Mark Shriver, son of Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founded The Choice Intensive Advocacy Program in 1987 as a part of the Children and Adolescent Health Advocacy Project (CAHAP) in Baltimore City. Two years later, Choice became a not-for-profit organization of the Shriver Center at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). In 1991, Choice received funding from the Department of Juvenile Services (formerly the Department of Juvenile Justice) and began what is now a longstanding collaborative relationship. The Baltimore City-based Choice Program expanded to Baltimore County in 1992.
The Choice JobsProgram was established in Baltimore City in 1993 and soon after opened a stand at Oriole’s games through a Flying Fruit Fantasy franchise. In addition to the stand a Camden Yards, The Choice JobsProgram opened a second Flying Fruit Fantasy kiosk at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in 2012.
The Choice Program has participated in the AmeriCorps Program since 2004.
Recognized locally and nationally as a cost-effective, outcomes-based program, Choice has served nearly 19,000 youth and families throughout communities inMaryland. The Choice Program model has been successfully replicated in Hartford, Connecticutin 1996, San Diego, California in 1996, Providence, Rhode Island in 1998, Syracuse, New York in 2003, and Wilmington, Delaware in 2010. Evaluations of these programs demonstrate a similar impact to the results in Maryland: reduction in delinquent behavior and reducing out-of-home placements. The Choice Program has received local and national acclaim for effective services. The following are links to sites recognizing the success of Choice:
Maryland Department of Juvenile Services
Gap Analysis Report Fiscal Year 05 Cited
as a "Model Diversion Program inMaryland"
"The evaluation revealed a strong and statistically significant difference between the Choice group and the control group on both number and seriousness of arrests while in the program."
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Recognized in Model Program Guide in 1995
"76 percent of the Choice youth had no arrests within 6 months, compared with 55 % of the control youth. Somewhat fewer Choice youth (24 percent compared to 30 percent) had been arrested for medium or major offenses."
Maryland Juvenile Justice Coalition & Advocates For Children and Youth
Cited in '05 Parents Voices:"Parents
with Children in the Maryland Juvenile Justice System Speak Out"
Praise for Non-Residential Rehabilitation Programs
"By far the most satisfied group of parents in the focus group were those whose children had been referred to intensive non-residential counseling programs. Parents were particularly pleased with the CHOICE Program operated by theShriverCenterat the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
'I'd have to say that the CHOICE Program is the only thing that turned my kid around,' one parent reported. 'My son, for three years he didn't smile. He didn't smile. He didn't show any emotions. Then he got into this group, the CHOICE Program, and he smiled. He's open [now], he's talkative, he's alive.'
'My son is in the CHOICE Program and girl, they are amazing,' exalted one mother. 'My son loves them. You talk about going places. They go go-cart riding, movies, you name it.' Parents also praised CHOICE for providing incentives for youth to stay in school and work hard towards their goals."
Annie E. Casey Foundation
Cited in ADVOCASEY"Documenting
Programs that Work for Kids and Families," Spring 2003
"Anthony had a problem controlling his anger back then and had gotten in with the wrong crowd, he admits. Today, he credits Lori Leonard (his Choice Caseworker).with helping him turn himself around. 'They believed in me when I didn't,' Anthony says.
Now 23, Anthony is a junior atBowieStateUniversitymajoring in Computer Science. 'I'm living proof, with the right help, you can do it,' he says."