Casey Selects 11 Jurisdictions to Train Frontline Juvenile Justice Staff

Posted September 13, 2022, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Two Black men sit in front of a laptop. One points at the screen, discussing strategy and sharing ideas.

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;
  • courts;
  • 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.

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