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demonstration counties in PA.

Pennsylvania is a flagship state on juvenile justice and was the first state chosen to participate in the Models for Change initiative. With a favorable reform climate, strong public-private partnerships, demonstrated success in juvenile justice reforms and considerable consensus on juvenile justice, Pennsylvania is poised to become an exemplary system.


Models for Change is working to transform the juvenile justice system by focusing on three targeted areas of improvement in Pennsylvania:

  1. strengthening the system of aftercare services and supports
  2. reducing disproportionate minority contact with the juvenile justice system
  3. improving the coordination of the mental health and juvenile justice systems

A more detailed description is available in the Pennsylvania Models for Change Work Plan.

Local sites and partners

While Models for Change work in Pennsylvania is carried out statewide, pilot projects in eight counties are demonstrating best practices in aftercare, mental health-juvenile justice coordination, and addressing disproportionate minority contact: Allegheny County, Berks County, Cambria County, Chester County, Erie County, Lehigh County, Lycoming County, and Philadelphia County. Learn more

Work highlights

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

Reducing the detention of minority youth in Berks County through screening and diversion

To reduce high detention rates that affected minorities disproportionately, the County instituted a Detention Assessment Instrument, a more structured and objective approach to detention decision making. In addition, the County established a new evening reporting center (ERC) in a neighborhood where many youth involved in the juvenile justice system live. (Read more on this progress update in the Reform Progress section.)

Screening youth for mental health needs

More than a third of Pennsylvania counties have adopted the MAYSI-2, to flag youth with possible behavioral health problems at probation intake. The MAYSI-2 pilot project is a part of the implementation of the Mental Health/Juvenile Justice (MH/JJ) Joint Policy Statement that was produced in September 2006 from representatives of the state’s juvenile justice, mental health, child welfare, drug and alcohol, and education systems, formally committing the state to improving the coordination between the mental health and juvenile justice systems by 2010.

Establishing an inter-county collaboration to improve educational and career and technical training opportunities in residential facilities and to improve the reintegration of youth returning home.

The Pennsylvania Academic and Career/Technical Training (PACTT) Alliance, is an innovative inter-county collaboration sponsored by the Pennsylvania Council of Chief Juvenile Probation Officers. Capitalizing on the combined influence of Allegheny and Philadelphia Counties, the PACTT Alliance strives to improve the academic and career and technical training that delinquent youth receive while in residential placement, and in their home communities upon return.

For more information

Pennsylvania Models for Change work is coordinated by Juvenile Law Center, a Philadelphia-based public interest law firm that has been advancing the rights and well-being of children in jeopardy since 1975.

To learn more about Models for Change work in Pennsylvania, or how to support juvenile justice reform work in the state, contact Pennsylvania project manager Autumn Dickman at (215) 625-0551 or