Apply Now: Support for Meaningful Family Engagement in Juvenile Justice

Posted March 2, 2021
Father with teenage son

Now through March 17, 2021, state or local juve­nile jus­tice agen­cies can apply to receive con­sult­ing sup­port on devel­op­ing and main­tain­ing col­lab­o­ra­tive rela­tion­ships with young peo­ple and their fam­i­lies. The Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion is offer­ing this oppor­tu­ni­ty to test its fam­i­ly engage­ment frame­work, a road map for involv­ing and sup­port­ing fam­i­lies as they nav­i­gate the juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem so that fam­i­lies can become allies in their children’s long-term success.

The Foun­da­tion will select up to three juve­nile jus­tice agen­cies for a three-month field test based on the framework’s guid­ing concepts:

  1. Cre­at­ing a staff cul­ture cen­tered on fam­i­lies. Sys­tems active­ly work to trans­form their cul­tures and shift staff per­cep­tions through poli­cies and train­ing that focus on fam­i­ly needs and strengths — devel­op­ing staff who are focused on serv­ing youth and their families.
  2. Defin­ing what makes a fam­i­ly. The legal def­i­n­i­tion of a fam­i­ly extends beyond bio­log­i­cal par­ents and legal guardians.
  3. Sup­port­ing, guid­ing and advo­cat­ing for fam­i­lies. Sys­tems cre­ate poli­cies to ensure fam­i­lies are offered train­ing on the juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem, devel­op­ing a net­work of sup­port ser­vices and resources to address fam­i­ly needs through­out the process.
  4. Empow­er­ing fam­i­ly voice and retain­ing fam­i­ly con­nec­tions. Sys­tems engage fam­i­lies at the ear­li­est point pos­si­ble, cre­ate an envi­ron­ment that gives fam­i­lies a voice in all deci­sion mak­ing and employ prac­tices that allow youth to main­tain con­tact with their fam­i­lies as eas­i­ly and fre­quent­ly as possible.

What’s Expect­ed from Par­tic­i­pat­ing Agencies

Agen­cies par­tic­i­pat­ing in the field test will use the fam­i­ly engage­ment frame­work to devel­op and imple­ment action plans for effec­tive­ly engag­ing fam­i­lies and reduc­ing neg­a­tive expe­ri­ences. Each agency will estab­lish out­comes it would like to achieve through fam­i­ly engage­ment efforts, con­sid­er­ing how to make the most of oppor­tu­ni­ties in its local con­text, includ­ing col­lab­o­rat­ing with com­mu­ni­ty-based part­ners; lay­ing out action steps; cre­at­ing real­is­tic time­lines and assign­ing roles and respon­si­bil­i­ties. By the end of the test peri­od, the juris­dic­tions should be ready to imple­ment their plans.

Dur­ing the pilot, the three par­tic­i­pat­ing agen­cies will form a peer net­work. Dur­ing or after the pilot, the juris­dic­tions will join two dis­cus­sions about imple­ment­ing the fam­i­ly engage­ment frame­work that will be host­ed on JDAIcon­nect, the online com­mu­ni­ty for the JDAI® network.

The Foundation’s Support

Dur­ing the three-month field test peri­od, the Foun­da­tion will pro­vide con­sul­ta­tive sup­port to the par­tic­i­pants in the form of imple­men­ta­tion plan­ning guid­ance geared toward using the frame­work and self-assess­ment tools effectively.


Juris­dic­tions must apply by March 17, 2021 by com­plet­ing this sur­vey. Agen­cies par­tic­i­pat­ing in JDAI may apply, as well as oth­er agen­cies seek­ing to devel­op strong plans for improv­ing their approach to fam­i­ly engage­ment. Please address ques­tions to Opal West, pro­gram asso­ciate with the Foundation.

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