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Family Involvement in Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Justice System
The Family Involvement Subcommittee of the Mental Health/Juvenile Justice Workgroup for Models for Change-Pennsylvania recently released a monograph, Family Involvement in Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Justice System. The subcommittee’s work and the development of the monograph were supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation through its national Models for Change initiative.

From September 2007 to March 2008, the subcommittee conducted meetings with various stakeholders representing the geographic and cultural diversity of the commonwealth, including judges, probation officers, attorneys, providers, families and youth. Sixteen focus groups with more than 200 participants were held from May to November 2008, including three with families and two with youth. The focus groups provided opportunities for family members, youth and professionals to speak about their experience with Pennsylvania’s juvenile justice system. Several common themes emerged from the focus groups, each of which is discussed in turn in the monograph with recommendations for how to address the identified issues. The themes are:

  • Availability and access to effective early prevention and intervention
  • Communicating respect
  • Juvenile court policy and practice
  • Statewide policy and oversight

Finally, the workgroup drafted a definition of family involvement and set of principles to guide family involvement in juvenile justice. The workgroup intends that these principles will become embedded in Pennsylvania’s juvenile justice policy and practice.

Family Involvement in Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Justice System (2009)

A Family Guide to Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Justice System, October 2012: Written by a team of family advocates and juvenile justice practitioners to help family members understand Pennsylvania’s juvenile
justice system and be better prepared to work closely with juvenile justice staff to promote positive outcomes for their children.

Mental Health/Juvenile Justice Joint Policy Statement for Pennsylvania
This policy statement was prepared in 2006 by the Mental Health/Juvenile Justice Workgroup of the Pennsylvania MacArthur Foundation Models for Change Initiative. The workgroup’s vision is that by 2010 every county in Pennsylvania will have a comprehensive model that 1) prevents the unnecessary involvement of youth who are in need of mental health and substance abuse treatment in the juvenile justice system; 2) allows for early identification of youth in the system with mental health needs and co-occurring disorders; and 3) provides for timely access by identified youth in the system to appropriate treatment. The statement is based on the principles and recommendations found in Blueprint for Change: A Comprehensive Model for the Identification and Treatment of Youth with Mental Health Needs in Contact with the Juvenile Justice System developed by the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Policy at Policy Research Associates, Inc., with support from the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Read the full statement here.

MacArthur Foundation
The MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice seeks to expand the base of knowledge about the origins, development, prevention, and treatment of juvenile crime and delinquency; to disseminate that knowledge to professionals and the public; to improve decision-making in the current system; and to prepare the way for the next generation of reform in juvenile justice policy and practice.

MacArthur Foundation Models for Change

Juvenile Law Center
The Juvenile Law Center uses legal advocacy, publications, projects, public education and training to ensure that the child welfare, juvenile justice and other public systems provide vulnerable children with the protection and services they need to become productive adults. The web site contains a page specifically devoted to juvenile justice issues.

Defending Childhood, U.S. Department of Justice:  Launched in 2010 to address the national crisis of the exposure of America’s children to violence as victims and as witnesses. Children’s exposure to violence, whether as victims or witnesses, is often associated with long-term physical, psychological, and emotional harm. Children exposed to violence are also at a higher risk of engaging in criminal behavior later in life and becoming part of a cycle of violence.

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