Highlights from the soon to be launched Youth In Custody Practice Model (YICPM)

Posted by Edward Loughran
July 27, 2015

The Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators (CJCA) and the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy (CJJR) have formed a partnership to develop a practice model that will guide juvenile justice systems’ improvement at the post-dispositional phase, from commitment to re-entry.

Informed by research, best practices and professional standards, the soon to be launched Youth in Custody Practice Model (YICPM) outlines the steps necessary to deliver high quality services to youth and families.

The juvenile justice field is in the midst of reforming practices to meet the system’s original objectives of individualized treatment and rehabilitation. Many significant developments have occurred since the 1990s, the era in which CJCA was founded to counteract the punitive policies and approaches that were undermining the system’s core principles.  Research on the adolescent brain has advanced a developmental approach in treating youthful offenders; evidence-based programs and practices have informed treatment and services; innovative data-based tools such as Performance-based Standards (PbS) have been developed to guide decision making and improve outcomes for youths and efforts to promote fair and effective approaches to juvenile justice have taken root around the country.

Despite these advances juvenile justice agencies and their partners continue to face formidable challenges serving committed youth and their families. These include efforts to enhance:

• Facility approaches and conditions, such as the reduction of excessive use of force, restraints and extended periods of room confinement/isolation;
• Treatment for high-risk and vulnerable populations, a concentrated group of offenders who have experienced trauma early on and enter youth corrections facilities with mental health, substance abuse and gang involvement issues;
• Family and community engagement;
• Programs that foster positive youth development;
• Fair and equitable treatment of youth of color, including addressing racial and ethnic disparities and cultural incompetence; and 
• Re-entry and transition services. 

Principles and goals of the YICPM present a conceptual map and concrete strategies for the delivery of services to youth committed to the care of juvenile justice agencies. The development of the model is based on the view that the ideal juvenile justice system provides services and approaches that are:

• Developmentally Appropriate;
• Family-Focused;
• Individually Focused and Predicated on Validated Assessments;• Strength-Based;
• Trauma-Informed;
• Data-Informed and Outcome-Driven;
• Culturally Responsive; and
• Coordinated

CJCA and CJJR engaged a team of authors who have direct experience working in the field and a thorough understanding of juvenile justice literature, best practices and professional standards to develop the practice model guide.

I’m pleased to report that the practice model guide will be completed for publication in mid-October and will be used to guide technical assistance provided to agencies. The guide will be organized to provide support for the implementation of the YICPM in key practice areas related to serving youth in custody, including:

• Determining Placement and Services;
• Providing Services and Supports during Facility Placement;
• Transitioning Youth from Facilities to Communities; and
• Supporting Youth in Communities

CJCA and CJJR will release a Request for Application (RFA) in November. This will be followed by a call with interested jurisdictions, receipt of applications and selection of sites. We expect to begin implementation of technical assistance on the practice model in January 2016.  The latest information on the Youth in Custody Practice Model will be posted in the future on the CJCA and CJJR websites.