St. Louis County Family Court Receives Equality and Social Justice Award for Collaboration on Alternatives to Juvenile Detention

Expanded partnerships with schools, law enforcement and advocacy groups can help more children stay in school, on track and out of the court system

CLAYTON, MO – March 22, 2017 – The St. Louis County Family Court will receive a “What’s Right with the Region” award from FOCUS St. Louis for its commitment to improving racial equality and promoting racial justice for juveniles. The Family Court provides a wide array of legal and social support services for children and families in the metropolitan region, handling more juvenile cases than any other circuit in the state of Missouri.

The Court’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) is being recognized for its work to keep children out of the juvenile justice system, in school and in their communities, while ensuring public safety. The goals of the JDAI initiative include reducing the number of children unnecessarily held in secure detention, minimizing the number of court-involved youth who fail to appear for court hearings, and redirecting public funds toward successful reform strategies.

Working with key stakeholders throughout the St. Louis region – including police chiefs, school superintendents, social service agencies and faith-based organizations – the Court is developing strategies for preventing youth from entering the juvenile justice system. The initiative also focuses on keeping juveniles who already are involved with the Family Court from returning to court with more serious offenses.

Over the past year, the Family Court has expanded and strengthened its community partnerships, increasing access to meaningful services for hundreds of youth and families. (See attached list of community partners.) As a result of these ongoing collaborative efforts, the number of juveniles admitted to the County’s Juvenile Detention Center has dropped sharply in the past year. In addition, the average length of stay in detention has fallen as well.

“This award affirms the power of partnerships in addressing the challenges too many children confront on a daily basis – from poverty, to family instability to violent crime,” said Judge Sherry, who heads the Family Court. “Working together, we can help children stay in school, in their communities and on track.”

“As a father and a pastor, I know that any young person can make bad decisions that can get them in trouble,” said Bishop Luther Baker, President and CEO of Man of Valor, Inc., a JDAI partner organization dedicated to community empowerment in St. Louis. “But by working together with our courts, schools, communities and law enforcement, we can help prepare young adults to face and overcome the challenges that can rob them of being all they can be. We need to hold our children accountable, but we also must provide them with the guidance, education and support they need to stay on track toward a bright future.”

The “What’s Right with the Region” awards are presented annually by FOCUS St. Louis, the region’s premier leadership organization, to individuals, organizations, and initiatives making a difference. The honorees are nominated by the public and selected by a panel of community judges for their impact and service to the community.

Family Court Judges Thea Sherry and Margaret Donnelly will accept the award at the “What’s Right with the Region” awards ceremony May 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the Sheldon Concert Hall, 3648 Washington Blvd., St. Louis. Tickets to the event can be purchased at or by calling 314-622-1250.

St. Louis County Family Court – JDAI Partners

Annie E. Casey Foundation

Missouri Juvenile Justice Association
Rep. Tommie Pierson Jr., 66th District, State of Missouri

School Districts
Educational Liaison to the St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger (Barbara Fraser)
Hancock Place School District
Hazelwood School District
Jennings School District
Mehlville School District
Parkway School District
Riverview Gardens School District
Rockwood School District
Special School District
University City School District

Law Enforcement Agencies
Clayton Police Department
North County Police Cooperative
St. Louis County Police Department
University City Police Department

Juvenile Defender, St. Louis County
Office of Missouri State Public Defender
St. Louis University Legal Clinic-JRAP
Washington University Law Clinic

Faith-based Organizations
Episcopal City Mission
Metropolitan Congregations United
New Northside Church

Community Organizations
Deaconess Foundation
Full Frame Initiative
Great Circle
Man of Valor, Inc.
MERS Goodwill
Missouri Children’s Division
Places for People
Preferred Family Healthcare
Presbyterian Children’s Home and Services
Safe Connections
St. Louis County Children’s Service Fund
St. Louis Integrated Health Network
St. Vincent’s Home for Children
United Way of Greater St. Louis


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