Personal Narrative: My Relationship With J-MHAP

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Interviewer: Can you tell me your relationship to J-MHAP

Interviewee: Well, J-MHAP has its source, in the Guardian Ad Litem Program, that was started at Helpful Advocate in about 2005 and I was there at the founding of the program. What happened was, one day we were in the courtroom of Judge Louis Perez and he had been a real champion of our coming to Wister, which we wanted to do, and he wanted us to come into his court and help with kids with mental illness who came before him, as Chin’s cases.

So, we had to figure out a way, with this one case, of how we could really represent the court HLA, so we came up with, and the we, was Judge Perez, Steve Bing who was a volunteer lawyer, and me, can up with the idea of modifying a usual guardian
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There was one person who called in, whose son, as it turned out, after a lot of back and forth, was actually a client of J-MHAP, but that happened once. So, that is one thing that registers strong with me. In terms of in court stuff, this has been on my mind lately. The project was born in an era of CHINS. We now have at least what is labeled as CHINS Reform. It’s harder to be a CHINS kid, whatever the label is.

Interviewer: CRA now, Child Requiring Assistance.

Interviewee: Okay, and my understanding is that there is more, let’s say, front door work, at least theoretically done in the system, to prevent a kid from actually being in the court.

Interviewer: Right.

Interviewee: One part of me says, lets declare a victory, because the lack of that attitude, that mindset, about diverting at the front door, is part of what made Judge Perez reach out to us and say, these kids don’t belong here, but they are here and can you help me figure out how we make it better. So, that is on my mind, as to whether or not the concept is obsolete. I don’t know the answer to it, but I think that it’s something that would be wise to examine. Recently, I met with Marisol and Matt about this, and I stronger recommended trying to create a relationship with whatever the treatment system
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Interviewee: I think one is because they didn’t think of it.

Interviewer: So, they don’t feel like they own it.

Interviewee: They don’t feel like they own it, it is somebody else program.

Interviewer: Is that just a turf kind of thing?

Interviewee: No, I think that is human nature. I think, you know, it’s not their program and they have their own things that they want to do to shine and show how great they are, and show their own recognition of problems. That really goes back to the former Chief Justice, whose name escapes me right now, but he was, at best, luke warm.

So, we never had that kind of strong, working relationship around this program, and that in itself, should have been a warning signal. The court system, it’s a strong hierarchy, and no one gets anywhere without funding and advancement within the system, without the strong support of the Chief Justice of the particular

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