We are pleased to announce the Manitoba FASD Centre and FASD Justice Team are the recipients of this year’s Claudette Bradshaw FASD Innovation Award for their pilot program supporting adults with FASD in the justice system.
FASD in the justice system
We know there are high rates of individuals with FASD in the justice system. These individuals are often undiagnosed. When unrecognized and unsupported, they struggle navigating the system and may reoffend upon release.
Adult FASD Justice Program
The Adult FASD Justice Pilot Program started in 2020. The program gives young adults (18-25) involved in the justice system in Manitoba access to FASD diagnostic and assessment services. Offenders diagnosed with FASD can access follow-up supports and services to help them with their specific needs and challenges. Additionally, people with FASD can be tried before the FASD Docket, where the courts take the impacts of FASD into consideration during the sentencing process.
The project is a continuation of the youth justice system program, which provides similar supports and services to youth aged 12-17 in the system.
The impact of this program
The project is wrapping up its initial three-year pilot. The team surpassed their goal for the number of assessments completed during this period. Of all the individuals assessed through this program, 88% were diagnosed with FASD. Most participants also received other mental health and neurodevelopmental disorder diagnoses.
Many participants newly met eligibility criteria for community services. As a result of their involvement in the project, most will receive supports, services, and funding that they were not previously eligible for. The program helped people to recognize their needs and it connected individuals to appropriate supports.
The project team says, “We see everyday the difference that this program makes. When individuals and their circle of care receive and come to understand their FASD Diagnosis then they start to better understand themselves. They come to better appreciate the things that they are really good at… They also begin to learn that their challenges are, at times, out of their control. That they may require adaptations, modifications or supports to be successful in some areas of their lives.”
Looking to the future
The project team completed an evaluation of the Adult FASD Justice Program. Early findings recommend the importance of formal screening and assessment approaches, systems of support for adults involved in the system, increasing the capacity for complex case management, training for all intersecting systems.
For the project team, receiving this award “highlights nationally and internationally the significant gaps that exist for adults with prenatal alcohol exposure and how partnerships and government support can go a long way in improving the lives and outcomes for individuals and the community at large.”
Members of the team presented about this project at the Canada FASD Conference last week!