Sites Selected to Pilot New Deep-End Reform Strategy

Posted May 6, 2013, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

At last year’s JDAI Intersite Conference in Houston, we discussed the Casey Foundation’s intentions to expand the focus of JDAI to the dispositional end of the system. Analogous to the Foundation’s detention reform agenda, efforts to reform the “deep end” of the system would be focused on safely reducing post-dispositional incarceration and other forms of out-of-home placement.

As explained in Bart Lubow’s state of the initiative remarks and subsequent workshops, Casey’s foray into the deep end of the system would be waged at the national, state and local levels. Since the conference, the Foundation’s Juvenile Justice Strategy Group has simultaneously worked to develop approaches and tools to guide deep-end reform at the local level, while determining which sites were the best fit to pilot this expanded focus of JDAI.

In the spring of 2012, JDAI sites with at least a couple of years of experience under their belts were asked whether they were interested in becoming one of the pilot deep-end sites. Approximately two dozen local sites expressed interest, each of which was invited to one of a series of regional meetings aimed at providing additional information and introducing the type of activities that are believed to be central to the early stages of Casey’s focus on the dispositional end of the system.

The meetings also highlighted two different approaches to local deep-end reform that the Casey Foundation plans to test in the first year of this effort: one described as an intensive technical assistance model and the second a more self-guided model that will ask the sites to take on some of the tasks typically provided by Foundation staff and consultants in JDAI.

Last fall, six sites were selected to pilot this new work. Jefferson Parish, La. and Marion County, Ind. will serve as the intensive TA sites, while Washoe County, Nev.; St. Louis City, Mo; Lucas County, Ohio; and Bernalillo County, N.M. will take on the more self-guided approach. It was a difficult process to select only six sites. The most common reason that sites were not chosen to participate in the initial cohort was that the deep-end focus was a poor fit at this particular time (e.g., other reform priorities, transition of a key leader, issues were primarily at the state rather than local level).

It was emphasized to all sites that showed an interest in the deep-end focus that the Foundation expects there to be many additional opportunities to take on this work and that we are eager to partner with many more sites as we refine the approaches.

Beginning in February, each of the pilot sites kicked off the new deep-end focus. Over the next year, intensive and self-guided sites alike will have access to a series of tools and other opportunities to help them determine reform priorities (e.g., quantitative analysis guide, qualitative system assessment, work plan template), learn from experiences of other jurisdictions (e.g., innovations guide, intersite meetings, fundamentals and dispositional planning training) and receive specialized training and/or technical assistance based on local priorities.