The University of Louisville is working with incarcerated youth to prepare them to successfully return to the community and to reduce their risk for re-entering the detention system. A counseling program offered through the College of Education and Human Development focuses on reducing recidivism and is part of the city’s overall strategy for reducing violence.

The new program, run by Eugene H. Foster, clinical associate professor in the CEHD’s Department of Counseling and Human Development, is in partnership with Louisville Metro Government’s Youth Detention Services. It is an offshoot of the Cardinal Success Program that operates two free mental health training clinics in west Louisville.

UofL graduate students work with groups of youths to develop behaviors that will help them successfully return to the community and reduce the risk of reoffending. In a five-month period in 2017, 200 young people had been served in 40 small group sessions.
UofL graduate students in counselor education and counseling psychology facilitate the groups. Sessions focus on healthy, safe relationships; mindfulness; coping skills; and substance abuse decision-making.

“Evidence informs us that those who build and maintain positive interpersonal, family and community connections upon returning to the community are at reduced risk for reoffending and recidivism,” Foster told attendees when he discussed the program at Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s strategic planning summit in August.

The program is also a crucial part of UofL’s training mission.

“We are preparing the next generation of mental health providers to comfortably work in traditionally underserved urban communities,” Foster said.

Janet Cappiello covers student success for the Office of Communications and Marketing. She has more than 30 years’ experience in journalism, including working for The Associated Press and magazines such as Vegetarian Times and Sustainability: The Journal of Record. She has been at UofL since 2014.