‘Models for Change’ Series Available Online

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A series of eight reports that summarize effective strategies to improve services and treatment of juveniles in the justice system is now available through the Models for Change Research Initiative website.

At a time of tight federal, state and local budgets, the aim of the “Knowledge Briefs” series is to share pioneering strategies that communities can study and possibly duplicate within their own juvenile systems. Supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which has spent some $100 million on juvenile justice reform efforts since 2004, the series outlines inventive approaches adopted by different states to cost-effectively improve the outlook for young people leaving the justice system and re-entering society.

The series includes a study that examined whether young people at three sites in Louisiana and Washington state were treated differently in probation if they belonged to a minority race or ethnic group, and a cost-benefit analysis from a juvenile center in Cook County, Ill., that could serve as an example of how to determine whether certain reforms are worth the money.

Although the reports were published last December, the MacArthur Foundation announced their release as a series a couple of weeks ago, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention within the U.S. Department of Justice promoted their availability in an email to its news subscribers yesterday.

In January, the OJJDP announced a $2 million partnership with the MacArthur Foundation to support key reforms in the juvenile justice system. One aspect of the partnership involves federal help in “disseminating knowledge and innovations that have emerged” from the Models for Change initiative, explained Andrew Solomon, a spokesman for the MacArthur Foundation.

The $2 million – funded in equal part by the foundation and by the OJJDP – is going to four organizations over two years. These organizations, which include the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Center for Children’s Law and Policy, will offer technical assistance and training to state and local governments in four critical areas: improving mental health screenings and risk and needs assessments for juveniles in the system; providing training for juvenile detention and corrections staff to deal with the mental health needs of juveniles; reducing ethnic and racial disparities within the juvenile justice system; and better coordinating the services offered to youth by the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

All four organizations funded by the partnership have previously worked on the Models for Change initiative by developing, implementing and evaluating best-practice blueprints for reforms in juvenile justice.

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