Chapter 4: Planning and Forecasting for Juvenile Corrections
Undertaking Operational or Strategic Planning

Several steps are necessary to conduct operational or strategic planning. While these steps must be discussed in discrete sections, they usually are more integrated in practice. It is probably best to approach them in a sequence similar to that shown in Figure 4:a. However, decisions relating to one area often will affect decisions made at a previous juncture, and topics will need to be revisited.

Figure 4:a Planning Process

The steps shown in Figure 4:a are recommended for facilitating operational or strategic planning processes (Bureau of Justice Assistance, 1998; Steenson and Thomas, 1997).

Involve Stakeholders

Three key reasons for involving stakeholders in the planning process are (Bureau of Justice Assistance, 1998:6):

  • Participation builds commitment.
  • Different perspectives contribute to better solutions.
  • Involvement ensures accountability.

For either operational or strategic planning, the stakeholders must first be identified, and this involves a systematic process to determine who they are. Stakeholders may include individuals or groups that are likely to influence or be affected by the planning process and the implementation, operation, and evaluation of the plan developed. The ideas of each stakeholder must be assessed: What might success look like for each one? Different categories of stakeholders may include those who (Dickinson, 1996):

  • Will make final decisions.
  • Must approve or have power to veto decisions.
  • Must be consulted before decisions are made.
  • Will be affected by the outcomes.
  • Must implement the decisions.
  • Will need to be informed of the decisions.

When the list of potential stakeholders has been compiled, their perspectives and potential contributions should be assessed. Sometimes it is helpful to do this on paper or a flip chart to visualize the group composition. Possible factors to assess include (Dickinson, 1996):

  • Attitudes about the organization and the potential change.
  • Benefits and disadvantages regarding the potential change that may accrue to each stakeholder.
  • The respective power and influence of each stakeholder on others.

Including individuals who may initially be opposed to a program, plan, or project may be a crucial tactic. Their involvement will shed light on issues that may become stumbling blocks if not addressed, and their resistance may be overturned during the planning process.

After identifying potential stakeholders, further consideration may need to be given to the composition of a planning group. Although participation of all stakeholders may be ideal, it may not be practical. Some people do not have time to attend extra meetings and are unable to make a commitment to the process. The size of the group is an important consideration, as well. To ensure efficiency in the planning process, it may be useful to have a large group that meets periodically, with smaller subcommittees commissioned to complete various tasks. It may well be worth the time involved to engage in some team-building activities when new groups are formed (Bureau of Justice Assistance, 1998). It may also be important to consider the resources and skills each person can bring to the planning process. Effective working groups usually require:

  • Information.
  • Leadership.
  • Gatekeeping functions.

    Achieve Consensus on the Nature of the Problem or the Need for Change

    Most planning activities are initially spurred by a problem or unmet need that affects the organization. However, the problem, issue, or condition may appear to be different to various stakeholders. Therefore, it is important to be sure everyone is identifying the same problem, issue, or condition, even though they may not yet be able to agree on the causes or solutions for it. At this juncture, the planning group also should agree on the scope of the planning process and develop a tentative timetable for undertaking tasks (Bureau of Justice Assistance, 1998).

    Organize Information for Decisionmaking

    The foundation for effective planning is good information. Needed information for planning may include:

    • Internal agency or jurisdictional information (e.g., number of youth served in programs, average length of stay, costs of various program components).

    • Information external to the agency or jurisdiction (e.g., potential number of youth who might need services, attitudes of the community, potential revenue sources).

    • Research data on the problem, issue, or condition under consideration (e.g., treatment effectiveness, risk and protective factors, efficacy of drug testing).

    Much of the data needed will reside with the jurisdiction or agency, and retrieval will be facilitated if there is an automated information system. Outside the agency, it may be necessary to look to schools, social welfare organizations, hospitals, researchers, technical assistance providers, businesses, the media, and others for needed information.

    Develop or Clarify Organizational Values, Vision, Mission, and Goals

    Values. Values represent the fundamental beliefs of the organization and are stated as principles or traits considered worthwhile. Organizational decisions, actions, and results are affected by these values, and they motivate the development and implementation of policies and practices (Boone and Fulton, 1995).

    Vision. Visioning is imagining how the jurisdiction or program would be different if each of its values were fully realized and/or if the problem, issue, or condition of concern were no longer present. A vision statement defines the organization's ideal future state (National Crime Prevention Council, 1988). For example, questions that might evoke visioning include:

    • If you woke up tomorrow and juvenile delinquency no longer existed in our community, what would the community look like? How would it be different from what it is today?

    • If this organization became a true learning organization, what would it do?

    • If this agency were to fully meet the needs of female juvenile offenders, how would we operate differently?

    • If this program were to hold youth fully accountable for the harm they have caused victims, how would we function differently?

    Vision statements may be expressed in broad and general terms, or they may be quite specific. It is vital to have a vision before developing a mission statement or engaging in planning activities (Steenson and Thomas, 1997).

    Mission. A mission statement describes the purpose, function, clients, and role of the organization and reflects its values and vision (Boone and Fulton, 1995; Steenson and Thomas, 1997).

    Markley (1994) lists the following critical elements of mission statements. He writes that mission statements should (48-49):

    • Be organization specific.

    • Involve a broadly and deeply inclusive and participative development process.

    • Be the centerpiece of the organization.

    • Be a dynamic document.

    • Inspire staff.

    • Form the basis of organizational accountability, internally and externally.

    Bazemore (1992:64) further states that mission statements should specify:

    • The activities, behaviors, and practices that must change for the mission to be accomplished.

    • The roles of actors within the system (e.g., clients, staff, managers) and how they must change to achieve the mission.

    • The reallocation or development of resources needed to meet program objectives.

    Goals. The agency should have goal statements that reflect the specific intentions or purposes pursued to achieve the agency's mission. For example, in the Balanced and Restorative Justice mission, three primary goals are established (Maloney, Romig, and Armstrong, 1988):

    • Accountability.
    • Community protection.
    • Competency development.

    Goals are more narrowly crafted than mission statements, but they are broader and more general than objectives, which are discussed later. Building on the example of Barbara Wagner, the Victims Specialist described at the beginning of this chapter, a goal statement related to accountability might be:

    To hold juvenile probationers accountable for making amends for the harm they have caused by having them perform community service and pay restitution to victims.

    A goal statement such as this one moves a mission statement into a more measurable format, and from these goals, even more specific objectives can be set. This goal for accountability allows the agency to evaluate the degree to which youth do perform community service and pay restitution to victims to fulfill the agency's mission and goals.

    Design Program Objectives

    Objectives clarify and quantify goals. Contrasted with the clarification of values, vision, mission, and goals discussed above, which apply to the entire jurisdiction or agency, objectives may be developed for a specific program or segment of the agency.

    For example, one objective related to the goal of accountability shown above might be:

    During the coming fiscal year, probation officers will supervise and assist youth who receive court orders to pay restitution and perform community services to ensure that at least 50 percent of youth on probation fulfill their orders to pay victim restitution and perform community service, and another 25 percent of youth achieve half or more of these requirements.

    Such a statement meets the criteria for good objectives by:

    • Stating who is responsible for accomplishing the objective (i.e., probation officers and youth).

    • Setting a timeframe for completion or an interval for measurement (i.e., during the next fiscal year).

    • Describing the conditions under which the objective will be performed (i.e., youth with court orders, under probation officer supervision and with assistance from him or her).

    • Setting criteria for measuring success (i.e., 50 percent/25 percent will complete or partially complete community service and restitution requirements).

    In evaluating this objective, one can look for specific indicators, including:

    • Actions taken by probation officers and conditions under which these activities were performed (e.g., referral to community service programs, referral to jobs programs, counseling, classes on job preparedness, negotiations between victims and offenders).

    • Actions youth took (e.g., number of hours of community service completed and amount of money paid in restitution).

    • Achievement of the desired success rate within the specified time limit (e.g., 50 percent/25 percent completing or partially completing community service and restitution requirements within the fiscal year).

    The objective can be fully measured through process (activities undertaken) and outcome (number of hours worked, amount of money repaid, and percentage of successful completions) measurements.

    Another important aspect of objectives is that they should be attainable (Steenson and Thomas, 1997) or realistic. For example, suppose that the agency setting the objective under discussion here had, in the previous fiscal year, only 30 percent of youth completing community service hours and 25 percent completing restitution payments. It would be unrealistic to expect the program could achieve a perfect score (100 percent of hours worked and restitution collected) within 1 year. But, planning to improve their outcomes substantially from year to year is attainable.

    Identify Strategies

    The objective just described shows how specific objectives lead directly to strategies. To accomplish the youth accountability strategy, the program and personnel will need to:

    • Develop sufficient and viable community service opportunities.

    • Work with community agencies to expand the pool of community service jobs.

    • Plan efficient ways to refer youth to community service work and account for their hours.

    • Create and/or work with community resources to develop work opportunities for youth who need to earn money to pay victim restitution.

    • Develop job-readiness classes.

    • Design a system for collecting, accounting for, and disbursing restitution to victims.

    • Perform victim-offender mediation.

    • Maintain efficient data collection and retrieval systems for assessing the success of the program.

    Strategies outline the specific means through which the objective will be achieved. They often constitute the actual program components.

    Make Action Plans for Implementation

    The action steps refine the planning process even further. They should specify all steps to be taken for each strategy, who will be responsible, the timeframe within which activities should be accomplished, any specific procedures to be taken, and other detailed steps necessary. Regarding the example given in the previous section, an action plan might look something like Table 4:e.

    Table 4:e Sample Action Plan

    Locate or Create a Plan for Generating Necessary Resources

    Resources always must be considered, and there is usually a greater demand than supply. However, there often are creative ways to develop needed resources. Several approaches may be possible with the idea of developing community service and restitution programs. For example, ways of increasing resources or realigning them might include the following:

    • By keeping youth busy with community service and work, they may have fewer unstructured hours to get in trouble; thus, violations and revocations may decrease, and money will be saved on detention and residential placement costs.

    • Volunteers may be used in several ways, such as supervising youth on work details, accounting for hours of community service worked, and calling work and community service supervisors to find out how youth are doing.

    • Grants, local government funds, and gifts from businesses and community organizations might be sought.

    • Modest fees for service might be assessed, such as a small percentage of earnings collected over and above restitution amounts, to defray program costs.

    • Youth participation in money-making activities, such as assisting with a recycling program, might be encouraged.

    Create Monitoring and Evaluation Capabilities

    From the beginning of the planning process, the need to monitor and evaluate programs and activities should be given attention. Both process and outcome evaluation measures will be important. Process evaluation will compare the activities undertaken with the original plan to determine whether the program was implemented properly. Outcome evaluation will describe the results of the project, usually in quantifiable terms. For example, the process evaluation activities of the situation followed in this section may include:

    • Documentation of the members and activities of the advisory group.

    • Number and types of community service and job opportunities developed.

    • Forms and process descriptions for referring youth to community service jobs and documenting their hours.

    • Content, instructor(s), and dates of job readiness classes taught.

    • Number of youth successfully completing the job readiness class.

    • Restitution program procedures for collecting, accounting for, and disbursing funds to victims.

    • Documentation of the number of victim-offender mediation sessions held.

    • Description of information management processes.

    Similarly, outcome measures for this program example could include:

    • Number of community service hours worked compared with the number ordered by the court.

    • Amount of restitution paid to victims compared with the amount ordered.

    • Number of youth fully completing community service or victim restitution requirements.

    • Number of youth partially fulfilling community service or victim restitution requirements.

    • Measures of victim satisfaction with restitution payment.

    • Measures of victim and offender satisfaction with the mediation process.

    Data collection and retrieval will be easier and faster if the types of evaluation activities just described are automated. However, it is possible to keep manual records of these activities if an automated system is not available.

    Obtain or Plan for Needed Technical Assistance

    At various points in either the operational or strategic planning process, jurisdictions and programs may encounter "speed bumps" that slow down the planning process or even make it veer off course. This may occur because of several possible problems or combinations of conditions. For example, barriers such as the following may be encountered:

    • Lack of sufficient information about the problem or issue, lack of research data, or lack of program examples.

    • Different perspectives on the problem, issue, or condition that cannot be resolved.

    • Need for innovative ideas and motivation for key individuals involved in the planning process.

    • Poorly defined agency values, vision, mission, and goals.

    • Lack of involvement or cooperation from key stakeholders.

    • Lack of resources to implement plans.

    • Need for a management information system.

    • Need for assistance in developing performance-based measures to evaluate the program.

    Although each of these obstacles might require technical assistance, a very different type of assistance would be needed to address each. Some of the assistance would be substantive, such as information about the problem and assistance in developing performance-based measures. Other areas would be more process oriented. For example, a technical assistance consultant might suggest or even provide onsite facilitation to resolve differences among planning group members; assist in the development or clarification of agency values, vision, mission, and goals; and help in gaining cooperation from stakeholders. A technical assistance consultant also might assist the jurisdiction or program in developing funding proposals or promoting the agency in the community.

    The more clearly the problem for which technical assistance is needed can be delineated and articulated, the more likely the technical assistance—whether it be through information, distance communication with a consultant, or onsite assistance—will be effective in helping jurisdictions and programs achieve their planning goals. The questions provided at the end of this chapter will help you identify technical assistance needs.

    Jurisdictional Technical Assistance Package for Juvenile Corrections Report - December 2000