Innovation Brief: Strengthening the Role of Families in Juvenile Justice

Reclaiming Futures
David Backes
February 7, 2013

In 2007, Models for Change-Pennsylvania set out to address the roles of families in the juvenile justice system. The multidisciplinary workgroup included both family advocacy and juvenile justice leadership. The Innovation Brief: Strengthening the Role of Families in Juvenile Justice, outlines the goals and process Pennsylvania took to achieve their three overarching goals:

  1. Align with the philosophies of Pennsylvania’s juvenile justice system and the state’s family advocacy network.
  2. Integrate with ongoing system reform emerging from Models for Change-Pennsylvania.
  3. Design and implement a strategic model that authentically includes the voices of all stakeholders, advances evidence- based approaches, and produces measurable and sustainable change.

Before Pennsylvania's formal family involvement training was put in place, only about 51% of participants felt that the benefits of family involvement in the court process outweighed the drawbacks. After, nearly 80% felt that family involvement was good for the court process:

Today, Models for Change is seeking to sustain and bring effective family involvement to scale by:

  • Achieving better family engagement with the process, and linking that to improved outcomes for the child, the community, the victim, and the system.
  • Engaging practitioners to look objectively at the underlying biases, skill gaps, and structures that prevent them from effectively involving families in the child’s juvenile justice experience.
  • Including families in the design, implementation, and assessment of approaches and models intended to engage them.

The full report with additional details can be found online as a free downloadable PDF here.

This summary was reprinted with permission from Reclaiming Futures.


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