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Jacqueline van Wormer

Benton and Franklin Counties
Superior Court
Adjunct Faculty Member,
Washington State University

VIDEO RIGHT: Jacqueline (Jackie) van Wormer of Benton and Franklin Counties (WA) Superior Court on creating local partnerships for juvenile justice reform.

Jacqueline van Wormer is a problem solver and connector. When anyone is working on juvenile justice issues, it won’t be long before they are working with her. While her love of research and years working in adult and juvenile courts provide expertise, it is her knack for organizing groups to get things done that makes her invaluable.

"Jacqueline is the perfect Models for Change site coordinator," offers Justice Bobbe Bridge, director of Models for Change Washington. "She exercises her leadership in a way that makes everything and everyone around her more effective. She is a one woman clinic on bringing people together to take action."

Van Wormer has recruited two universities, dozens of faculty, and countless graduate students into the juvenile justice reform arena. When Models for Change needed to address the conflicting viewpoints of schools and juvenile courts on how best to deal with court-involved youth, she hired a former school administrator to start talking to principals.

"Truancy reform is a great example of her talents," adds Bridge. "Jacqueline identified educators as important partners and coordinated outreach to all school districts in Benton and Franklin Counties. She and her team took the time to understand school practices and listen to what administrators needed. As a result, they were able to bridge the gap between schools and the juvenile court, creating the potential for more effective and evidence-based interventions to keep kids in school and out of jail."

Van Wormer knows that when you are dealing with issues as difficult to get your arms around as DMC, you need more than goodwill, you need good data. She is developing an integrated longitudinal database that will not only match all referral, probation violation, and detention information on youth, but also their completed risk assessment information. Findings from the new database will be available early next year, creating for the first time in Washington State a factual basis for making DMC intervention and policy decisions.

"Jacque somehow unites the brain of a research wonk, the heart of an advocate, and the personal touch of a skilled team-builder," concludes Bridge. "The kids of Benton and Franklin are lucky to have her in their corner."