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We have learned a tremendous amount in the last decade about how to best serve youth in the juvenile justice system. Through advances in research, we now understand more about how and where to treat juvenile offenders. For example, research shows that low-and moderate-risk youth are best served in the community in non-residential placements that offer better youth outcomes and lower costs. For higher-risk youth who require residential placements, facilities should be safe and operate according to best practices--practices that reach beyond residential settings and apply to the juvenile offender population as a whole. These practices include engaging families, using a treatment-oriented approach, promoting non-residential program options, engaging other child-serving agencies, and more. Further, to ensure youth are served in a manner that promotes positive outcomes, jurisdictions must develop a strong assessment system, a robust continuum of effective services, and aftercare processes. This is particularly necessary for the highest-risk population of juvenile offenders.

However, most efforts to date have focused on ensuring that low-and moderate-risk youth are not committed to juvenile justice facilities. Less attention has been paid to best practices for serving the high-risk youth who are in the custody of the juvenile justice system. Also, while research has shown the juvenile justice field "what works" for this population, it is often difficult for juvenile justice systems to reform their practices to be in line with best practices.

The Youth in Custody Certificate Program serves as a venue that offers leaders the opportunity to develop capacity, effectuate change, and sustain and build on system improvements over time. Specifically, this program shines a brighter light on the serious, high-risk juvenile offender population, and helps leaders begin or accelerate systemic change to improve outcomes for youth in custody. While the need for a continuum of services and placements throughout the juvenile justice system provides the context for this work, the program focuses on youth in post-adjudication custody.

The Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy and the Missouri Department of Social Services' Division of Youth Services are partnering to offer this professional development opportunity.*

After completing the program, participants will be responsible for the development of a capstone project--a set of actions each participant will design and undertake within their organization or community to initiate or continue collaborative efforts related to improving outcomes for youth in the custody of the juvenile justice system. After the capstone project is developed and approved by Georgetown University, participants receive an Executive Certificate from the university and are offered technical assistance from instructors to aid in the implementation of their project. Additionally, alumni of the certificate program become part of the CJJR Fellows Network.

Please see the links to the right for more information about the Youth in Custody Certificate Program, including how to apply.

*The Council of State Governments Justice Center and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's National Center for Youth in Custody previously helped to support the inaugural Youth in Custody Certificate Program.


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