Reimagining Juvenile Justice (RJJ) is a staff development initiative sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and delivered through School & Main Institute (SMI). RJJ is designed for professionals working with youth involved in the juvenile justice system and their families. Its objective is to develop the capacity of professionals to support, divert and redirect youth to appropriate and fair justice options, including options that require a high degree of cross-system collaboration and coordination. It is based on research on adolescent development that shows youth thrive in a positive environment with the support of caring adults.
RJJ is intended to help professionals move from a historically punitive framework — one that pushes many young people deeper into system involvement — towards a more effective approach to addressing the multifaceted needs of young people and their families, helping them minimize or avoid system involvement. RJJ’s Positive Youth Development framework encourages youth justice professionals to focus on young people’s protective factors and strengths, not just risk factors and problems (Jeffrey Butts, 2010).
RJJ has a core curriculum of six course modules. Instruction is delivered through SMI, a nationally recognized nonprofit training organization located in Boston, Mass. The RJJ curriculum was designed by SMI with the input and assistance of specialists and professionals in the field of youth work, child welfare and juvenile justice.
The curriculum was piloted in Massachusetts in 2016–17 with 21 professionals representing a variety of agencies and diverse roles. In 2018, Pima County JDAI, located in Tucson, Arizona, was selected to replicate the RJJ. Twenty-eight (28) participants representing a range of professions from probation, detention, public education, local law enforcement, public defender, county attorney, parents, youth and community-based services completed the program.
The Casey Foundation is expanding the RJJ footprint in 2019 by launching a Train-the-Trainer Institute for 30 new trainers who, in turn, will bring the concepts and training methodologies to a broader audience around the country. School & Main Institute will host a two-and-a-half-day Training Institute in Denver from May 7–9, 2019. SMI has designed the Institute to be interactive and focus on RJJ’s core curriculum and concepts and instructional strategies for maximizing adult learning back home. Attendance will be limited to two-person teams from 15 jurisdictions around the U.S. Upon completion of the Training Institute, the two-person training teams will be responsible for delivering the RJJ curriculum to a multi-agency cohort in their home communities between May and December 2019.
RJJ is open to any state or local juvenile justice jurisdiction, including JDAI sites and other jurisdictions seeking to improve their system outcomes by providing alternatives to incarceration, instilling a positive youth development mindset and increasing cross-system collaboration. Jurisdictions that apply are required to include staff from juvenile probation as members of their overall core team.
Three criteria will be used to assess a site's readiness.
- Leadership commitment and capacity: sites are informed, understand, promote and support systems change and commit to fostering the Positive Youth Development and cross-systems mindset and approach within their jurisdictions.
- Investment: sites commit to investing in the overall training process and ensure newly trained instructors are supported and able to deliver the RJJ curriculum within their jurisdictions between May and December 2019.
- Trainer selection process: sites will create a local process to identify and select two trainers. Preference will be given to sites who are able to commit to covering all associated costs of sending one of the trainers to the May 7-9, 2019 Train-the-Trainer Institute. SMI, via a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, will cover the costs of sending the second trainer.
Optimal two-person training teams should be comprised of individuals who:
- represent a mix of cultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds reflective of the jurisdiction;
- have demonstrated their effectiveness in delivering some form of professional development and are able to create dynamic, interactive learning experiences for adult learners; and
- can connect with others, transfer knowledge on youth development with authority, apply principles promoted in the RJJ curriculum and understand their trainees’ perspectives.
The RJJ curriculum is comprised of six course modules, which are described below. Course instruction is provided in a classroom setting for a total of six hours of classroom time for each module, or a total of 36 classroom hours.
Module 1: Introduction to Positive Youth Development (PYD) Fundamentals
Participants develop a basic understanding of positive youth development principles with an overview of the critical importance of PYD in today’s youth work. The emphasis is on how to enable students to understand and integrate the concepts of PYD and adolescent brain development into daily practice and shift perceptions to see youth as assets and believe in young people’s potential.
Module 2: Utilizing a Cross-Systems Approach
Participants look at the essential nature of partnership development and collaboration and its role in fostering cross-system work between and across agencies and departmental units and among juvenile justice service professionals.
Module 3: Addressing Racial & Ethnic Disparities in the Juvenile Justice System
Through in-depth discussions and activities, participants explore the nature and extent of implicit bias and racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system. The focus is on being aware of and receptive to strategies that address disparities.
Module 4: Utilizing Authentic Youth Voice and Youth Leadership with a PYD Mindset and Cross-Systems Approach
Participants learn more about what youth voice is and how it can be used better in the juvenile justice environment. The focus is on specific strategies for empowering youth and moving the juvenile justice system towards a new vision of the role young people can play in the ownership of the outcomes they hope to achieve.
Module 5: Fostering Positive Family Relationships in the Juvenile Justice System
Establishing positive, authentic and trusting relationships with the parents and families of youth in the justice system is essential to helping youth participate in and transition successfully from placements into positive community life. With no one-size-fits-all prescription, professionals can help strengthen family and community ties that recognize and promote their role in the development of youth plans.
Module 6: Transforming Policy and Practice: Final Presentations, Reflections and Recommendations
In the final session, participants discuss the impact of this training on their mindset and practice. Leadership is invited to attend and hear the participants present specific recommendations for changes in local policies or practices.
Eligible applicants can apply online. Applications will be accepted through February 15, 2019. Preference for selection will be given to applicants that commit to covering the travel costs of at least one of its two participants, including some meals and incidentals. The cost is estimated to be between $1,000–$1,500 depending on travel costs to Denver, Colorado.
The site must absorb the time allocated to its staff attending the RJJ Training Institute from May 7–9, 2019, planning and implementation of the local training series, and monthly coaching calls with SMI instructors. The site also will cover the travel and per diem costs related to one of its two participants attending the May Training Institute. This is estimated to be between $1,000–$1,500, depending on travel costs to Denver.
SMI, through a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, will cover the cost of professional trainers and course instructors, course preparation, all associated materials, online and phone-based coaching, support and follow up for RJJ Train-the-Trainer participants and will also cover travel expenses and meals for one team member to participate in the May Institute.
Training teams should plan to enroll between 25 and 30 participants for a cohort roster.
The Annie E. Casey Foundation and its partners at SMI and the Pretrial Justice Institute will host a webinar at 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday, February 5, 2019, to review:
- a brief history of the RJJ and pilot results from Massachusetts and Pima County, Ariz.;
- overview of the RJJ Train-the-Trainer Institute scheduled for May 7–9, 2019;
- expectations and technical assistance for local RJJ training;
- what applicants need to know to apply; and
- what to expect if selected.
Register for the webinar by February 1, 2019
- Feb. 1: Register for Feb. 5 webinar
- Feb. 5: Webinar
- Feb. 15: Applications due
- Mar. 15: Finalists selected and notified
- Apr. 11: Training Institute preparation webinar
- May 7–9: RJJ Training Institute
- May–Dec.: Site-based training delivery and technical assistance hub operational
- Oct. 15: Implementation debrief with training teams
- Dec. 31: Final evaluation
Please contact David Brown, senior associate at the Casey Foundation.