Reentry Aftercare through Functional Family Parole Services
Functional Family Parole (FFP) is a family-focused reentry aftercare model that recognizes the vital role of family in helping youth reenter their communities, participate in pro-social activities, and reduce the likelihood of them re-offending. FFP is grounded in the same principles of the evidence-based Functional Family Therapy (FFT) model, which is a Blue Print Model Program and one of the most effective family interventions in Washington State.
FFP, a key component of JR’s Integrated Treatment Model, helps families improve how they work together to accomplish their goals and move beyond blaming and negative interactions. Families are taught strategies to support and reinforce the positive changes their youth has made while in a JR residential program.
FFP Counselors are trained in engagement and motivation skills that mirror those used in FFT. Although FFP is not therapy, it is a relational and strengths-focused aftercare model that helps families have a more positive experience with each other and with FFP services. FFP Counselors work to understand youth and family strengths and needs before the youth releases from JR residential programs through participating in reentry team meetings (RTM). The RTM assists the youth and family in developing a reentry plan as they prepare for the youth’s release.
FFP Counselors use the reentry plan to highlight youth and family strengths and needs and link them to a variety of services such as education, employment, FFT, behavioral health services, substance abuse programs, sex offender treatment, etc.
FFP targets small obtainable changes in the family. Such changes have the immediate effect of modifying the “problem behavior.” Additional impacts are generated later when the family applies the changes to future situations leading them in a more positive direction.
The youth signs a parole contract with their FFP Counselor that details treatment and program requirements, the days and times they meet for FFP sessions, geographic movement restrictions, and prohibited activities such as drug and/or alcohol use and possession of firearms. FFP Counselors use graduated responses if a youth violates the conditions of their parole contract. Responses include such activities as more frequent reporting-in requirements, increased family meetings, imposing a curfew, and electronic home monitoring. For repeated and serious violations, youth may be returned to a JR residential facility for up to 30 days.
FFP Counselors use a set of principles to work with youth and their families. The principles of FFP are:
- Balanced Alliance - A balanced alliance means that FFP Counselors work hard to ensure the families experience us as a neutral, not taking sides, and willing to listen and try to understand multiple perspectives.
- Relational Focus – FFP Counselors create a relational focus by using inclusive language, responding with relational and strength based statements and interrupting negativity and blame. Their goals are to change the focus from the youth to the whole family as the client and to change any negativity and blame to a more positive experience.
- Strength Based – FFP Counselors focus on both risk and protective factors, looking for strength in the behavior. They look to relabel negative behaviors and provide a different meaning for the current experience. The goal is to build hope and motivation based on trust, credibility, and identification of family strengths.
- Respect – FFP Counselors work to respect family dynamics and what each person brings to the table. They meet families in their homes, don’t judge them and ultimately work to provide an experience where they feel valued. FFP Counselors want youth and families to feel safe in having open discussions and acknowledged for their efforts in doing the best they can.
- Matching – FFP Counselors match to CLIENTS in what they say, how they say it, and when they say it. They also match to the PHASE of FFP by doing the right thing at the right time using counseling skills strategically. Lastly, they match to the OUTCOMES which are part of the reentry plan that is developed collaboratively by JR staff including the FFP Counselor, the youth and family.
Three Phases of FFP
FFP is delivered in three phases over a period of six – 24 months, depending on parole type. The three phases of FFP include:
Engagement & Motivation
The primary goal is to increase the entire family’s motivation to participate in services as well as to engage every family member in the process. Family is defined broadly as the people with whom the youth lives. The focus is on reducing blame and negativity and increasing hope.
Support & Monitor
Youth and families are matched to services in the community that increase family functioning, support skill development, and encourage positive activities. FFP Counselors also work with youth and families on generalizing the skills and behaviors that youth learned in residential settings, practicing how to apply them in their family and community. The focus in this phase is on supporting and encouraging the youth and the family, monitoring the parole contract, and keeping motivation high and negativity low.
The youth and family are coached and encouraged to implement the skills they have learned, with a focus on relapse management, using skills in other areas, and ensuring community resources and links are in place. This builds confidence in the family that they can handle a variety of situations that may come up. The FFP Counselor assists the family in finding ongoing help, support, and resources they can use after FFP ends.