From 2013 to 2018, the Annie E. Casey Foundation funded a developmental evaluation of a deep-end reform initiative involving 12 juvenile justice jurisdictions across the United States. This initiative, which the Casey Foundation supported through funding and technical assistance, aimed to safely and significantly reduce out-of-home placements for youth, especially youth of color.
The evaluation — carried out by Urban Institute and Mathematica — focuses on implementation strategies, processes and progress as reported by jurisdictions, courts, partner organizations and other stakeholders of the participating sites.
Among its findings, the evaluation determined that:
Communities engaging in deep-end reform conducted multiple activities to reduce out- of-home placements and improve racial and ethnic equity and inclusion in their juvenile justice practices.
No single characteristic that appeared linked to the success of deep-end activities, but five particular characteristics were common and considered assets to implementing reform.
Racial and ethnic equity and inclusion does not have a one-size-fits-all approach but collaborating with youth, families, community members, and organizations outside if the juvenile justice system is essential for advancing equity and inclusion goals.
Certain key factors can help a jurisdiction use data to inform its reforms and decisions. These factors include staff buy-in, expertise in analytical methods and the juvenile justice system and staff capacity to gather data.
This report, which presents the evaluation’s full findings, offers readers a high-level view of the Foundation’s deep-end reform efforts. It explores why deep-end reform is necessary, how sites evolved their activities, and what successes and challenges accompany this work.
Staff identified elements they perceived as essential to sustaining their sites’ deep-end reform efforts. These elements largely fell into three categories: culture changes, written policy changes and funding strategies.
Building Better Relationships
In deep-end jurisdictions, three-quarters or more of probation staff reported very often or always working with parents to help youth achieve their goals.
Praise for Tech Support
Three-quarters or more of survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the Casey’s technical assistance helped them better understand core deep-end principles.
The Importance of Empowered Leaders
Eight of nine deep-end sites had leaders with positional power to make decisions and follow through with them.
Researchers identified three common barriers to deep-end reforms. These were: 1) site staff turnover; 2) lack of commitment among leadership; and 3) lack of buy-in and collaboration among stakeholders and site staff.
Statements & Quotations
Deep-end reform activities include improved probation practices, better decision making throughout the juvenile justice system, expanded diversion and service options, and increased youth and family engagement.
Sustaining changes to deep-end policy and practice related to probation required buy-in from frontline probation staff and a shared understanding of the purposes of probation.
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