Latest News from Hamilton County Juvenile Court
Celebrating Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
June is Pride month nationally and here in Cincinnati on the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City. Pride celebrates and supports LGBTQIA+ people and their historic struggle for acceptance and freedom to be themselves. Pride celebrations also recognize the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion.
As a Court, justice and equality are the foundation of everything we do. Several Juvenile Court representatives were on hand for a flag raising on June 1 outside the Hamilton County Courthouse. Judge Kari Bloom joined Hamilton County Commissioners Alicia Reece, Denise Driehaus, and Stephanie Summerow Dumas, along with Hamilton County Sheriff Charmaine McGuffey, and several others for the event.
Judge Bloom also sent this message to members of the Juvenile Court staff: “Together, it is our job to create an environment where all feel welcome and heard. We must represent all the people we serve, including diversity of gender, race, sexuality, creed, nationality, experiences, and thought. Each of you belong here. It is important to me and to Judge DeGraffenreid that you feel safe, respected and valued for who you are and what you do.”
Hamilton County Juvenile Court supports all children. Here are some local resources for LGBTQ children and their families in our area.
Judge Bloom Honors High School Heroes
On April 20, Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Kari Bloom was the keynote speaker at the Woodward Career Technical High School Career Tech Graduation. She also had the honor of presenting two members of the class a special award for their bravery.
Jaileyana Fraley and Lagena Johnson completed their certification in Woodward’s health tech program. Two months before graduation, they voluntarily put their skills to the test and saved a life.
One of their fellow students was shot at an apartment complex near the school’s campus in February. He was able to get to the school to seek help. Fortunately, Jaileyana and Lagena were on site, taking part in “Sticks 4 Kicks,” a part of their program that allows for real-life experience in a simulated clinical setting.
The girls tended to the wound of their fellow student until assistance arrived.
“Jaileyana and Lagena sprang into action, without hesitation, without a second thought and administered lifesaving efforts for a friend,” said Judge Bloom “They were calm, they were caring, they were ready. They made a difference.”
In addition to presenting the students with an award for bravery, Judge Bloom also gave them a financial award for books as both move on to continue their education.
Address Child Abuse Before Victims End Up in Court
It’s a heartbreaking and consistent reality. Many abused and neglected children go unnoticed until they themselves act out and come to the Juvenile Court. Numerous studies link early child abuse and neglect to later involvement in the juvenile justice system. That means it’s when they’re sitting in a courtroom like mine that children are asked, often for the first time, about abuse.
Too often, we are using a child’s delinquent and criminal behavior to finally address the impact of child abuse. It must, for every single child, begin sooner.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month. Last year alone, Hamilton County Jobs & Family Services, reports serving more than 24,000 children and families and answering more than 51,000 hotline calls. In Hamilton County Juvenile Court, we heard just over 1,300 cases of abuse, neglect or dependency.
Pet Therapy = Unconditional Love
We are excited to welcome two new therapists to our team at Hamilton County Juvenile Court (HCJC). Winston and Amelia are with “Best Friends Pet Assisted Therapy.”
Amelia, who is pictured here at the Youth Center, is a five-year-old Golden Retriever. Winston is also a Golden Retriever who is just a year and a half. With support from “Best Friends” trainer/handler Sarah Leonard, Winston and/or Amelia are at the Youth Center two days a week, spreading their non-judgmental love.
“We are always looking for ways to reduce stress and address trauma for our kids,” said HCJC Judge Kari Bloom. “Winston and Amelia provide comfort that the kids in our care need and can’t get anywhere else. Our kids come from all different backgrounds, and for some, it’s the first time they’ve had the opportunity to pet a dog and experience their unconditional acceptance and support.”
We’re grateful to have these four-legged therapists on our team and look forward to seeing the impact they will have.
HCJC Employees Get Creative for Black History Month
In celebration of Black History Month, Hamilton County Juvenile Court employees came together to paint a mural that now hangs at the check in desk on the first floor of our building at 800 Broadway. The Court worked with local Black-owned business Soul Palette to create a multicultural design with children as a focus. “We wanted to put a lot of kids in the image and positive messaging like our future, children matter, and resilience, so people would know exactly what you are about,” said Brandon Hawkins, co-owner of Soul Palette, along with his wife Niki. Employees painted small pieces or sections of the mural, guided by Hawkins. The result is a bright, colorful, image of diverse children in front of the downtown Cincinnati skyline. A second mural was designed for the Court’s Youth Center at 2020 Auburn Ave. Students at the Youth Center will paint the mural this month, with guidance from art teacher Penny Harris.