Nicasa’s Teen Court and GivingTuesday

Nicasa Behavioral Health Services is proud of the work our Teen Court program does for the youth of Lake County, IL. Since the program started in 1996, more than 5,820 youths have been helped with making positive lifestyle changes that they will use for the rest of their lives. The is almost the population of Highwood, IL!

That is an entire community of teens aged 13 to 17 years old who participated in a balanced and restorative justice program without going through costly administrative hearings and receiving a criminal charge that could follow them the rest of their lives. These teens did commit criminal acts, but through Teen Court they connected with an actual jury of their peers, learned to connect meaning with behaviors, received support for their mental health and underlying causes for their maladaptive coping strategies, and found a way to make positive, healthy lifestyle changes they could carry with them the rest of their lives. Teen Court does not use punitive methods of atonement for wrongdoing, but works with the youth in the community to help them achieve a brighter future of which they could not see a way of achieving on their own.

Teen Court also helps the teens learn an important skill that even some adults struggle with, making amends and apologizing for wrong actions. Teen participants connect meaning to their behaviors while learning how their actions harmed others. Many youth participants see how their actions have directly impacted another person and see the cost (monetary and/or emotional) to restore what was broken. The teen participants work alongside the victim to help with healing from their transgression, and the victim feels heard by the community.

Teen Court is 100% privately funded. It does not receive any state or federal grant funding, but rather it is directly funded by the community it supports, because it works. It has a historic success rate in Illinois, and a proven track record of rehabilitation for the youth who participate in the program. Not only that, but the volunteer peer jurors also learn invaluable skills on how to build community connections, empathy, gaining perspective on just how large and diverse their community is, leadership skills, as well as first-hand experience with the legal system.

During the giving season, Nicasa participates in GivingTuesday, a global leader in fundraising efforts for nonprofits and grassroots community organizations. This initiative allows us to amplify our community voice as well receive recognition for our program’s hard work. During GivingTuesday Teen Court receives a fundraising match from the Healthcare Foundation of Northern Lake County of $10,000 for any new and/or increased donations from November 21st through December 19th.

If you are interested in donating, please follow the link here:  or text TEENCOURT to 707070 for other ways to give.



How to Talk to Your Young Child About the LGBTQIA+ Community

As a parent or caregiver, it can be difficult to know the right thing to say when kids question what we deem to be adult topics. Broaching topics of sexuality can be awkward for both parties, however, it is a necessary conversation to have.

When it comes to talking about homosexuality and transgender individuals, children should be given age-appropriate information so they can better understand and empathize with others. Regardless of whether or not your child is LGBTQIA+, having a conversation about LGBTQIA+ issues will help reduce prejudice while teaching compassion and empathy.

When to Talk

It’s never too late to start a conversation on issues of sexuality with your children. While there may be initial discomfort and reluctance from preadolescent children and older, ultimately having these discussions with your children will help them develop a sense of safety and security with you, while it teaches them tolerance and acceptance.

For young children, the age of 5 is a good time to begin discussing these topics by sharing some basic information with them.

What to Say

For young children, keep the conversation simple and focus on basic concepts. When talking about homosexuality, you can explain to your child that just as a man and a woman can fall in love, so can a man with a man, and a woman with a woman. When talking about transgender individuals, you can explain that how a person looks on the outside isn’t always how they feel on the inside. You can refer to the familiar adage about “not judging a book by its cover.”

Children should understand the basic concept that even though people may look different than us, they are people just like we are and equally deserving of love, acceptance, and respect.

You Don’t Have to Know Everything

Your child may have questions that you can’t answer. It’s okay to admit to your child when you don’t know the right answer. This could be a discussion point for later after you’ve done some research, or it could be a good opportunity for you to learn from your child.

Are you a parent in need of parenting advice and support? A trained, licensed mental health professional can help. Call my office today, and we can set up an appointment to talk.