Skip to main content


Washington was selected as the fourth Models for Change state for its use of evidence-based interventions with juvenile offenders, its application of program evaluation and cost-benefit analysis techniques to juvenile justice policy-making, and the progress it has made in combating disproportionate minority contact and integrating juvenile justice programs with child welfare and mental health services.


Models for Change is working to transform the juvenile justice system by focusing on the following three targeted issues in Washington. A more detailed description is available in the Washington Models for Change Work Plan:

  1. expanding alternatives to formal processing and secure confinement, primarily focusing on status offenders/truant youth
  2. reducing racial and ethnic disparities
  3. improving the way the system identifies and responds to youth with mental health needs

In addition to these strategic areas of reform, Models for Change work in Washington is offering technical assistance to support reforms in the following areas:

  • enhancing the quality of legal representation in delinquency cases
  • improving overall coordination among the youth-serving systems

Local sites and partners

Models for Change work is statewide, but the reform work is focused in several sites: King, Pierce, Spokane, Clark, and Benton-Franklin Counties. Learn more

Work highlights

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

Reengaging youth in school and reducing unnecessary detention with truancy laws

Partnering with Benton/Franklin Models for Change, Washington State University Division of Governmental Studies and Services completed a truancy process and resources survey for each "school building" in Benton and Franklin Counties to determine consistency and effectiveness of truancy interventions, from which best-practices can be identified and built upon.

Enhancing the cultural competence of evidence-based treatment programs

Increased African-American Youth’s Functional Family Therapy (FFT) engagement rates from 45% to 83% by creating a specialized FFT caseload with an African-American FFT provider.

Developing mental health screening protocols to reduce unnecessary referrals to juvenile court.

Working with National Youth Screening and Assessment Project (NYSAP), drafted protocols and created a staff training schedule/implementation plan for incorporating standardized mental health screening into the Clark County Truancy Program intake process.

For more information

Washington's Models for Change work is coordinated by Center for Children & Youth Justice, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing justice for and enhancing the lives of children and youth through juvenile justice, child welfare, and related systems reform in Washington state. To learn more about Models for Change work in Washington, or how to support juvenile justice reform work in the state, contact Michael Curtis at: