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About

Models for Change: Systems Reform in Juvenile Justice

Introduction

Launched in 2004, Models for Change is a multi-state initiative working to guide and accelerate advances to make juvenile justice systems more fair, effective, rational and developmentally appropriate. Capitalizing on a unique historic opportunity to regenerate juvenile justice in America, the initiative promotes a broader movement of reform based in research and evidence of what works to improve outcomes for kids and communities, while holding young people accountable for their behavior.

Ten years into the initiative, more than $100 million has been invested in support of policy and practice reform activities. The initiative has an extensive network of committed partners and a long list of success stories, from local practice improvements to major reforms in state policy, funding and organization. The lessons, research, models and tools generated through the initiative are available on modelsforchange.net to support reform efforts across the nation.

The initiative has targeted key leverage states and issues where reforms trigger broader advancements.  Models for Change efforts have been advanced in 35 states and supported areas of reform related to: aftercarecommunity-based alternatives, dual status youth, evidence based practices, juvenile indigent defense, mental health, racial and ethnic fairness, and status offense reform.

Advancements in the reform areas have been promoted through efforts of the initiative’s: original four core states; action network collaborations to share knowledge and skills; resource center partnerships to provide technical assistance, and federal collaborations with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Overview

Funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the initiative is rooted in the belief that every young person should have the opportunity to grow up with a good education, get a job and participate in their community. Creating a more fair and effective juvenile justice system that supports learning and growth and promotes accountability can ensure that all kids can grow up to be healthy, productive members of society.

Models for Change supports a network of government and court officials, legal advocates, educators, community leaders, and families working together to ensure that kids who make mistakes are held accountable and treated fairly throughout the juvenile justice process.  The Initiative provides research-based tools and techniques to make juvenile justice more fair, effective, rational and developmentally appropriate.

This site is owned and operated by the Justice Policy Institute with funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Reform areas

Targeted juvenile justice leverage points where success triggers broader reforms. Work in the reform areas has been the focus of the initiative's original core states, action networks and resource centers.

More about these issues »

Reform states

Strategic states that formed the core of the Models for Change initiative's work to develop models, resources and tools to improve juvenile justice systems.  The states were selected for their leadership and commitment to change, geographic diversity, differing needs and opportunities, and likelihood to influence reforms in other locations.

More about the reform states »