Operation Safe Kids (OSK) is a collaboration between the health department, the Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) and other state and city agencies that provides intensive community-based case management and monitoring of high-risk juvenile offenders in order to prevent them from becoming victims or perpetrators of violent crimes and ensure that they have the tools they need to become productive adults.
Operation Safe Kids (OSK) provides intensive community-based case management and monitoring to approximately 350 high-risk Violence Prevention Initiative (VPI) youth annually with the goal of preventing them from becoming victims or perpetrators of violent crime. The Baltimore City Health Department team works closely with Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) case managers and other state and city agencies to reduce youth violence in the city by ensuring these young people have the tools they need to become productive adults.
In addition to case management activities, the following enhanced services are provided:
- Employment: An Employment Counselor from the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development (MOED) is funded to provide employability and life skills training and to connect youth to summer, after-school and permanent employment. This individual not only connects youth to summer and after-school employment, but also to training and apprenticeship programs that prepare youth for careers.
- Education: An Education Coordinator provides improved educational coordination to clients, particularly those who are overage or chronically truant, in order to ensure youth are in appropriate school placements, prevent disciplinary removals, reduce delinquent behavior, and improve school performance. This individual works closely with the school system and alternative schools to ensure our client’s educational success.
- Family: OSK offers parent groups to provide support and an outlet to share concerns, and obtain information related to services their child may be eligible for.
- Extracurricular Activities: The program sponsors trips and special events to promote positive team building and social skills development.
- Transition Services for Reentry Youth: Operation Safe Kids (OSK) has also received a grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to provide a continuum of services for VPI youth as they transition from long-term out of home placement back into the community starting ninety days prior to the youth’s return to the community.
Operation Safe Kids Court: The Operation Safe Kids Court (OSK Court) program, a problem-solving court model, targets juvenile justice system youth who are under DJS supervision and at-risk of out-of-home placement. OSK Court’s intensive community-based program provides accountability and immediate response to the highest risk youth who continue to exhibit delinquent behavior within DJS’s Violence Prevention Initiative. This is achieved through intensive monitoring, case management and regular court review hearings on a separate docket within the Baltimore City Juvenile Court.
Each youth is assigned a youth worker who becomes a presence in the child’s life and coordinates a treatment service plan in order to meet his or her needs. A clinical coordinator helps to develop a treatment plan for each youth and family. The treatment plan includes such services as:
- Substance abuse treatment, provided by dedicated counselors at the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center;
- Mental health treatment, provided by a dedicated clinical social worker;
- Educational advocacy; AND
- Employment assistance, provided by a specialist from the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development
- Regular clinical meetings and KidStat meetings allow staff from an array of local and state agencies to coordinate services on behalf of participating youth and their families.
Operation Safe Kids serves youth under the supervision of the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services’ Violence Prevention Initiative (VPI). VPI and OSK’s criteria, detailed below, are designed to identify youth who are at the highest risk of becoming victims or perpetrators of violent crime. Clients are referred by the Department of Juvenile Services.
If you are the parent or guardian of a young person that you believe is eligible for the program, please speak with your child’s Department of Juvenile Services case management specialist regarding your child’s eligibility for the program.
- Youth meeting any one of the following criteria are eligible for VPI/OSK:
- Facts sustained for a crime of violence*
- History of arrest for the use of a deadly weapon in the commission of a crime
- History of arrest for any crime involving the possession of a firearm
- Case transferred from adult criminal jurisdiction (reverse waiver) and facts sustained on any charge in the petition
- Identified as a targeted victim of a crime of violence* by DJS or a partner agency (i.e., law enforcement, state’s attorney, public defender, Department of Social Services)
- Identified by law enforcement as a witness to a crime of violence where retribution is a concern
- Identified by law enforcement as having an immediate family member or close affiliate who is a victim of a crime of violence where retribution may be an issue
- Youth requiring intensive supervision as determined by the DJS risk assessment instrument must meet one of the following criteria:
- Two (2) or more facts sustained felony CDS offenses
- History of two or more adjudicated offenses prior to the youth’s 13th birthday
- Confirmed gang affiliation as documented in the DJS gang database
*Crimes of violence include murder, manslaughter, robbery, robbery with a deadly weapon, carjacking, 1st degree assault or attempts of these crimes