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Improving Data Capacity

Juvenile justice practitioners, administrators and policymakers have increasingly focused on data-informed decision-making in recent years, yet many agencies lack data infrastructure that can consistently collect, analyze and apply the information to make system improvements. In 2015, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) within the Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, launched two projects to identify the data needed for sound measurement and management practices to effectively reduce reoffending and improve outcomes for youths: the Initiative to Develop Juvenile Reentry Measurement Standards (RS) and the Juvenile Justice Model Data Project (MDP). The PbS Learning Institute (PbS) was selected for the RS project to develop a model for measuring reentry services and the National Center for Juvenile Justice (NCJJ) was selected for the MDP project to develop recommendations on model measures, data elements and coding categories for the entire juvenile justice system from arrest through reentry.

Together, these complementary projects offer a holistic approach to ensure agencies are equipped to effectively collect, analyze and report data to inform strategic decision-making and monitor progress in improving services and outcomes in juvenile reentry. Findings from both projects set the foundation for upcoming training opportunities.

The first available training will be in April 2020 via virtual institute, hosted by the project team in partnership with OJJDP. Agency groups in attendance will have an opportunity to learn about the recommended data collection, analysis and reporting processes, discuss their own reentry data capacity with the project team’s experts and apply for on-site training and technical assistance.

The on-site training and technical assistance programs will provide effective implementation strategies for cross-agency collaborations in data-sharing and measuring reentry services and outcomes, including best practices for measuring reoffending so it can be monitored across programs and jurisdictions. Selected applicants will receive a site visit for an assessment and to develop a data improvement plan. Sites will receive coaching to discuss progress, provide consultation, identify strategies for improvements and connect the sites to additional resources and experts.

Reentry Measurement Goals and Standards

The project resulted in a framework of standards and measures grounded in research and practice to assess youths’ preparedness and readiness when they leave residential placement and when their post-placement supervision and/or system involvement ends. The framework is grounded by guiding principles of fairness, accountability, family and collaboration and is organized by reentry domains key to preventing reoffending and achieving positive youth outcomes such as education and employment, well-being and health and connection to community as well as domains for best reentry practices such as assessment, case management and quality improvement and assurance. Each domain includes a list of measures that provide timely, short-term indicators of how well agencies prepare youths for reentry and how ready the youths feel as they are returning to the community.

Be fair:

  • Ensure all youths are treated fairly; and
  • Promote racial, ethnic and gender parity.

Hold youths accountable without criminalizing normal adolescent behavior:

  • Use a system of graduated sanctions that are age-appropriate and flexible to meet youths’ unique needs; and
  • Promote positive behavior changes through incentives and positive reinforcement.

Value families:

  • Engage families as valued partners in development and implementation of all planning; and
  • Maximize families’ strengths to help their child succeed.

Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate:

  • Establish a state-level multi-agency entity to ensure youths have accesses to services; and
  • Ensure a multi-disciplinary team develops, implements and continually monitors all youths’
    reentry plans.

Assessment Goal:

To determine appropriate placements, levels of supervision and services and what personal strengths and/or specific individual factors might influence their effectiveness.


  1. Assess all youths using empirically-validated tools that are guided by the principles of risk-need-responsivity, are appropriate for the youths and administered by trained and qualified staff.
  2. Complete additional assessments to gather information relevant to youths’ successful reentry planning.
  3. Use risk-need-responsivity assessments to match youths with the appropriate level of supervision and types and dosage of services and how to intervene effectively.

Reentry Planning Goal:

To develop reentry plans that provide the roadmap for youths to transition from juvenile justice custody/supervision to living and thriving post-system involvement.


  1. Begin reentry planning as soon as all youths arrive in placement.
  2. Establish a multi-disciplinary/agency team to develop, implement and continually monitor all youths’ case management and reentry plans.
  3. Use assessments, prior history, progress reports and collateral contacts to inform case management and reentry planning.
  4. Identify and prioritize youths’ needs and set clear goals, objectives and action steps that can be measured and adjusted.
  5. Ensure youths and families participate in reentry planning meetings and understand the expectations and responses to non-compliance.
Case Management Goal:

To provide consistent, relationally-grounded support and meaningful, prompt access to services.


  1. Assign a reentry case manager as soon as every child arrives in placement.
  2. Ensure the case manager engages youths in a developmental relationship.
  3. Ensure the case manager develops a real and sustainable connection with families.
  4. Ensure all services indicated as needed by the multi-disciplinary/agency team have been provided.
  5. Ensure all youths and families have meaningful, prompt access to the services and supports needed to make the youth’s reentry successful.
Continuous Quality Improvement Goal:

To apply a continuous quality improvement process based on ongoing data collection and analysis of program fidelity.

  1. Ensure fidelity of youths’ assessment and their seamless transition to services, school and employment in the community.
  2. Match youths appropriately to the program’s target population.
  3. Ensure staff are qualified, well-trained and well-supervised.
  4. Provide appropriate treatment dosage and duration.
  5. Collect and use data regularly to assess, monitor and adjust practices to adhere to the program model.

Education and Employment Goal:

To develop a long-term career pathway with primary input from the youths that lays out the
sequence of education, training and workforce skills they need to obtain and retain employment.


  1. Ensure all youths have a clear plan for their long-term education and employment.
  2. Ensure all youths complete their academic goals including higher education.
  3. Ensure all youths complete their career technical education or skills goals.
  4. Ensure all youths master employability skills necessary to obtain and sustain employment.
  5. Connect all youths to meaningful employment.
  6. Ensure all youths have access to all documents necessary to obtain and sustain employment.
  7. Ensure all youths have access to all supports necessary to obtain and sustain employment.

Well-being and Health Goal:

To respond to all youths’ needs and experiences to establish well-being and good health.


  1. Ensure all youths feel safe physically, emotionally and psychologically.
  2. Ensure all youths are healthy physically, emotionally and psychologically.
  3. Ensure all youths cultivate a sense of hope and purpose.
  4. Ensure all youths have mastered social competencies and resiliency skills.
  5. Teach youths lifelong healthy habits.

Community Connection and Contribution Goal:

To ensure youths develop long-term social connections and a sense of belonging in the community.


  1. Ensure all youths develop trusting, reciprocal relationships with prosocial adults and peers.
  2. Ensure youths develop strategies to negotiate with negative peers and gang relationships.
  3. Ensure all youths develop civic awareness and promote positive values.

Apply To Join

PbS uniquely offers participants outcome measures aligned with research and best practices to manage facility and program operations, programs and services in a timely manner so leaders and staff can continuously monitor conditions of confinement and quality of life.