Chapter 1: The Technical Assistance Process
Involving Appropriate People in the Technical Assistance Process

Although leadership is an important component of the change process, it is ill-advised for a program leader to "fly solo" during the technical assistance process if any real change is to be accomplished. All of the ideas and information gained through technical assistance may be worthless if staff and stakeholders are not willing to accept them. The best way to ensure buy-in for system or program change is to involve, from the beginning of the process, those whose support will be necessary.

The composition of each planning group will be unique, depending on the area served (e.g., local, State, regional), the type of services or programs under discussion (e.g., all juvenile corrections services or a single agency), and the type of condition, problem, or issue identified (e.g., development of a restorative justice framework or overcrowding).

As a guideline, however, five groups of people should be considered for inclusion in the technical assistance process. Table 1:d contains examples of the types of individuals who might participate in the technical assistance and change process in a jurisdiction or community.

Table 1:d Key Individuals To Involve in the Technical Assistance Process
Agency Administrators/Managers
  • State, county, or local directors of agencies.
  • Program managers.

Program Personnel

  • Representatives of service delivery personnel whose job performance and conditions will be affected by the changes to be accomplished through the technical assistance process.

Representatives of Other Service Delivery Systems Involved With Youth and Families

  • Other juvenile justice professionals, such as judges, district attorneys, and defense attorneys.
  • Educators.
  • Mental health professionals.
  • Protective services personnel.
  • Leaders from communities of faith.
  • Healthcare professionals.
  • Substance abuse treatment practitioners.
  • Public assistance specialists.
  • Employment specialists.
  • Organized recreation and leisure program leaders.

Representatives of Elected Officials and Funding Sources

  • Local or State elected officials and/or their representatives and department heads.
  • Legislators, city council members, and/or county commissioners.
  • Officials from private foundations, businesses, and other funding resources.

Other Stakeholders

  • Victims and victims' service agency staff.
  • Parents.
  • Neighborhood group leaders.
  • Other community leaders concerned about youth (e.g., youth group leaders).

An important balance must be achieved between including important stakeholders and the manageability of a working group. It may be difficult to accomplish tasks with extremely large groups.

On the other hand, omission of key stakeholders may doom the change process to failure. Usually, the best-sized group to accomplish tasks is 10 or fewer members. However, there are options for including more people and still accomplishing tasks. A larger group may be formed, but smaller working subcommittees may be assigned to work on subtasks. Another alternative is a small decisionmaking group whose members reach out to involve other representatives on certain tasks or to request their expertise on particular matters.

Whether this planning group is a formally constituted body or an informal group may depend on the level of technical assistance required. Nonetheless, it is vital that the involvement of key stakeholders be considered and obtained.

When considering the composition of a planning group, it is important to include those who will be affected by the changes under consideration, those who have essential background knowledge about the issues involved, those who are most likely to support the changes, and those who are likely to oppose the changes. Those opposed to a particular course of action should not necessarily be excluded. Knowing their objections may help planners and technical assistance providers mold recommendations so they are more acceptable. It is also possible that persons opposed to a change will modify their opinions when involved in the process. Not only is a group essential to provide information and discuss possible options during the technical assistance planning process, but such a group is also crucial for support and implementation of changes that are recommended.

Chapter 1 Contents

Previous Contents Next

Jurisdictional Technical Assistance Package for Juvenile Corrections Report - December 2000