Theoretical Framework for Intensive Aftercare

The Intensive Aftercare Program (IAP) initiative, funded by OJJDP in 1988, created a sustained focus on solving the problem of community reintegration following the release of high-risk juvenile offenders from secure confinement. Researchers David Altschuler and Troy Armstrong developed the theoretical framework for this reintegration process. The framework emphasizes effective intervention based not only on intensive supervision and services but also on a process that focuses on reintegration during incarceration via a highly structured and gradual transition period to bridge the gap between institutionalization and aftercare. Elements of their formative work underscored the importance of preparing youth for progressively increased responsibility and freedom in the community, facilitating youth-community interaction and involvement, linking the offender with community support systems, and monitoring youth progress.8

After 7 years of research, development, and training, the IAP project established five competitively selected demonstration sites to test the model over a 5-year period: Denver, CO; Las Vegas, NV; Camden and Newark, NJ (which subsequently discontinued participation); and Norfolk, VA. The remaining sites are being independently evaluated through a grant to the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. A research preview released in December 1998 summarized some of the evaluation queries and early findings.9

Each demonstration test site has tailored the IAP model to its specific needs and local context. The IAP model is a descriptive, multifaceted, integrated approach designed to closely monitor juvenile offenders, enhance aftercare service delivery based on acknowledged risk and protective factors, forge working collaborations among diverse agencies and individuals, and reduce recidivism.

Among the elements critical to successfully translating IAP principles into practice are the following case management components:10

  • Risk assessment and classification for establishing [program] eligibility.

  • Individual case planning that incor-porates a family and community perspective.

  • A mix of intensive surveillance and services.

  • A balance of incentives and graduated consequences coupled with the imposition of realistic, enforceable conditions.

  • Service brokerage, with community resources linked to social networks.

The youth participating in the IAP demonstration sites are serious, habitual offenders in secure correctional confinement, and some are not likely to return to mainstream educational systems. Nevertheless, the theoretical approaches identified by the IAP model for reintegrating juvenile offenders into the community after confinement are suitable for the reintegration of juvenile offenders into transitional educational settings. In particular, the model's emphasis on providing youth with comprehensive, ongoing services and supervision, both while they are incarcerated and when they return to their communities, also applies to their transition from confinement to school settings.

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From the Courthouse to the Schoolhouse: Making Successful Transitions Juvenile Justice Bulletin February 2000