Chapter 4: Planning and Forecasting for Juvenile Corrections
Application of the Planning Process

This section will illustrate the application of the planning process just described to an operational and strategic planning process related to two vignettes at the beginning of the chapter. The following descriptions provide just the highlights of possibilities for each of the planning task areas.

Strategic Planning Process: Serving Youth With Special Needs

Involve Stakeholders. State leaders from the areas of health care, mental health services, substance abuse prevention and treatment, education, child welfare, public assistance, and employment/job training convened with advocates for various special needs groups and representatives of several faith communities. They agreed to meet as a task force to address the issues of special-needs youth in the juvenile justice system.

Achieve Consensus on the Nature of the Problem or the Need for Change. The group discussed various perspectives about problems and issues and finally achieved consensus to begin working on developing plans, policies, and programs for female juvenile offenders. They felt that with the increasing numbers of girls entering the system, gender-specific programs are needed.

Organize Information for Decisionmaking. Various State agencies were asked to compile information on adolescent girls in the State. When compiled, it included information on the prevalence of teenage pregnancy, incidence of physical and sexual abuse and neglect of girls, recorded suicide attempts by girls, statistics on status offenses by girls and the outcomes of these cases, dropout rates among girls and the special education needs they have, and various services throughout the State provided solely for or including girls.

Develop or Clarify Values, Vision, Mission, and Goals. The jurisdictional values include:

  • Treating youth in an unbiased manner.

  • Serving youth in the least restrictive environment.

  • Giving priority to victims.

  • Believing that the problems of delinquency are solvable at individual and community levels.

The vision is that the jurisdiction will significantly reduce youth crime through prevention, early intervention, treatment, and appropriate sanctions for youth.

The mission incorporates the Balanced and Restorative Justice components of accountability, community protection, and competency development.

Goals include:

  • Providing services at all levels (e.g., prevention, intervention, treatment, and sanctions in both the community and residential settings) that are appropriate for all clients of the juvenile justice system.

  • Involving the community and supporting families as much as possible in planning and delivering services to youth.

  • Giving equal importance to services for both victims and offenders.

  • Protecting the community and holding youth accountable for the harm they caused to victims and the community.

  • Helping youth leave the juvenile justice system with more socially acceptable knowledge and skills than they have when they enter it.

The group reviewed these areas, asked questions, and discussed how the jurisdiction translated these into policies and programs.

Design Program Objectives. The group developed the following objectives:

  • Within 3 years, the jurisdiction will establish two specialized placement units for girls that will include health services for pregnant girls, health care to meet other health-related problems, and gender-specific mental health and substance abuse treatment services. These placement resources will be fully operational and able to serve 30 girls.

  • Community health, mental health, and substance abuse services that are gender sensitive will be sought for girls under supervision in the community. Community supervision agencies will develop necessary referral and reimbursement procedures with these services.

  • Within the placement facilities providing services to girls, all educational and vocational curriculums will be reviewed for gender bias within the next year, and gender-neutral curriculums will be obtained or developed as needed for various areas.

  • A statewide task force will study the referral of girls to juvenile courts and the disposition of their cases to ascertain whether or not girls are treated equitably and/or if girls with status offense charges are disproportionately confined.

  • The jurisdiction will immediately implement a policy prohibiting the use of male staff in all-female units and will develop criteria for screening male applicants who may work with these girls in other settings.

  • The Johnson City Probation Department will recruit a team of four female officers to accept all-girl caseloads and develop gender-specific programs for them within the next year.

Identify Strategies. For example, the strategies designed to address the third objective above might include:

  • Obtaining copies of course syllabi and text materials for each of the educational programs to be studied.

  • Visiting and observing each of the facilities' educational programs.

  • Holding focus groups of facility staff, educators, and female residents to learn about their perceptions of the curriculums, materials, and teaching methods.

  • Searching for gender-specific curricular materials for the required and optional courses taught.

  • Developing policies that ensure girls are not automatically placed in classes or excluded from other classes based on gender.

  • Developing suggested curriculums around non-traditional female vocational opportunities.

Make Action Plans for Implementation. One person was selected to chair a subcommittee on each of the strategies selected. Administrative staff from the jurisdiction also staffed each subcommittee and assisted in gathering information and materials, arranging site visits, and locating resource information and consultants. Another person on each subcommittee was asked to keep notes of all committee activities that could be used for documenting the process. Each subcommittee outlined its specific tasks and set timeframes for accomplishing each task and reporting its findings to the larger committee.

Locate or Create Resources. For the issue of the educational curriculum for girls, several funding sources were explored, including State and Federal grants in both juvenile justice and education. Private foundations also were contacted about funding specific aspects of the committee's work or program components.

The State Juvenile Justice Department worked out an agreement with the Education Department to designate additional funds for staffing classrooms for girls. Because there are not as many girls in placement, it was important to negotiate lower teacher-student ratios for these programs. One publishing company agreed to donate a small quantity of gender-specific educational materials to use on a trial basis with the new programs. Female math and science students from a college near one of the programs volunteered to serve as tutors and mentors for the girls.

Monitor and Evaluate. The evaluation plan includes:

  • Documenting all activities undertaken by the committee and subcommittees.

  • Documenting the educational achievements and/or problems of girls in residential placement during the planning year.

  • Setting up a management information system to capture data systematically about the courses taken by girls in all placements, texts used, achievement in each course, and girls' completion of educational requirements toward high school graduation, GED, or vocational certification.

Obtain Needed Technical Assistance. A scholar who specializes in education and gender issues at the State university was contracted to review the findings of the subcommittees and help the committee form additional specific program objectives and strategies to better meet the needs of girls in placement. She is also collaborating with the committee to develop a funding proposal to implement several innovative educational programs with girls in placement.

Operational Planning Process: Education of Youth on Probation

Involve Stakeholders. Jeff Johnson and his probation team scheduled an appointment with the Principal and Guidance Counselor at the large downtown high school to discuss their concerns. The Principal and Guidance Counselor shared their concerns and stated their willingness to work toward solutions.

They brainstormed about possible ideas, and Mr. Johnson shared an article he had read about Probation Officers having their offices at schools. The Principal and Guidance Counselor were very receptive to this idea. They agreed to convene a meeting with school district personnel to discuss the plan further; Mr. Johnson agreed to ask the Chief Probation Officer to attend.

Achieve Consensus on the Nature of the Problem or the Need for Change. At the meeting, all participants expressed their opinions and ideas about the problems of youth in the educational and juvenile justice systems. One common concern was that there were few, if any, joint efforts between the two systems that were serving the same youth.

Organize Information for Decisionmaking. Both school and probation personnel agreed to gather several types of data, including the number of students attending the high school who were also on probation, related costs for placing a Probation Officer at the school (e.g., office space, telephone), and legal issues that might affect such an arrangement.

Develop or Clarify Values, Vision, Mission, and Goals. In this case, because of the collaborative approach being considered, both systems needed to clarify their values, vision, mission, and goals. The educational system representatives stated that their primary values included development of the whole youth, including cognitive, social, and emotional development, and the belief that all children can learn. They expressed a vision of significantly decreased dropout rates and increased academic success among students. Their mission was to help all students attain their highest academic potential. Their goals were to provide a well-rounded basic curriculum to prepare students for future work or education; to provide specialized curriculums for students to pursue varied interests and/or obtain help with academics; to provide a safe school environment; to provide appropriate opportunities for adolescent social development; and to recognize youth who were experiencing family, social, health, mental health, and other problems in order to refer them to appropriate resources for the help they need.

The juvenile probation personnel shared that their values included the belief that youth can change and develop in prosocial ways if provided with opportunities to do so; that victims deserve to be restored, to the extent possible, for the harm caused by crime; and that communities have both the right and responsibility to be involved in finding solutions to juvenile crime. The vision of the probation department was of a community in which citizens are safe, youth are involved in prosocial activities, victims are restored, and the juvenile justice system shares responsibility with the community for managing juvenile crime. Their mission was to ensure that victims were heard and their needs were met to the extent possible, to ensure public safety by reducing youth crime and preventing at-risk youth from engaging in delinquency, and to help youth achieve their full potential as contributing members of the community. The department's goals included keeping youth in the community with their families when possible, providing opportunities for youth to experience success instead of failure, helping youth to develop empathy for victims and to repay victims for the harm they caused, and developing partnerships with the community to address the problem of youth crime.

Design Program Objectives. Representatives from juvenile probation and the high school agreed to work toward developing a plan to place a Probation Officer at the school. They established the following objectives:

  • By the beginning of the next school year, high school staff will designate office space, provide standard office furniture, and supply a telephone for the Probation Officer.

  • By August, the Chief Probation Officer, Probation Supervisor, and Probation Officer assigned to the position will work with the high school Principal and Guidance Counselor to develop a memorandum of agreement specifying the duties and contributions of each party, any activities or expectations that will not be pursued, mechanisms for evaluating the agreement and reviewing it, and approaches to resolving problems, if they arise.

  • Before the beginning of the next school year, the assigned Probation Officer will occupy the office at the school and become familiar with school policies and expectations.

  • All youth on probation attending the high school will be reassigned to the caseload of the Probation Officer located at the school by August.

  • The assigned Probation Officer will review all new cases and develop necessary case plans.

  • At the end of 6 months, the plan will be evaluated and revised, if needed.

Identify Strategies. Examples of strategies that might be used to address the third objective include:

  • The school provides the Probation Officer with copies of student, parent, and school personnel handbooks and manuals to review.

  • The school invites the Probation Officer to attend faculty meetings and other activities planned before school begins to become acquainted with school personnel.

  • The Probation Officer gives a brief presentation to school personnel about his or her role at the school and responds to their questions.

Make Action Plans for Implementation. For the strategy just listed, action plans will include the following:

  • The assigned Probation Officer and Guidance Counselor will meet on a weekly basis to discuss implementation of the program, share information, and work out details.

  • The probation department will make necessary arrangements for regular communication with the assigned Probation Officer to keep him or her up to date with departmental issues.

  • The Probation Officer will endeavor to meet informally with various school staff members to explain his or her role and offer assistance to school personnel, as appropriate.

Locate or Create Resources. Most of the resources needed for this plan are available; they just need to be allocated somewhat differently from how they were allocated in the past. No additional staff are required, and the physical facilities needed can be acquired without extra expense. Caseloads will be realigned slightly, and adjustments will need to be made by other officers, because the probation office has had a policy of having two officers work until 9:00 p.m. daily. The officer assigned to the school will be taken out of the rotation for working evenings. Also, probation personnel will have to arrange backup coverage for the officer assigned to the school in case she or he is ill, is on leave, or needs assistance.

Monitor and Evaluate. The Chief Probation Officer and the officer assigned to the school will meet with the Principal and Guidance Counselor monthly for the first 6 months to discuss the project and make any necessary adjustments. The Probation Officer is to document activities carefully for process evaluation purposes. The Probation Officer also will keep records of youth probationers seen at the school and their status in areas such as truancy, grades, and disciplinary actions. Other at-risk youth counseled for prevention purposes also will be documented. The Probation Officer will record requests from teachers and other school personnel for assistance in working with these youth.

Obtain Needed Technical Assistance. During the process of developing the memorandum of agreement, the probation department and the school wish to find examples of school/probation partnerships in other communities to gain a better understanding of the possible roles the Probation Officer may assume in the school setting and any problems encountered that should be avoided. They will request referrals from both probation and professional education organizations to learn of jurisdictions in which such arrangements are in place.

Chapter 4 Contents

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Jurisdictional Technical Assistance Package for Juvenile Corrections Report - December 2000