular tribe. The Lessons Learned highlight challenges in implementing the

    recommended practices and suggest approaches to surmount the challenges.

  • Lessons Learned in Implementing the First Four Tribal Wellness Courts

    2

    #1 - Develop a Strong Structure for the Wellness Court Team

    Key Component #1: Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts bring together community

    healing resources with the tribal justice process, using a team approach to

    achieve the physical and spiritual healing of the participant and the well being of

    the community.

    This key component focuses on the importance of the team in the success of wellness

    court planning and implementation. Ideally, the wellness court team is composed of

    representatives from across the reservation, including tribal elders and others who embody

    traditional values. The team members must put aside any feelings of territoriality and

    collaborate as a team to integrate their respective skills and backgrounds to achieve a holistic

    approach to treating participants who have substance abuse problems. Regular communication

    among the team members is crucial as well as stability of the core team.

    It bodes well for the success of a wellness court if the core planning and implementation

    team members remain with the program long enough to ensure the wellness court becomes

    institutionalized. All four wellness courts did an excellent job in forming their original team, but

    people in the three courts with significant turnover recognized team membership changes

    damaged the structural integrity of the wellness court.

    I think one of our problems is that there has been a change of hands so many times,

    you know, different people getting involved with the drug court. I believe only one

    person sitting here has been involved from Day One. - Team Member

    Like when we would go to the different trainings, each one of the other reservations, we’d

    be lucky if there was one or two people from the same tribe again that we would see.

    You need the continuity of a group once you get a group, you need that to stay.

  • Lessons Learned in Implementing the First Four Tribal Wellness Courts

    3

    [A school representative stopped coming], I think it was last year, one of the guys that

    worked at the school, he moved on to another program and it kinda got lost. They

    didn’t really designate one person. - Team Member

    The communication from all the team members was good from the beginning, all the

    team members that were on there showed up. . . . It’s not that good this time. . . . Not

    all the members showed up. Usually don’t show up. . . . I don’t know what it is, but

    they don’t show up regularly. Some of them just go from one job to another. - Team

    Member

    The strong point was the beginning of the program where everyone was gung-ho and

    willing to say “Yes, we can do it, we will work together,” the team effort, it was really,

    really strong and it was positive and a lot of the programs participated in the team.

    There was also change in those programs, and the members that are basically told to

    be [at the wellness court staffing meeting] weren’t involved in the beginning, and I

    think that’s where the relationship went down, . . . and sometimes they’re just told, “Go,

    the other person can’t go,” and they’re not really I guess introduced into it and the

    process. - Community Member

    Staff turnover is a fact of life, especially in tribal communities. People change jobs and

    when the new person comes on board he or she may not realize the importance of attending the

    wellness court staffing meeting.

    [The concern I have is] accountability from the other departments I think. I think that we

    have good programs here in our departments, but it’s just that, it’s because of more

    turnover also, but I think that accountability for each department needs to be

    emphasized by our leaders, directors. And communicating to each other and

    understanding each other’s programs and how we’re going to eliminate our social

    problems throughout our nation. - Team Member

  • Lessons Learned in Implementing the First Four Tribal Wellness Courts

    4

    The answer to this predicament is to develop a strong structure for the wellness court that

    is based on well-defined positions rather than on specific people. Written policies and

    procedures, such as interagency agreements that survive membership changes, are crucial to the

    success of a wellness court. A formal agreement between agencies, such as a Memorandum of

    Understanding (MOU) or Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), that details the responsibilities of

    team members from various agencies ensures the continuance of the wellness court.

    The lesson learned here is that you have to keep the same staff. And if you can’t, and all

    tribes have turnover, have a policy and procedures of each role specific on what their

    role is, so a person can come in and just pick up. - Team Member

    And doing an MOA, it’s so important, or some type of a qualified service agreement with

    the other agencies to say, because people leave, people come and go, and sometimes