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Illinois, the second Models for Change state, was chosen because of its strong juvenile justice leadership, its potential for collaboration, its community and civic engagement, its ongoing reform efforts, and its receptivity to and readiness for change at many points throughout the juvenile justice system.


Models for Change is focusing on transforming the juvenile justice system by targeting three issues in Illinois. A more detailed description is available in the Illinois Models for Change Work Plan:

  1. “right-sizing” the juvenile court’s jurisdiction,
  2. expanding community-based alternatives to the confinement and formal processing of juveniles, and
  3. reducing disproportionate minority contact with the juvenile justice system.

Local sites and partners

Much of the Illinois Models for Change work is also being conducted at the state level, but there are five demonstration sites involved in expanding community-based alternatives to formal processing and confinement: Cook County, DuPage County, Ogle County, Peoria County, and 2nd Judicial District. Learn more

Work highlights

Examples of reform progress made possible through the support of Models for Change include the following. Read more

Advocating for changes to juvenile court jurisdiction

Models for Change grantees and partners successfully advocated for legislation that changes the state’s upper age of juvenile court jurisdiction to include 17-year-olds charged with misdemeanors, thereby joining 38 other states and the federal government in recognizing that the juvenile justice system is more effective than the adult criminal system in effectively intervening with young people in conflict with the law.

Promotion of “Redeploy Illinois”

An innovative state law to cut the commitment of youth to state facility by changing fiscal incentives to encourage communities to treat and rehabilitate their youth in community based settings is being promoted and expanded to Cook County by Models for Change grantees.

Strengthening community-based alternatives

Models for Change funding for five “community-based alternative” pilot sites around Illinois has helped strengthen local planning, assess community needs, and develop new automated information capacity to manage local response to delinquency.

For more information

Illinois Models for Change reform work is coordinated by Loyola University of Chicago School of Law’s Civitas ChildLaw Center. To learn more about Models for Change work in Illinois, or how to support juvenile justice reform work in the state, contact program manager Lisa Jacobs at: or 312-915-7876.