What is Operation Youth Success About?
Operation Youth Success is bringing people together to decide what aspects of juvenile justice in Douglas County need to change and how that change will happen. Conversations with over 200 community stakeholders have led to the following shared vision and goal:
Across Douglas County, our vision is a comprehensive, coordinated, and community-wide approach to juvenile services that eliminates the need for youth involvement with our justice system while maintaining public safety.
For all youth who do enter our justice system, our goals are to provide effective, compassionate and individualized support that empowers youth and their families to succeed and to build an environment of mutual trust and accountability.
Why is the Time Right?
There is significant positive momentum to build on. Juvenile arrest rates decreased 15% between 2006 and 2011 and nearly 95% of arrests were for non-violent crimes. Alternatives to detention have been developed and our diversion program has a 90% success rate. Our youth benefit from more than 200 service providers and community-based organizations. Recent reforms have led to more resources and coalitions increasingly coordinating services for specific youth populations (e.g., Crossover Youth).
At the same time, key challenges need to be addressed. Our juvenile arrest rate remained ~50% greater than the national rate in 2011. Too many arrests disproportionately represent black youth and come from a handful of neighborhoods. The leading cause of contact with our system is truancy; and while it is declining, it remains an issue. Moreover, cases take too long to move through our system and families and providers face opaque, complex processes. Information is not collected uniformly, meaning agencies and service providers cannot coordinate or learn from each other. And finally the adults involved in our juvenile justice system need more training on trauma sensitivity, motivational interviewing, and mentoring.
The interconnectivity of these challenges means that no one silver bullet answer exists. Rather, these challenges live at the intersection of systems (e.g., juvenile justice, education, health, welfare), at the intersection of actors (e.g., police officers, judges, lawyers, county attorneys, case managers, probation officers, teachers, service providers, youth, their families and caregivers) and at the intersection of community-wide issues (e.g., poverty, drop-out rates, violence / gangs, language / cultural fluency, transportation barriers).
Overcoming these challenges will require the whole community coming together, which is why this Operation Youth Success has been brought to life.
Who is Involved?
What will change look like and how will it happen?
Ultimately, we seek to improve system coordination, communication, and outcomes. To achieve our vision, we expect to take action in six main areas via seven working groups. These working groups will agree on the key issues we need to address and develop action plans to do so.
Empowering families to better understand the system, be engaged in their youths’ care, and to seek help when needed
- Reducing system entry and recidivism by strengthening community support and increasing access to preventative services
- Increasing coordination between the justice and schools systems by addressing issues such as absenteeism, school based arrests, and reintegration
Improving processes and practices to better coordinate case processing, improve the quality of care for individual youth and create better outcomes as a system overall
Increasing the equity and cultural sensitivity of the system, including coordinating equity-related action items that arise in the other working groups
Improving data standardization, sharing, and transparency, both at the system and case levels, including providing data support to all the other working groups and the effort overall
Codifying best practices and changing policies that hinder the juvenile justice system, including coordinating policy-related action items that arise in the other working groups