Casey Selects 11 Jurisdictions to Train Frontline Juvenile Justice Staff
The Annie E. Casey Foundation and School & Main Institute have selected 11 jurisdictions to conduct professional development based on the Reimagining Juvenile Justice (RJJ) curriculum. The training is rooted in adolescent development research, which indicates that young people respond well to a positive environment and supportive, caring adults. The professional development series encourages participants to shift their mindsets by thinking outside of their traditional roles to develop reforms that engage young people and families. RJJ aims to help frontline staff better support, divert and redirect youth to appropriate and fair justice options.
Who Are the RJJ Participating Organizations?
Through a competitive process, the Foundation and School & Main chose participants from 11 localities. The participants are:
- Arizona: Maricopa County Juvenile Probation Department and community partner Family Involvement Center.
- Georgia: Chatham County Juvenile Court and community partner DEEP Center.
- Georgia: Fulton County Juvenile Court and community partner youthSpark.
- Illinois: Cook County Juvenile Probation Department and community partner GRO Community.
- Missouri: Greene County Juvenile Office, the 31st Judicial Circuit Juvenile and Family Court and the Missouri Division of Youth Services.
- Missouri: Jasper County Juvenile Court and community partner The Alliance of Southwest Missouri.
- Nevada: Lyon County Juvenile Probation and community partner Healthy Communities Coalition.
- New Jersey: Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office and community partner Life Worth Living, Inc.
- Ohio: Franklin County Juvenile Court, Juvenile Community Enrichment Services, Youth Education and Intervention Services and the Franklin County Office of Justice Policy and Programs.
- Texas: Harris County Juvenile Probation Department and community partner Change Happens!.
- Virginia: Danville Police Department (22nd Judicial District of Virginia) and community partner KaZelle & Company.
Training for the trainers culminates with an in-person institute in Denver in October 2022. Then, the trainers will deliver the RJJ curriculum to colleagues in their home communities between November 2022 and April 2023. Depending on local circumstances, the training will be delivered virtually, in person or through a hybrid of virtual and in-person instruction.
What Came Before the 2022 RJJ Train-the-Trainer Institute
The RJJ approach has developed over stages. Since 2016, 94 trainers in jurisdictions across the country have delivered the course to more than 800 professionals in their respective communities. The professionals represent an array of agencies and organizations, including:
- government and nonprofit agencies;
- public education;
- local law enforcement;
- community and faith-based organizations; and
- youth with justice system involvement and their family members.
A Closer Look at the RJJ Curriculum
The RJJ training curriculum aims to:
- equip youth for long-term success by providing alternatives to justice system involvement and incarceration;
- instill approaches that help young people reach their potential by identifying and building on their strengths and interests; and
- encourage public systems and community-based partners to collaborate more frequently and creatively.
The curriculum encourages members of youth-serving agencies — including juvenile justice professionals — to look beyond a young person’s needs and problems and focus instead on a young person’s assets. Professionals will also learn how to navigate and collaborate with other public systems and community partners to fully access resources for young people as well as advance racial and ethnic equity.
“Jurisdictions have credited the RJJ curriculum with making their staff and partners more receptive to connecting young people with positive opportunities,” says David E. Brown, a senior associate at the Foundation.
What Difference Is RJJ Making?
RJJ has prompted key practice changes in the 18 states and more than 35 jurisdictions implementing the approach. RJJ’s work in Ohio, for instance, is encouraging listening to and learning from youth who have experience in the justice system. In Pima County, Arizona, RJJ training encourages participants to challenge assumptions and share valuable information across agencies. In Racine County, Wisconsin, probation officers are using youth assessments to build fuller pictures of the lives of individual young people and their families, rather than using assessments only to diagnose what is wrong and try to fix deficits with a patchwork of services.
Maryland’s Department of Juvenile Services is expanding on the RJJ modules on racial equity and family engagement in the training it delivers statewide. Arkansas is following a similar approach, using RJJ modules as the core of statewide training. “A positive youth development mindset with stronger cross-system collaboration is vital to the juvenile justice system because the youth who find themselves within the system often face challenges that cannot be resolved punitively,” says Faye Shepherd, a juvenile justice specialist with the Arkansas Administrative Office of the Courts.
Will the RJJ Curriculum Be Available Broadly?
School & Main will release the following RJJ curriculum modules in an e‑learning training format in fall 2022:
- Positive Youth Development Fundamentals.
- Using a Cross-Systems Approach.
- Addressing Race and Ethnic Equity and Inclusion Issues in Policy and Practice.
- Engaging Youth Voice and Empowering Youth Leadership.
- Fostering Positive Family Relationships in the Juvenile Justice System.
- Transforming Policy and Practice: Presentations and Recommendations.
“RJJ moves systems and communities to incorporate changes to juvenile justice policy and practice that reflect what we know about positive youth development to improve outcomes for youth,” Brown says.