Using Multidisciplinary Partnerships to Advance Juvenile Justice Reform: Experiences in 10 Communities

Using Multidisciplinary Partnerships to Advance Juvenile Justice Reform: Experiences in 10 Communities

Published: Sep 28, 2021
Publisher: Criminal Justice Policy Review (online ahead of print)
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Associated Project

Improving Reforms for Youth Involved in the Juvenile Justice System

Time frame: 2014 – 2020

Prepared for:

The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Authors

Leah Sakala

Janine Zweig

Sino Esthappan

Key Findings
  • Our findings confirm and expand the literature on partnerships involved with juvenile justice reform in three important ways: (1) we present the extent and quality of each site’s partnership by examining stakeholder agreement with a set of 10 statements; (2) we show an association between the perceived quality of a partnership and other intended implementation factors related to the reform; and (3) we document how stakeholders viewed aspects of their partnerships—broader collaboration and coordination, expanding and engaging stakeholders, partnering with families, and partnering with youth—as both successes and challenges of their work.
  • We observed a relationship between strong collaboration and other aspects of reform implementation. Developing diverse partnerships to engage in juvenile justice reform is an achievable goal that can go hand in hand with reform efforts.
  • Despite partnerships being central to the deep-end model and the Foundation providing technical assistance to facilitate collaboration, sites encountered many challenges with this aspect of reform. Deep-end stakeholders frequently mentioned the need to improve collaboration and community engagement to pursue reform.
  • Family engagement emerged broadly and consistently as a priority for both reform processes and individual juvenile justice cases. Stakeholders identified such involvement as an explicit goal of their efforts and noted its perceived beneficial effect on youth outcomes. Partnerships with youth require unique consideration separate from family engagement and were less commonly reported as deep-end activities.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation created its national deep-end initiative to support local jurisdictions to develop and implement practices, policies, and programs that prevent youth involved in the juvenile justice system—especially for youth of color—from being sent to out-of-home placements. This article presents findings about the role that partnerships played across 10 communities in the initiative, leveraging data collected through interviews and a web-based stakeholder survey. As part of the deep-end initiative, stakeholders developed partnerships with multiple entities, though they reported partnering with community organizations, youth, and families less than with juvenile justice agencies. Family engagement emerged broadly and consistently as a priority, but stakeholders infrequently mentioned youth engagement. Sites with more collaboration typically had stronger implementation, suggesting that successful collaboration goes hand in hand with implementing broader reform activities. Developing diverse partnerships to engage in juvenile justice reform is an achievable goal that can advance reform efforts.

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