In recent years, the administration of juvenile corrections has been complicated by numerous challenges. Staff turnover, media scrutiny, budget cuts, and intense political pressure threaten even the best efforts to align practices with rehabilitative principles and objectives. Around the country, system partners are routinely being asked to do more with less. This is especially true for staff operating long-term residential facilities for high-risk youth. As systems realign and downsize, many facility workers now report seeing higher percentages of youth residents with significant needs, including mental health, substance use and gang involvement issues.
Given these concerns, juvenile justice professionals and their partners seek assistance. They wish to work in ways that are smarter, better and more cost-effective. They want tools to guide system improvement efforts and strategies tailored to serving a youth population with increasingly complex needs. The Youth in Custody Practice Model (YICPM) initiative responds to this call for help.
Informed by research on “what works” in serving youth in custody, as well as professional standards and the field’s preeminent thinking on best practices, the YICPM initiative is designed to assist state and county juvenile justice agencies and facility providers to implement a comprehensive and effective service delivery approach. Utilizing the YICPM monograph as a roadmap, the Council of Juvenile Justice Administrators (CJJA), the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy (CJJR), and a team of consultants provides participating sites with training and technical assistance (TTA) to align core, research-based principles with everyday practice, and achieve more positive outcomes for youth, families, staff and communities.
The Youth in Custody Practice Model offers agencies and facilities guidance on essential practices in key areas such as family engagement and addressing racial and ethnic disparities, as well as practices in four important domains:
- Case Planning;
- Facility-based Services (e.g., Academic and Career/Technical Education; Programming; Physical Health; Behavioral Health; Supporting Staff; Youth Voice; Environment; Behavioral Supports; Crisis Management; Managing the Influence of Gangs)
- Transition/Reentry; and
- Community-based Services
The enumerated practices stem from the view that services and approaches for system-involved youth and their families should be: research-based; developmentally appropriate; family-centered; individually focused and predicated on validated assessments; strength-based; trauma-informed; data-informed and outcome-driven; culturally responsive; and coordinated.
Ultimately, the goals of the YICPM initiative are to (1) promote safe, fair and healthy environments for youth, staff and families; (2) prepare, equip, empower and support staff to provide effective services; (3) increase positive youth and family experiences and outcomes; and (4) enhance community safety. Anticipated outcomes from the effort are listed in the section below, titled “Goals, Expected Outcomes and Evaluation ”
With support and guidance from CJJA and CJJR, a team of national juvenile justice experts authored the YICPM, including:
- Kelly Dedel, Ph.D., Director of One in 37 Research, Inc., and court monitor and subject matter expert in several legal cases involving the conditions of confinement in juvenile facilities across the U.S.;
- Monique Khumalo (formerly Marrow), Ph.D., child clinical psychologist and juvenile justice consultant for the Center for Trauma Recovery and Juvenile Justice at the University of Connecticut Health Center and the Center on Trauma and Children at the University of Kentucky;
- Fariborz Pakseresht, Former Director of the Oregon Youth Authority, and Former President of CJJA; and
- Michael Umpierre, Esq., CJJR Director and former co-coordinator of the National Center for Youth in Custody.