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SHIFTING RESOURCES TO COMMUNITIES

Shifting resources to communities involves a comprehensive review of how funding is being used and working with youth, families and their communities to develop a continuum of community-based services and supports.

ABOUT THIS TOPIC

This module includes information from two chapters focusing on how to shift resources to communities through creating a continuum of community-based services and finding funding sources.

OVERVIEW

Currently, the youth justice system relies heavily on incarceration which does more harm than good to youth and their communities. Stakeholders worry that there are no alternatives to youth prisons that protect public safety, hold young people accountable and provide services that will support young people who have caused serious harm in ceasing this behavior. It is important to address these concerns while also acknowledging the harm the youth justice system has had on youth and their communities. In order to create change, systems must shift resources from institutional settings to community-based services and supports. By using jurisdictions that have already begun to make this shift as a guide, system leaders can work to develop community-based services that meet the varying needs of young people who are involved in the justice system.

A critical step in this process is finding ways to align financial resources with the goals of transformation. In order to do this, system leaders must create a vision that is ambitious yet specific, match varying costs to federal, state and local funding sources, and develop plans to realign existing funding sources to support the new vision. Through assessing the needs, strengths and opportunity gaps for young people and their families, systems can identify programs and supports to which funding should be allocated. This may look like ensuring funds currently used in the formal justice system are reinvested in community-designed services that support both young people and their communities. While this may seem challenging, several states have already revealed the feasibility of capturing saved dollars and reinvesting them in communities.

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KEY takeaways

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TAKEAWAY   1

THE INCARCERATION-DEPENDENT YOUTH JUSTICE SYSTEM DOES MORE HARM THAN GOOD.

Train and support staff to engage with partners. Engage youth, family and community partners, organizations representing these groups, and other practitioner experts in building staff capacity.

TAKEAWAY 2 

DEVELOP COMMUNITY-BASED SERVICES AND SUPPORTS THAT MEET THE NEEDS OF ALL YOUNG PEOPLE.

The ultimate success of transformation will depend upon how well it operationalizes a strength-based, youth-centered and community-led culture day-to-day in practice.

TAKEAWAY  3

ASSESS THE NEEDS, STRENGTHS AND OPPORTUNITY GAPS FOR JUSTICE INVOLVED YOUNG PEOPLE AND THEIR FAMILIES.

Ensure the technical capacity to collect,analyze, use and present data to inform the transformation process.

TAKEAWAY  4

ALIGN FINANCIAL RESOURCES WITH THE GOALS AND VALUES OF TRANSFORMATION.

Using key transformation goals, clarify the data that will be needed to understand the current system, changes that will be made as part of transformation, and progress in achieving transformation goals.

SELF-ASSESSMENT INDICATORS

Indicators
that progress
has been made

Indicators of significant progress toward replacing youth prisons through the creation of a continuum of care.

SELF-ASSESSMENT INDICATORS

INDICATORS THAT 
PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE

Indicators that a jurisdiction’s system has made significant progress toward replacing youth prisons through the establishment of a continuum of care include:

System leaders have committed publicly to closing and replacing youth prisons with diverse service options.

System leaders have partnered with community leaders as well as impacted youth and families to design a more diverse and optimal continuum of services for the youth justice system that will be largely community-led.

System leaders have begun to work with communities to identify an array of potential services to meet the full spectrum of needs presented by young people involved with the system, including the most vulnerable youth.

System leaders have partnered with practitioners from other youth-serving systems and in other jurisdictions that have successfully implemented a diverse continuum of care; system leaders have hired external consultants and/or experts to assist with this process.

The system has already begun to expand youth justice services and implement elements of a comprehensive continuum of care, such as diversion opportunities across the system (i.e., at arrest and at prosecution); intensive youth- and family-centered programming at probation; foster care and small group residential settings; and, finally, for a small number of young people, small, home-like secure facilities located close to young people’s homes and communities.

System leaders have reimagined and restructured probation to be a service and support for young people and families, including re-training staff and re-writing job descriptions, hiring new staff, shortening terms of probation, re-positioning probation staff in the community and expanding the programmatic resources available to probation staff and to young people on probation and their families.

System leaders have made significant changes in remaining facilities to support the young people still incarcerated, including softening facility environments as much as possible and re-training staff to work positively with youth.

System leaders have begun to engage a process to plan and budget for building a continuum of care, including creating an offense-risk matrix to recommend service options; analyzing population data according to the matrix to estimate service needs; and working with community leaders to consider where local services can meet needs and where new programs will be needed.

SELF-ASSESSMENT INDICATORS

Indicators
that action is needed

Indicators that a jurisdiction is reliant on youth prisons, and needs to implement a continuum of community-based supports.

SELF-ASSESSMENT INDICATORS

INDICATORS THAT 
ACTION IS NEEDED

Indicators that a jurisdiction remains fairly reliant on youth prisons, is early in its process of implementing a more diverse continuum, and may need support in moving forward toward replacing youth prisons include:

System leaders have not committed publicly to replacing youth prisons with other service options; system leaders express concern and worry about their ability to close youth prisons.

The system continues to rely heavily on incarceration, with a large number of young people incarcerated and few diverse service options and supports beyond the standard four youth justice responses.

System leaders remain fairly insular in planning and managing youth justice services and have not partnered much with communities, young people, and/or families in rethinking youth justice services and structures.

System leaders have done little to diversify youth justice services or consider ways to use various system points (e.g., arrest, prosecution, probation, other dispositions) as interventions or off-ramps from further system involvement.

Probation remains focused on control and supervision rather than support and creative solutions for youth and families.

Placement facilities continue to resemble youth prisons in terms of institutional environment and staff behavior; staff have not been retrained to work positively with youth.

TAKE 
ACTION.

These steps provide specific guidance for how to replace youth prisons with a continuum of community-based services and supports. All of these steps are central in youth justice system reform, and can be implemented concurrently.

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Replacing Youth Prisons

Center Youth, Families & Communities in Designing a Local Continuum of Youth Justice Services.

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Center Youth, Families & Communities in a Local Continuum of Services.

Consider how youth, family, and community participants will be engaged in: the overall design of a new continuum of youth justice services; the identification of youth and family needs; the types of interventions and supports needed in a new continuum; the development of specific programs and services; and the selection of individual providers.

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Replacing Youth Prisons

Develop a Continuum of Services for ALL Young People Served by the Youth Justice System.

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Develop a Continuum of Services for ALL Young People Served by the Youth Justice System.

Create a diverse and tailored continuum of youth justice services that meet the variety of needs, strengths, interests and cultural backgrounds presented by young people.

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Replacing Youth Prisons

Plan & Budget for a Continuum of Community-Based Services and Support.

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Plan and Budget for a Continuum of Community-Based Services and Support.

Use experiences from jurisdictions that have begun investing in a continuum to provide guidance in how to calculate the overall capacity and budget needed.

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Financing Transformation

Assess needs, strengths & opportunity gaps for THOSE experiencing the youth justice system.

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Assess needs, strengths & opportunity gaps.

Identify gaps in the existing system of services, supports and opportunities, and invest time and resources in ensuring the voices of young people, their families and their communities are included as a vital source of information and wisdom.

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Financing Transformation

Estimate the costs of services and supports.

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Estimate the costs of services and supports.

Based on the needs assessment and working with young people, their families and members of their communities, leaders should develop plans for the community-based continuum, including estimates of the costs needed for each.

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Financing Transformation

Identify funding sources FOR services necessary to replace YOUTH 
PRISONS.

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Identify funding sources to replace YOUTH PRISONS.

Conduct a review of funding options including: exploring ways to realign existing financing structures; redirecting additional local, state and federal dollars; combining resources across siloed budget lines; and/or generating new investments through creative financing strategies.

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Financing Transformation

Develop & expand community-based services to fill the gaps FOUND in assessment.

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Develop & expand community-based services to meet the needs & fill the gaps FOUND in assessment.

Based on the results of the needs assessment and identified gaps, work with partners to to develop proposals given the available resources.

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DEEP DIVES

CREATING STAFF 
REVIEW TEAMS

Learn about how to develop an ongoing staff review team with membership from staff at every level of the agency to facilitate organizational culture change.

UTILIZING SYSTEM Assessments

Learn about how to how to structure and utilize
system assessments to advance system transformation.

TYPES OF
DATA ANALYSIS

Learn about the different types of analyses that can be useful tools in examining current practice, understanding changes and trends in practice. .

TIPS & Case Studies

Take a look at some tips and notable examples of places working to shift resources to communities and develop a continuum of community-based services and supports.

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Tips

Examples of Diversion Programs to be Incorporated into a Continuum

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Tips

Examples of Diversion Programs to be Incorporated into a Continuum

Diversion Services, in lieu of arrest, prosecution and detention. To provide the greatest opportunity for youth to thrive in their own communities, reduce the entry of young people into the system and eliminate unnecessary incarceration, youth justice systems should create multiple opportunities to divert youth from the system completely, particularly at the earliest stages.Research across jurisdictions demonstrates that young people are incarcerated and subjected to other punitive controls even for minor offenses when the system easily could have responded with a diversion program were it available or utilized.

Many jurisdictions have demonstrated effective options for diversion across the system. Examples of diversion programs and opportunities that have been used by jurisdictions across the country are listed below. System leaders should turn to young people themselves, their families and community leaders for help in designing and implementing effective, locally-tailored diversion services.

Unconditional Release/Stationhouse Adjustment

Police warn youth and/or inform parents/guardians of an incident without formal arrest, and release the young person to a parent/guardian.

Pre-arrest Diversion

Pre-arrest diversion, such as Florida’s Civil Citation initiative, which files no formal charges with court for first-time misdemeanors. Youth may be required to do community service hours to avoid charges being filed subsequently.

Prosecutorial Diversion

Prosecutorial diversion, such as the Wayne County, MI (Detroit) Right TRAC program, which partners with community-based providers to divert youth who are assessed to be “low-risk” from the youth justice system, while addressing needs, holding youth accountable and repairing harm caused to family, victims and community. Additional examples of prosecutorial diversion programs from around the country can be found on Fair and JustProsecution’s youth justice issue brief.

Diversion to Other Systems

Diversion to other systems, recognizing that young people who are homeless, have mental health needs, are abused or neglected, have traumatic stress disorder and/or have experienced human trafficking should be diverted away from youth justice to systems that are better designed to meet their specific needs.

Youth Courts

Youth courts—informal forums where young people play a role in responding to offenses committed by their peers as an alternative to formal adjudication. Youth courts or teen courts can be found all across the country with a variety of structures and formats. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention has a literature review on the subject from their Model Programs Guide.

Restorative Justice Programs

Restorative justice programs, such as Restorative Response in Baltimore,MD, which provide diversion from the justice system, either before any delinquency allegations are processed or post-adjudication, as an alternative to formal court-ordered services or sanctions. As experience with restorative justice has continued to grow its potential as an approach to even quite serious offenses, including those that resulted in grievous harm, is increasingly recognized. Other examples include Common Justice and Impact Justice.

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Case Study

Out-of-Home Placement with a Family: Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care

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Case Study

Out-of-Home Placement with a Family: Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care

Ideally, any out of home placement will be with a supportive family. Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care for Adolescents (MTFC-A)—sometimes referred to as Treatment Foster Care Oregon—is an evidence-based, short-term foster care program specifically designed for adolescents who are justice system involved. MTFC-A has been implemented in over 100 locations nationally and internationally. This program supports foster parents in meeting the special needs of young people who have been involved with the youth justice system, as well as supporting the young person’s family in preparing to bring the young person home. This simple yet uncommon element—ensuring a successful transition from placement to home by working intensively with the family and young person from the first day of placement—is essential for all forms of out-of-home placement.

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Case Study

NYC Close to Home Early Implementation Experience

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Case Study

NYC Close to Home Early Implementation Experience

Close to home (C2H) is an initiative created to reform the New York City’s juvenile justice system, ending the use of state youth prisons that are outside the city and limiting the use of incarceration overall. It primarily expanded community-based, non-residential home-like facilities as an alternative to incarceration for youth sentenced to out-of-home placement. This has helped youth stay close to their communities and connected to their families. The initiative supports youth in their transition back into their communities after release to aid them in becoming successful, productive adults. At the heart of the success of C2H were the local agencies and organizations dedicated to providing better outcomes for youth, their families and their communities while enhancing public safety.

Read more about Close to Home in New York in the Columbia Justice Lab’s report: Moving Beyond Youth Prisons

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WATCH WEBINAR

Shifting Resources to Communities

This panel brought together a group of experts to discuss ways that youth justice systems can shift resources, especially financial, to community-led and -owned supports for young people.

Learn More about this Webinar
WEBINAR

CENTERING YOUTH & FAMILIES

AIRED MARCH 23, 2022 @ 3PM EDT

This discussion covered both the why and the how of having the most impacted youth and families leading transformation.

PANELISTS

HERNAN CARVENTE MARTINEZ

National Youth Partnership Strategist,
Youth First Initiative

MODERATOR

XIUHTECUTLI SOTO

New Mexico Youth Justice Coalition

KATHY WRIGHT

Executive Director,
New Jersey Parents Caucus

TJ  BOHL

Administrator,
Pierce County Juvenile Court

HIGHLIGHTS

Kathy Wright, Executive Director of New Jersey Parents Caucus, talks about the need to learn about the impact of the system directly from young people who experienced it and to trust them to lead if we are to create change.

Xiuhtecutli (Xiuy) Soto of the New Mexico Youth Justice Coalition speaks about how transforming youth justice begins with having patience with, providing support for, and relating to young people like him.

TJ Bohl, Administrator at Pierce County Juvenile Court, on some of the cultural obstacles inside the system to collaborating with communities, and the need for system leaders to overcome defensiveness to building a path forward together.

EXPLORE OTHER PANELS

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