Damascus Way had the privilege of attending the recent Minnesota Corrections Association (MCA) Juvenile Justice Conference for 2024 at the YMCA in Maplewood. As a Platinum Sponsor, Damascus Way was honored to be featured at the conference and given the opportunity to share about our expanding youth and family services! Two key staff members, Senior Director Kevin Saunders and our new Youth & Family Services Director Demetria Frazier represented Damascus Way and Destiny Way/Dads! Here is what our new director Demetria had to say about the conference:

It was an eye-opener to be in the room with Juvenile Probation officers, Juvenile Public Defenders and Corrections officers from around the State who expounded on the many challenges as it relates to youth sentencing and lack of youth services. Currently, the state of Minnesota does not have the best programming in how it sentences youth for sexual offenses, how to accounts for mental illness and considers the age of accountability. There is a bill in Minnesota that is currently attempting to shift the age of accountability from 11 to 13 years old.
The child often gets passed back and forth between justice departments because of the lack of ability to meet their need holistically. I also noticed that there is a lack of value placed on the father-child relationship as it relates to juvenile fathers particularly in Hennepin County. This is a great opportunity to draw attention to the mother-child relationship as well. This could inform the expansion of our Destiny Way services.
One concrete outcome from the conference is that we have a meeting scheduled next week with the Hennepin County Corrections Program Director to share more about our Destiny services, for men and youth. Another benefit of attending conferences as such is to network and learn more about other available resources to share with program participants.