This FAQ page is intended to provide information to agencies and teams that may be interested in participating in the Transforming the Youth Justice System: Promoting Equity, Community, and Wellbeing for Youth of Color Breakthrough Series Collaborative. While many of these questions were addressed in more detail during the Interested Sites Webinars on June 8th and July 12th, this page provides many answers at-a-glance. If you missed one of the webinars, we’ve included the video below.

Please note that we will continue to add to this page as we receive additional questions or identify the need for further clarification. The extended application due date is September 24, 2021 by midnight in your time zone. You can find the application questionnaire and materials here.

This BSC is focused on transforming the youth justice system by revising policies and practices that disproportionately impact youth of color, creating community-based supports, and enhancing the alternatives provided to youth to avoid involvement with the formal youth justice system.

Frequently Asked Questions

Eligibility to Apply

Who can apply to participate in this Breakthrough Series Collaborative?

Any community that is ready to actively engage in work to address the disproportionate representation of youth of color in the youth justice system. One of the goals of this BSC is to redistribute power and resources to communities of color. Therefore, applying jurisdictions must understand and be willing to partner with community organizations, youth, and families in this endeavor in a meaningful and purposeful manner. When applying the application must be submitted on behalf of a team, not individuals. Eligible teams who apply must be inclusive of the roles laid out in the application questionnaire, including representatives with lived system experience, youth justice system workers, community partners, and an interconnected systems partner that will be unique to each team.

What type of interconnected systems partner should be selected? Will all teams select the same types of interconnected systems partner, or will there be differences across teams?

In this BSC, we are working to disrupt the pathways that disproportionately push or pull young people of color into the youth justice system. Pathways into the youth justice system can be found in child welfare, schools, mental health, or other systems of care. The identified pathway may be different for each participating jurisdiction. As part of this collaborative, teams will be expected to utilize data to identify their community’s interconnected systems partner. We expect a representative from that agency to serve as part of the team and participate in this work in a manner that will help mitigate that pathway into the justice system.

Team Composition

Who should be selected for our Co-Senior Leaders?
Each jurisdiction should identify two senior leaders. One senior leader should be either a youth or family member with lived system experience, or a representative from a community-based organization that works with youth at-risk for system involvement. This individual should be committed to systems change and infrastructure development.
The second senior leader should have high-level authority over policies, practices, and decision-making in the youth justice system and/or a high level of commitment to systems change with a connection to frontline/community-based work.

Are there specific requirements for the size and composition of our team?
Each selected jurisdiction is required to have a “Core Team”. As outlined in the application, this team will include no more than 9 individuals representing young people and families with lived system experience; leadership, direct line staff, and law enforcement within the youth justice system; community organizations and community development organizations; and an interconnected systems partner. Specific descriptions of these roles, along with the recommended number of individuals per each category, are included in the RFA.

What if our team has a hard time finding young people and families of young people with prior youth justice involvement to participate on the team? Does our team need to include these individuals?
Given the nature of this BSC, it is vital that young people and families with lived system experience are included as members of your Core Team. The young person or family member should not be receiving services currently from the youth justice system. Instead, this should be a youth or family member who was served by the system in recent years. Additionally, the young person must be at least 18 years of age. CJJR and CCLP project staff can provide additional guidance about recruiting, preparing, and supporting young people and families to participate on this team. Please contact us if you have any further questions.

Expectations for Participation

What does participation in a BSC involve?
Participation in this BSC involves teams of individuals from a community being committed to understanding the impact of racism on communities of color and the youth justice system and having a willingness to think differently about change. This includes everyone on the team being actively involved in creating and testing out ideas for systemic change. Participating in this collaborative will provide training and technical assistance from national organizations that have a history of addressing these issues. However, the ability to bring about meaningful change will be on the selected jurisdictions.

The Core Team (as outline in the application) from each jurisdiction will attend the weeklong Certificate Program at Georgetown University and periodic in-person meetings entitled Learning Sessions (to occur roughly every four months). Additionally, each jurisdiction will form an Extended team that works alongside the Core Team to create and test change strategies for improvement. Other work of the two teams includes creating, tracking and using metrics to determine changes occurring as a result of the collaborative and instituting proving strategies into participating agencies and organizations. Members from each of these teams will participate in all technical assistance activities offered. The only distinction between these teams is the Core Team travels to the aforementioned events and the Extended Team does not.

Expectations for Participation

What are the time commitment and required workload for participation in a BSC?
The time commitment for participation varies greatly by individual participant. Key activities include roughly two one-hour conference calls per month for all participants; attendance at the Certificate Program and Learning Sessions for all Core Team members; testing changes in practice continuously throughout the project; and collecting and sharing data on a monthly basis for each team. Additionally, participants are invited to use a collaborative website to share successes and learn from other participating teams. Before the Certificate Program and each Learning Session, there will be specific “pre-work” assignments to help teams identify shared priorities and prepare for the meeting.

What is the benefit of participating in this BSC?
Based on past BSCs, we anticipate participating teams will: increase their knowledge, skills and strategies to achieve the mission of this BSC, have access to content coaches and staff; engage in testing out strategies to mitigate youth of color entering the youth justice system, collect data and utilize it to drive decision making and continuous quality improvement; collaborate and exchange knowledge with other jurisdictions around the country; and support existing community initiatives related to reducing racial and ethnic disparities within the youth justice system. Core Team members will complete an executive level Certificate Program at Georgetown University in which each attendee will receive an official certificate containing the university seal. Most importantly, the BSC is an action-focused, sustainable implementation methodology. It is not a training initiative. The ultimate goal is for participating teams to fundamentally transform their youth justice systems to be anti-racist and trauma-informed.

Involvement with Other Initiatives

Should jurisdictions that are already involved in another anti-racist initiative apply to participate in the BSC?
We would encourage teams that are already participating in other anti-racists initiatives to participate. Being a part of another anti-racist initiative would certainly be viewed as a strength in the application, as it demonstrates a clear priority for this work. Moreover, this BSC is intended to align with, build upon, and strengthen existing work. That being said a jurisdiction that has yet to begin anti-racist systemic change but is committed to doing so is encouraged to apply.

How would this BSC fit with or be in contrast to other work states or agencies are already doing to reduce racial and ethnic disparities for youth justice system-involved youth?
This is not intended to be a separate initiative or “siloed” from your other racial equity-focused efforts. It can serve as a complement and fit within your existing work, and perhaps support your efforts to put some of your other racial equity-focused initiatives into action (through testing changes on an ongoing basis). In your application, please describe where you have natural alignments in your existing work to this BSC.