Resources: A Developmental Approach to Reconnecting System-Involved Youth
On May 21, 2014, AIR hosted a briefing with U.S. Representative Robert “Bobby” Scott on Reconnecting System-Involved Youth: A Developmental Approach. Resources on topics related to that event are listed below.
This five-year scientifically rigorous evaluation of ten mentoring enhancement demonstration collaboratives, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), aims to assess whether strategic enhancements to mentors’ roles improve youth outcomes. AIR’s evaluation team is working with partners to identify evidence that can shape the design and implementation of effective mentoring programs for youth nationally. The randomized-control trial evaluation involves analysis of data from surveys of youth, mentors, and parents. AIR also provided training and technical assistance to the program sites to prepare them for their participation.
This report synthesizes research, and the voices and opinions of mentoring experts, practitioners, parents and youth shared at a listening session. Co-authored by AIR researchers, it recommends federal support for high-quality mentoring programs and services for children of incarcerated parents. The report and listening session were sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the White House's Domestic Policy Council and Office of Public Engagement. Read a copy of this report and watch a brief interview featuring Dr. Roger Jarjoura, a principal researcher in the Health and Social Development Program at AIR.
NDTAC, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, serves as a national resource center to provide direct assistance to states, schools, communities and parents seeking information on the education of children and youth who are considered neglected, delinquent or at-risk. NDTAC provides technical assistance on education- and transition-related topics for youth in the juvenile justice
and child welfare systems including curriculum and instruction, learning and behavior management, teacher quality, classroom and facility climate, family and community engagement, and mentoring.
NGI aims to improve delinquency programming and practices for, and treatment of, girls already in detention; it also aims to reduce the number of girls in the juvenile justice system. NGI duties include developing and disseminating information on causes of delinquency in girls and how programs can enhance their responses, and facilitating communication and collaboration among organizations and staff serving girls. Partners include the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the National Crittenton Foundation.
Justice experts from AIR are studying the development and implementation of the statewide Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI) – which seeks to foster collective community responsibility; and provide services, supports, and resources to urban males ages 14-24 who are likely to be perpetrators or victims of serious violence (such as homicides and shootings). The project recently produced a Rapid Evidence Assessment that reviews the research evidence of urban gun violence strategies, and a companion report looking at best practices for working in trauma-informed ways with justice-involved LGBTQ youth. The study is being conducted from 2013 to 2015 in partnership with WestEd and the Justice Resource Institute, on behalf of The Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services.
This work in Massachusetts includes conducting a study of SSYI to investigate the impact of police involvement on neighborhood norms of violence in 11 cities, compare community-level violence data from these cities to 22 others, and examine the impact on violent crime by all violence prevention initiatives implemented in Boston from 2008 to 2016. These three distinctly designed studies will combine to form a complete picture of the context, process, and outcomes of implementing a statewide community-based violence prevention initiative for youth at greatest risk for violence.
STTAC, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), assists state agencies and other organizations in tackling juvenile justice issues including disproportionate minority representation, mental health and substance abuse, deinstitutionalizing status offenders, and gang involvement. AIR works with agencies to improve overall service delivery, enhance data collection, and increase implementation of evidence-based programs. The Center has conducted surveys, focus groups and interviews that gauge its services’ effectiveness and the satisfaction of training and technical assistance (TTA) recipients. It also launched a popular web site that reached tens of thousands of new and returning users nationwide in the second and third quarters of 2013 alone. We have helped about two dozen states write their DMC plans and create strategies to reduce the number of minority youth entering the juvenile justice system over the last year.
AIR staff are working with the Eurasia Foundation to share best practices between Russia and the U.S. regarding how to improve child welfare systems and promote permanent family connections for older youth who are transitioning from orphanages or foster care. AIR convened a virtual conference to identify lessons learned, share policy and practice changes arising from the initiative, and identify recommendations for next steps. Project participants are developing a cross-cultural analysis of child protection and family placement, including clarification of child welfare definitions.
AIR identified measures to gauge the New York State Office of Children and Family Services’ progress toward excellence and equity in the well-being of children, adults, and families; and function as a “dashboard” for monitoring. The measures also allowed stakeholders to evaluate impacts of reform efforts in improving outcomes for citizens.
AIR is a partner working to retain family unity, provide stable housing, and improve family functioning and well-being for children in, or at-risk of, homelessness, who are also involved with child welfare. AIR has provided training on mental health and trauma, and provides technical assistance for this Iowa-based project. AIR conducts focus groups, interviews and surveys for assessments, and have hosted webinars on depression and trauma.
The purpose of this project was to clarify, through recent research, the reasons for ethnic disproportionalities in child welfare and to make policy and practice recommendations to the Children’s Bureau at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Among the project outcomes were a database of current research in the field of racial and ethnic disproportional ties in child welfare and a roundtable event on young men of color in the child welfare system.
An AIR brief, “Effective Strategies for Mentoring African American Boys” looks at ways in which mentoring programs can effectively serve African American boys and presents a list of promising programs with positive outcomes. These programs collectively inform how best to serve this population when mentoring is one part of an overall strategy. The brief outlines core principles for designing and implementing mentoring initiatives for African American boys, and considers implications for practice, particularly for those in the child welfare system.
AIR provided technical assistance to state, regional, and county system of care communities operating the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and Their Families Program, including those that have juvenile justice- and child welfare-involved youth as a population of focus. The Center’s approach is grounded in a theory based on implementation science and uses proven methods to reach audiences, achieve outcomes reflected in sustainable system changes in states and communities and invest scarce resources wisely.
AIR and partners, funded through a cooperative agreement with the Children’s Bureau at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provided intensive training and technical assistance to improve the effectiveness of child welfare services for children, youth, and families in projects across the Pacific Northwest, west coast, Alaska and Pacific islands. In all projects, systems outcomes were driven by strong, collaborative partnerships with those involved in the system, requiring significant coaching, mentoring and multiple training approaches.
As a result of this work, in Los Angeles, there is now a robust data decision making process at every level of the organization, there is an in-depth comprehensive strategic plan, and stakeholders, including youth and their families, are involved in decision making and permanency planning. In Navajo, the top appointed political leadership and elected officials, called the Natanniss, train across systems and work strategically together to conduct child abuse assessments and investigations and make placement decisions; ensuring Navajo children and youth remain with Navajo families during this critical time of crisis within a family. In Alaska, tribal and state employees work together in investigation of tribal homes, tribal foster parent standards were re-written and native foster homes are being recruited, placements in native homes have increased, tribal participation in the court process has been strengthened, and the overall numbers of Alaskan Native children taken into state custody have begun to decline.