MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Initiative Announces its Knowledge Brief Series

The Knowledge Brief Series describes new knowledge emerging from the Models for Change initiative, a multi-state juvenile justice initiative. Models for Change is accelerating movement toward a more effective, fair, and developmentally sound juvenile justice system by creating replicable models that protect community safety, use resources wisely, and improve outcomes for youths. The briefs are intended to inform professionals in juvenile justice and related fields, and to contribute to a new national wave of juvenile justice reform.

Currently, the Knowledge Brief Series include eight reports:

Knowledge Brief: Can Risk Assessment Improve Juvenile Justice Practices?  – This study examined the implementation of risk/needs assessment tools in six juvenile probation offices in two states, and what effects it had on the practices of the probation officers.

Knowledge Brief: Are Minority Youths Treated Differently in Juvenile Probation? – This study explored whether youth of color on juvenile probation were treated differently in three sites.

Knowledge Brief: Mental Health Services in Juvenile Justice: Who pays? What gets paid for? And who gets to decide? – The brief gives an overview of the effects, opportunities and challenges the changing financial health care system has on juvenile justice practitioners and stakeholders.

Knowledge Brief: Does Mental Health Screening Fulfill Its Promise? – This study explored the impact of introducing mental health screening in detention on staff responses to youth.

Knowledge Brief: Is There a Link between Child Welfare and Disproportionate Minority Contact in Juvenile Justice? – The study examines the contribution of prior child welfare history to contact with the juvenile justice and concludes that child welfare system serves as a pathway for African-American youths involved with the juvenile justice system and contributes to racial and ethnic disparities.

Knowledge Brief: How Well Is the Child Welfare System Serving Youths with Behavioral Problems? – The study addresses the mismatch between individual youth needs and professional capacity in the child welfare system. Researchers suggest improving the collaboration of child welfare and the juvenile justice system.

Knowledge Brief: Harnessing the Capacity for Change – The researchers conducted surveys and interviews to assess the capacity of organizations to implement and sustain changes in policies and practices. Of the five dimensions identified — finances, human resources, technology, stakeholder commitment, and collaboration — finances and human resource predicted an organization’s ability to collaborate to bring about change.

Knowledge Brief: How Can We Know If Juvenile Justice Reforms Are Worth the Cost? – The study used cost-benefit analysis to examine the effectiveness of cognitive behavior therapy with detention center youth and found that the program reduces recidivism rates and provides a significant return on investment.

For a copy of any of the Knowledge brief series, please visit Model for Change website:


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