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     Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines

View map of JDTC Guidelines

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has released the Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

Juvenile drug treatment courts (JDTC) are designed for youth with substance use disorders who come into contact with the juvenile justice system. The new guidelines provide juvenile courts with an evidence-based, treatment-oriented approach that emphasizes family engagement, and addresses the substance use and often co-occurring mental health disorders experienced by the youth.

OJJDP partnered with a research team, experts in the field, and other federal agencies to develop the guidelines to support judges and professional court staff, young people with substance use disorders, and their families.

The guidelines are organized into key objectives with corresponding guideline statements, and include rigorous supporting research and considerations for implementation.

Additional research reports, the research translation process, the list of partners, and frequently asked questions can be accessed in the Supporting Information.

Click on the objectives in the graphic below to navigate through the content of the guidelines or review the complete Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

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Guideline 1.1 Guideline 1.2 Guideline 1.3
Guideline 1.4 Guideline 1.5 Guideline 1.6
JDTC Outcomes
Guideline
1.1

The JDTC team should be composed of stakeholders committed to the court's philosophy and practice, and to ongoing program and system improvement. The team should include collaborative relationships with community partners.

Overview

JDTCs are, by design, problem-solving agencies. Within this framework, various stakeholders collaborate to find innovative and effective strategies to address problems pertaining to specific JDTC cases.1

Evidence

Organizations that serve youth across several systems that identify common goals, agree to share resources, and coordinate effectively through a strong stakeholder team experience greater success with their interventions.2

Practice Considerations

There are a number of components that are important for building a comprehensive approach to service coordination.3 The role of the court in coordinating services should be clearly spelled out in the JDTC policy manual. The judge's role in leading the coordination of services is a critical component of a comprehensive approach. A steering (or policy) committee can provide a forum to discuss issues pertaining to the coordination of services. Case-level service coordinators are needed. The court should monitor service agencies' compliance with court referrals. Creative approaches should be used to provide services, and it is important to provide cross-training so court staff (including the judge) and service providers can understand the context in which each person operates.

Additional Resources

For more Information about service coordination and JDTCs, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 10 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Bureau of Justice Assistance. 2002. Strategies for Court Collaboration With Service Communities. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance. Available online: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/bja/196945.pdf (PDF 589.4 KB).

2Belenko, S., Dembo, R., Rollie, M., Childs, K., and Salvatore, C. 2009. Detecting, preventing, and treating sexually transmitted diseases among adolescent arrestees: An unmet public health need. American Journal of Public Health 99(6):1032-1041; Campie, P.E., and Sokolsky, J. 2016. Systematic Review of Factors That Impact Implementation Quality of Child Welfare, Public Health, and Education Programs for Adolescents: Implications for Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts. Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research; Carpenter, L.M., Lachance, L., Wilkin, M., and Clark, N.M. 2013. Sustaining school-based asthma interventions through policy and practice change. Journal of School Health 83(12):859-866.

3Bureau of Justice Assistance. 2002. Strategies for Court Collaboration With Service Communities. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance. Available online: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/bja/196945.pdf (PDF 589.4 KB).

Guideline
1.2

The roles for each member of the JDTC team should be clearly articulated.

Overview

The role of each team member should be in writing and signed by the team member to ensure clarity about areas of responsibility.

Evidence

Clarity of team member roles is an important aspect of collaboration. This includes how each role fits into the team dynamic.1 Defined roles allow JDTCs to communicate and share information, which enhances effectiveness. Although team members share in the goal of providing services to youth, individual partners may interpret a youth's action in different ways. This can lead to a lapse in or duplication of services, overall confusion, and even different institutional outcomes for youth.2

Practice Considerations

The core responsibilities for each JDTC team member include:3 (a) the judge serves as the JDTC chairperson and has ultimate accountability and oversight for the team members; (b) the JDTC coordinator is the primary point of contact between the judge and the rest of the team; (c) the clinical treatment supervisor (or clinical treatment liaison) provides the substance use treatment perspective for the team; (d) the juvenile probation officer (and/or a juvenile probation supervisor) supervises and monitors JDTC participants outside of the court setting; (e) the JDTC treatment provider is responsible for all related treatment services; (f) the state's attorney (or prosecutor) represents the state, helps identify eligible JDTC participants, and participates in court hearings; (g) the public defender represents the expressed interests of and advocates for the youth participants; and (h) the school representative presents the schools' perspective so the JDTC is aware of concerns and school-based resources that may serve the team.

Additional Resources

For more Information about roles and responsibilities of the JDTC team, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 11 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Wilson, D., Olaghere, A., and Kimbrell, C.S. 2016. Developing Juvenile Court Practices on Process Standards: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

2Dickerson, J.G., Collins-Camargo, C., and Martin-Galijatovic, R. 2011. How collaborative the collaboration? Assessing the collaboration of services for juvenile offenders. Juvenile and Family Court Journal 63(3):21-35; Paik, L. 2009. Maybe he's depressed: Mental illness as a mitigating factor for drug offender accountability. Law & Social Inquiry 34(3):569-602; Shaffer, D.K., and Latessa, E.J. 2002. Delaware County juvenile drug court process evaluation. Unpublished report. Cincinnati, OH: University of Cincinnati, Center for Criminal Justice Research. Available online: http://www.uc.edu/content/dam/uc/ccjr/docs/reports/project_reports/Delaware_process_eval.pdf (PDF 78.58 KB).

3Thomas, D.W. 2016. Greater than the sum of their parts: Clarifying roles, responsibilities, and expectations of juvenile drug court teams. Unpublished document. . Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

Guideline
1.3

The JDTC team should include participants from local school systems, with the goal of overcoming the educational barriers JDTC participants face.

Overview

JDTCs should be aware of the risks associated with adolescent substance use disorder and that youth will return to the same environments they lived in before they were part of the JDTC. There is much to be gained if the JDTC is successful at working together with the schools where JDTC participants are enrolled.1 Ideally, a representative from the local schools will be an active participant on the JDTC team.

Evidence

Teachers and school administrators can be important assets when they support and care for the youth; however, schools can also be barriers if they do not cooperate with and invest in the youth or if they are quick to expel youth.2 School is an important protective factor in JDTC success, as poor academic performance is a risk factor linked to recidivism.3 Youth who do not attend school may have higher numbers of delinquency referrals than those who do attend.4

Practice Considerations

JDTCs should make educational goals a priority for each youth, which may include tracking individual progress on school attendance, keeping up with homework assignments, staying out of trouble in school, and maintaining academic performance. JDTC programs should explore alternative educational opportunities for youth through outreach in local school systems, with the goal of developing prosocial opportunities for program participants.5 Where available, recovery high schools provide safe learning environments within larger schools to provide peer support in small groups. These programs are effective in supporting recovery and enhancing academic performance.6

Additional Resources

For more information and ideas on how to collaborate with local schools, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 12 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Holmberg, M. 2013. Engaging Schools in the Juvenile Drug Court: Promising Strategies From the Field. Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

2Mericle, A.A., Belenko, S., Festinger, D., Fairfax-Columbo, J., and McCart, M.R. 2014. Staff perspectives on juvenile drug court operations: A multi-site qualitative study. Criminal Justice Policy Review 25(5):614-636; Wilson, D., Olaghere, A., and Kimbrell, C.S. 2016. Developing Juvenile Court Practices on Process Standards: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

3 Sanchez, A. 2012. The impact of trauma on juvenile drug court effectiveness. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Alhambra, CA: Alliant International University.

4Rodriguez, N., and Webb, V.J. 2004. Multiple measures of juvenile drug court effectiveness: Results of a quasi-experimental design. Crime & Delinquency 50(2):292-314.

5Linden, P.L. 2008. The youth perspective of juvenile treatment courts. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Stony Brook, NY: State University of New York at Stony Brook.

6Moberg D.P., and Finch A.J. 2007. Recovery high schools: A descriptive study of school programs and students. Journal of Groups in Addiction & Recovery 2:128-161.

Guideline
1.4

The JDTC should ensure that all team members have equal access to high-quality regular training and technical assistance to improve staff capacity to operate the JDTC and deliver related programming effectively.

Overview

When adopting an intervention, staff at all levels should be trained to understand the program's purpose, what the research says about its likely impact, and how it aligns with the agency's mission. In the context of JDTCs, this would apply to the court and each collaborating agency.

Evidence

Regular training helps staff develop skills and manage cases effectively, which can also keep the program focused on its mission and minimize staff turnover.1 The availability of high-quality technical assistance can improve staff capacity to deliver the program effectively in all phases of implementation, and research shows that outcomes improve when staff have access to technical assistance.2 Typically, organizations that have such access on a regular basis sustain both the quality of implementation and successful results over time.3

Practice Considerations

Training and technical assistance for JDTCs should focus on the nature of substance use disorders and the dynamics of recovery; staff skill development and effective case management; screening and assessment for substance use and criminogenic needs, particularly relating to the development of treatment plans; adolescent development and the developmental perspective for juvenile justice programming; cultural competence in working with youth and families; family engagement and working with caregivers through a trauma-informed lens; the use of effective contingency management strategies (e.g., incentives and sanctions); the purpose of each intervention implemented for JDTC participants, the evidence of its value, and how it aligns with the JDTC's mission; and the effective use of evidence-based practices (that address co-occurring mental health issues and other co-occurring issues such as family dysfunction) in substance use treatment.

Additional Resources

For more information on technical assistance and training resources for JDTCs, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 13 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Wilson, D., Olaghere, A., and Kimbrell, C.S. 2016. Developing Juvenile Court Practices on Process Standards: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

2Campie, P.E., and Sokolsky, J. 2016. Systematic Review of Factors That Impact Implementation Quality of Child Welfare, Public Health, and Education Programs for Adolescents: Implications for Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts. Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research; Mihalic, S.F., Fagan, A.A., and Argamaso, S. 2008. Implementing the LifeSkills Training drug prevention program: Factors related to implementation fidelity. Implementation Science 3(5); Spoth, R., Guyll, M., Redmond, C., Greenberg, M., and Feinberg, M. 2011. Six-year sustainability of evidence-based intervention implementation quality by community-university partnerships: The PROSPER study. American Journal of Community Psychology 48(3-4):412-425.

3Cox, J.E., Buman, M.P., Woods, E.R., Famakinwa, O., and Harris, S.K. 2012. Evaluation of raising adolescent families together program: A medical home for adolescent mothers and their children. American Journal of Public Health 102(10):1879-1885; Hurley, K.D., Ingram, S., Czyz, J.D., Juliano, N., and Wilson, E. 2006. Treatment for youth in short-term care facilities: The impact of a comprehensive behavior management intervention. Journal of Child and Family Studies 15(5):615-630; Reyes, M.R., Brackett, M.A., Rivers, S.E., Elbertson, N.A., and Salovey, P. 2012. The interaction effects of program training, dosage, and implementation quality on targeted student outcomes for the RULER approach to social and emotional learning. School Psychology Review 41(1):82-99.

Guideline
1.5

JDTCs should be deliberate about engaging parents or guardians throughout the court process, which includes addressing the specific barriers to their full engagement.

Overview

The JDTC needs to engage families through activities, events, and services to demonstrate that it values the youth and families as partners. Courts must also identify barriers that keep the family from participating, including the timing of hearings, physical settings where meetings and hearings take place, and the family's level of comprehension, and engage the family in resolving these barriers.

Evidence

A lack of family and parental support and involvement creates challenges across the JDTC system.1 Family support seems to prepare youth to do better in the JDTC, which, in turn, appears to result in greater improvement in family support in the home.2 A common predictor of program failure is lack of parental support. When parents or guardians do not support the courts, a greater likelihood exists that their children will not succeed in the JDTC.3

Practice Considerations

It is important for parents (or nonparental legal guardians) to engage in the process. In some cases, another family member, a caring adult, a mentor, or a recovery coach may stand in for the parent or guardian.4 The JDTC must structure the use of sanctions and incentives so participants are not negatively affected if their family fails to engage or participate in the program, particularly if youth demonstrate a desire to cooperate and improve. The JDTC team needs to ensure that at least one family member or other adult will be available to participate in decisionmaking activities for each child.

Additional Resources

For more information on engaging families, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 14 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Wilson, D., Olaghere, A., and Kimbrell, C.S. 2016. Developing Juvenile Court Practices on Process Standards: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

2Thompson, K.M. 2006. An Outcome Evaluation of Juvenile Drug Court Using the Child and Adolescent Functional Assessment Scale. Fargo, ND: North Dakota State University. Available online: http://jpo.wrlc.org/handle/11204/1393.

3Townsend, P.J. 2011. Juvenile drug court programs in Mississippi: An examination of judicial and administrative perceptions. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Hattiesburg, MS: University of Southern Mississippi.

4Salvatore, C., Henderson, J.S., Hiller, M.L., White, E., and Samuelson, B. 2010. An observational study of team meetings and status hearings in a juvenile drug court. Drug Court Review, Special Issue on Juvenile Drug Courts 7(1):95-124.

Guideline
1.6

JDTCs should provide court-certified or licensed onsite interpreters for parents or guardians with limited English proficiency and for those with a hearing deficiency. In addition, all documents should be translated into the native language of non-English-speaking youth and parents or guardians.

Overview

Professional court interpreters are those with native-level proficiency in both English and another language, including sight translation, consecutive interpreting, and simultaneous interpreting, and who the court has designated to perform interpretive services.

Evidence

It is important to employ the family's native language when parents or guardians with limited English proficiency are involved.1 The family's level of acculturation, especially language barriers, has a significant impact on JDTC program graduation rates. This can be mitigated by using native-language therapists, court interpreters, and social workers, and by providing necessary documents in the appropriate language.2 Family support is an important factor in successful JDTC graduation, especially among Latino youth.3

Practice Considerations

JDTCs can offer professional interpreters to parents or guardians with limited English proficiency and/or hearing deficiency to help ensure all parties involved can equally and effectively communicate with each other. All documents should also be translated into the native languages of all non-English-speaking JDTC participants. Various levels of certification exist for court interpreters; this is necessary because the legal language that needs to be conveyed is often complex.4

Additional Resources

For more Information about the use of courtroom interpreters, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 15 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Wilson, D., Olaghere, A., and Kimbrell, C.S. 2016. Developing Juvenile Court Practices on Process Standards: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

2Fradella, H.F., Fischer, R.G., Kleinpeter, C.H., and Koob, J.J. 2009. Latino youth in the juvenile drug court of Orange County, California. Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice 7(4):271-292.

3Hiller, M.L., Malluche, D., Bryan, V., DuPont, M.L., Martin, B., Abensur, R., and Payne, C. 2010. A multisite description of juvenile drug courts: Program models and during-program outcomes. International Journal Offender Therapy & Comparative Criminology 54(2):213-235.

4United States Courts. 2016. Federal Court Interpreters. Washington, DC: United States Courts. Available online: http://www.uscourts.gov/services-forms/federal-court-interpreters.
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Guideline 2.1 Guideline 2.2 Guideline 2.3
Guideline 2.4 Guideline 2.5
Guideline
2.1

Eligibility criteria should include the following:

  • Youth with a substance use disorder.
  • Youth who are 14 years old or older.
  • Youth who have a moderate to high risk of reoffending.

Overview

It is important to engage clients whose needs the JDTC processes can effectively address and thereby increase the likelihood that they will succeed. Research evidence has pointed to these three characteristics—youth has a substance use disorder, youth is at least 14 years old, and youth has moderate to high risk of reoffending—that are related to more positive outcomes.

Evidence

Youth who have a substance use disorder have higher rates for successfully completing JDTCs than those who use drugs or alcohol but do not have a substance use disorder.1 Youth who do not meet the criteria of a diagnosis may be less likely to complete the program.2 Participating youth had better outcomes in terms of reduced substance use when strict program eligibility criteria existed and the youth had serious substance use and delinquency problems.3 The intensive nature of the JDTC intervention makes it particularly well suited for youth who are assessed as medium to high risk for reoffending—greater reductions in recidivism are found when drug treatment programs target higher risk youth.4 Research from juvenile drug courts has also shown that older youth have higher success rates than younger youth, perhaps due to increased motivation and maturity.5

Practice Considerations

Youth who do not meet all of the criteria (e.g., they do not have a substance use disorder, are younger than 14 years old, and are at low risk of reoffending) should be diverted from formal JDTC processing into community-based alternatives. Youth who exceed these criteria and who exhibit additional common co-occurring characteristics, such as mental health diagnoses and other types of offenses, can still participate in the program according to the stated eligibility policy, which does not exclude the possibility of additional needs.

Additional Resources

For more information on eligibility criteria, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 16 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Wilson, D., Olaghere, A., and Kimbrell, C.S. 2016. Developing Juvenile Court Practices on Process Standards: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

2Boghosian, S. 2006. Juvenile drug courts: Using participant characteristics to predict outcome. Unpublished thesis. Logan, UT: Utah State University.

3University of Arizona, Southwest Institute for Research on Women. 2015. National Cross-Site Evaluation of Juvenile Drug Courts and Reclaiming Futures: Final Report. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona, Southwest Institute for Research on Women.

4Prendergast, M.L., Pearson, F.S., Podus, D., Hamilton, Z.K., and Greenwell, L. 2013. The Andrews' principles of risk, need, and responsivity as applied in drug abuse treatment programs: Meta-analysis of crime and drug use outcomes. Journal of Experimental Criminology 9(3):275-300.

5Eardley, T., McNab, J., Fisher, K., Kozlina, S., Eccles, J., and Flick, M. 2004. Evaluation of the New South Wales Youth Drug Court Pilot Program. Kensington, Australia: University of New South Wales, Social Policy Research Centre. Available online: http://www.sprc.unsw.edu.au/media/SPRCFile/Report8_04_YDC_Pilot_Program_Evaluation.pdf (PDF 937.9 KB); Wilson, D., Olaghere, A., and Kimbrell, C.S. 2016. Developing Juvenile Court Practices on Process Standards: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis . Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

Guideline
2.2

Assess all program participants for the risk of reoffending using a validated instrument.

Overview

Risk refers to the likelihood of reoffending. Before providing treatment, the most effective juvenile justice programs use validated risk assessment instruments to assess risk for each participant.1

Evidence

Higher risk youth who are involved in programs are more likely to experience reductions in recidivism.2 For low-risk youth, juvenile justice interventions may at best have no effect and may even increase recidivism.3 In a meta-analysis of drug treatment programs, the risk principle (i.e., greater reductions in recidivism are found when drug treatment programs target higher risk youth) was supported.4

Practice Considerations

The risk principle encompasses two key strategies for practice.5 First, juvenile justice programming should target youth who are assessed as higher risk for reoffending, and those assessed as low risk should be diverted from the juvenile court process. Second, higher risk youth should receive a higher level of treatment and programming.

Additional Resources

For more information on how to identify, select (or develop), and implement an appropriate risk assessment instrument, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 17 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Howell, J.C., and Lipsey, M.W. 2012. Research-based guidelines for juvenile justice programs. Justice Research and Policy 14(1):17-34.

2Howell, J.C., and Lipsey, M.W. 2012. Research-based guidelines for juvenile justice programs. Justice Research and Policy 14(1):17-34; Lowenkamp, C.T., Latessa, E.J., and Holsinger, A.M. 2006. The risk principle in action: What have we learned from 13,676 offenders and 97 correctional programs? Crime & Delinquency 52(1):77-93.

3Lowenkamp, C.T., and Latessa, E.J. 2004. Understanding the risk principle: How and why correctional interventions can harm low-risk offenders. Topics in Community Corrections, Annual Issue 2004: Assessment Issues for Managers. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections.

4Prendergast, M.L., Pearson, F.S., Podus, D., Hamilton, Z.K., and Greenwell, L. 2013. The Andrews' principles of risk, need, and responsivity as applied in drug abuse treatment programs: Meta-analysis of crime and drug use outcomes. Journal of Experimental Criminology. 9(3):275-300.

5Lowenkamp, C.T., and Latessa, E.J. 2004. Understanding the risk principle: How and why correctional interventions can harm low-risk offenders. Topics in Community Corrections, Annual Issue 2004: Assessment Issues for Managers. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections.

Guideline
2.3

Screen all program participants for substance use using validated, culturally responsive assessments.

Overview

It is an important practice for JDTCs to use needs assessment tools for substance use and/or mental health to determine potential clients' level of substance use disorder and mental health status as well as their family's level of substance use disorder.1

Evidence

High-quality assessments yield information that can help determine eligibility and suitability for JDTC participation and also for appropriate treatment planning decisions, thus increasing the likelihood that participants will successfully complete the JDTC program.2 For example, when the Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory-Adolescent 2 (SASSI-A2) was employed to assess needs related to substance use, better predictions for successfully completing the JDTC resulted.3 It is also important to assess co-occurring mental health issues because youth with co-occurring disorders are less likely to successfully complete the program.4

Practice Considerations

JDTCs should use standardized screening and assessment tools; i.e., the tools should include measures that must be delivered in a specific way every time, are supported by a body of research that demonstrates the tools' reliability and validity, and have been tested for use with the specific population that the JDTC serves.5 A trained clinician typically conducts the highest quality (i.e., validated and reliable) mental health evaluations, which allows JDTC staff to learn of a youth's mental health issues and increases the likelihood that the youth will succeed in the program.6 Also, the JDTC team must perform reassessments on a regular basis.

Additional Resources

For more information on standardized screening and assessment instruments, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 18 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Choo, K., Petrosino, A., Persson, H., Fronius, T., Guckenburg, S., and Earl, K. 2016. Juvenile Drug Courts: Policy and Practice Scan. San Francisco, CA: WestEd Justice and Prevention Research Center.

2Hills, H., Shufelt, J.L., and Cocozza, J.J. 2009. Evidence-Based Practice Recommendations for Juvenile Drug Courts. Delmar, NY: National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice. Available online: http://www.modelsforchange.net/publications/235.

3Boghosian, S. 2006. Juvenile drug courts: Using participant characteristics to predict outcome. Unpublished thesis. Logan, UT: Utah State University.

4Manchak, S.M., Sullivan, C.C., Schweitzer, M., and Sullivan, C.J. 2016. The influence of co-occurring mental health and substance use problems on the effectiveness of juvenile drug courts. Criminal Justice Policy Review 27(3):247-264.

5Hills, H., Shufelt, J.L., and Cocozza, J.J. 2009. Evidence-Based Practice Recommendations for Juvenile Drug Courts. Delmar, NY: National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice. Available online: http://www.modelsforchange.net/publications/235.

6Wilson, D., Olaghere, A., and Kimbrell, C.S. 2016. Developing Juvenile Court Practices on Process Standards: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

Guideline
2.4

If potential program participants do not have a substance use disorder and are not assessed as moderate to high risk for reoffending, they should be diverted from the JDTC process.

Overview

JDTCs should not engage youth who do not meet the minimum eligibility criteria as youth who have a substance use disorder and are at moderate or high risk for reoffending. In fact, such youth who are processed through JDTC programs might actually be harmed.

Evidence

Formal processing in the juvenile justice system does not necessarily reduce subsequent delinquent activity. Based on official data, it appears that placing low-risk youth in juvenile justice programs can increase the prevalence, incidence, and severity of such activity.1 Placing low-risk youth in juvenile justice programs may disrupt the very factors that make them lower risk—their schooling may be interrupted, they may lose a job, and their positive relationships with family and peers may be disrupted.2

Practice Considerations

Early interventions are defined as those employed for youth who use substances but do not have a substance use disorder. Early intervention programs are brief in nature and have been found to be effective for youth who did not have substance use disorders. In addition, these programs can be operated effectively in community-based settings (often in schools) and cost less than substance use treatment programs.3

Additional Resources

For more information on evidence-based brief interventions for low-risk youth who enter the juvenile court system, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 18 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Petrosino, A., Turpin-Petrosino, C., and Guckenburg, S. 2010. Formal System Processing of Juveniles: Effects on Delinquency. Oslo, Norway: Campbell Systematic Reviews.

2Lowenkamp, C.T., and Latessa, E.J. 2004. Understanding the risk principle: How and why correctional interventions can harm low-risk offenders. Topics in Community Corrections, Annual Issue 2004: Assessment Issues for Managers. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections.

3Carney, T., and Myers, B. 2012. Effectiveness of early interventions for substance-using adolescents: Findings from a systematic review and meta-analysis. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy 7(1):25.

Guideline
2.5

JDTCs should ensure that eligibility criteria result in equity of access for all genders; racial and ethnic groups; and youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, and gender nonconforming (LGBTQI-GNC) and Two-Spirit.

Overview

It is important to ensure that youth who are at risk of entering and those who are currently involved in the juvenile justice system receive fair and beneficial treatment. Racial and ethnic disparities, gender-responsive needs, and the disparate experiences of LGBTQI-GNC youth must be considered.

Evidence

Youth of color in the juvenile justice system often experience treatment that differs from the treatment afforded white youth, even when controlling for objective criteria such as current offense and offense history. Both male and female youth from minority racial and ethnic backgrounds are underrepresented among graduates of juvenile drug courts.1 Research shows that these youth have lower success rates in JDTC programs than white youth and are significantly more likely to be rearrested and convicted of future felonies following program involvement.2 Like other minority groups that are disproportionately represented, LGBTQI-GNC youth are at a higher risk for many negative outcomes, including homelessness; sexual, physical, and mental abuse; continuous juvenile justice system involvement; bullying; and suicide.3

Practice Considerations

Cultural competency includes creating policies and procedures that respect and respond to cultural differences between JDTC team members and the youth they serve.4 Youth-focused cultural competency should be part of initial and recurring training for all JDTC members. A wide variety of youth-oriented cultural competency training programs are available for JDTCs. The JDTC should also track success rates to serve as indicators of equitable access to all youth and their families.5 It is important to address the needs of girls in a developmentally appropriate way, especially in regard to limiting how far girls are formally processed into the juvenile justice system unless they pose a serious threat to public safety. Gender- and culturally responsive, trauma-informed, and developmentally appropriate approaches should be increased. OJJDP recognizes the unique challenges that LGBTQI-GNC youth face in the juvenile justice system and understands that it is important to provide competent trainings, programs, and guidance to help juvenile justice professionals better respond to these young people.

Additional Resources

For more information on ensuring equal access for all youth, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 20 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Fradella, H.F., Fischer, R.G., Kleinpeter, C.H., and Koob, J.J. 2009. Latino youth in the juvenile drug court of Orange County, California. Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice 7(4):271-292.

2Carter, W.C., and Barker, R.D. 2011. Does completion of juvenile drug court deter adult criminality? Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions 11(2):181-193; Miller, M.L., Scocas, E.A., and O'Connell, J.P. 1998. Evaluation of the Juvenile Drug Court Diversion Program. Dover, DE: Statistical Analysis Center.

3Mitchum, P., and Moodie-Mills, A.C. 2014. Beyond Bullying: How Hostile School Climate Perpetuates the School-to-Prison Pipeline for LGBT Youth. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress. Available online: http://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/BeyondBullying.pdf (PDF 1.43 MB); Burwick, A., Oddo, V., Durso, L., Friend, D., and Gates, G. 2014. Identifying and Serving LGBTQ Youth: Case Studies of Runaway and Homeless Youth Program Grantees. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children & Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation. Available online: https://aspe.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/76766/rpt_LGBTQ_RHY.pdf (PDF 898.2 KB); Irvine, A. 2010. 'We've had three of them': Addressing the invisibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and gender nonconforming youths in the juvenile justice system." Columbia Journal of Gender and Law 19(3):675-701.

4National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. 2016. Cultural Competence. Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Available online: http://www.ncjfcj.org/cultural-competence.

5Borg, M.L., Foster, S., James-Andrews, S., Pearce, J.M., Schiller, W.L., Thomas III, J., Turpin, D., and van Wormer, J. 2014. Practical Tips to Help Juvenile Drug Court Teams Implement the 16 Strategies in Practice. Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges; National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. 2016. Cultural Competence. Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Available online: http://www.ncjfcj.org/cultural-competence.

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Guideline 3.1 Guideline 3.2 Guideline 3.3
Guideline 3.4
Guideline
3.1

JDTCs should work collaboratively with parents and guardians throughout the court process to encourage active participation in (a) regular court hearings, (b) supervision and discipline of their children in the home and community, and (c) treatment programs.

Overview

One of the most important contributing factors to ensure that youth will comply with program rules and will graduate from the JDTC program is family and parental involvement and support.1 JDTC participants are more likely to succeed if parents and guardians attend court hearings regularly and participate in the process. A true collaborative relationship between the JDTC team and the family appreciates the important role that parents and guardians will play in managing participants' behavior outside of court.

Evidence

Research shows that youth's behavior and demeanor are directly linked to their parents' willingness to participate. When the family spends time supporting the youth, it is more likely the youth will successfully complete the program.2 A youth whose family member attends court sessions is significantly more compliant with the JDTC rules.3 Families' distrust and misunderstanding based on their initial contact with the JDTC can undermine efforts to involve them in the process.4

Practice Considerations

Involving parents or guardians in status hearings, perhaps by offering incentives, can facilitate their collaboration in behavioral management because they maintain their parental control.5 Family therapy can help fully engage parents and guardians in the JDTC process.6 Courts can help parents and guardians build skills in effective supervision and discipline, and intensive interventions such as parent training classes may increase the likelihood that these positive parenting practices will continue after the family's involvement with the JDTC.7

One suggestion is to appoint a liaison to help the family navigate the process, understand its rights, and answer questions. Parents and guardians should receive information in a format that is easily accessible, both verbally and in writing, and that takes language barriers into account. Parents and guardians also desire better home-based support to reinforce treatment plans. The JDTC team and providers should offer support, information, and resources to families that are relevant to the youth's needs and that will help the family ensure the youth's success.8

Additional Resources

For more information on engaging parents and guardians throughout the court process, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 21 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Salvatore, C., Henderson, J.S., Hiller, M.L., White, E., and Samuelson, B. 2010. An observational study of team meetings and status hearings in a juvenile drug court. Drug Court Review, Special Issue on Juvenile Drug Courts 7(1):95-124; Wilson, D., Olaghere, A., and Kimbrell, C.S. 2016. Developing Juvenile Court Practices on Process Standards: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

2Becerra, J., and Young, A.G. 2011. Latino Youth in the Washoe County Juvenile Drug Court. Available online: http://scholarworks.calstate.edu/handle/10211.9/1200.

3Salvatore, C., Henderson, J.S., Hiller, M.L., White, E., and Samuelson, B. 2010. An observational study of team meetings and status hearings in a juvenile drug court. Drug Court Review, Special Issue on Juvenile Drug Courts 7(1):95-124.

4Custwoth-Walker, S., Pullman, M.D., and Trupin, E.W. 2012. Juvenile justice 101: Addressing family support needs in juvenile court. Journal of Juvenile Justice 2(1):54-67.

5Thompson, K.M. 2000. A Process Evaluation of North Dakota's Juvenile Drug Court. Fargo, ND: North Dakota State University. Available online: http://aupa.wrlc.org/handle/11204/52; Wilson, D., Olaghere, A., and Kimbrell, C.S. 2016. Developing Juvenile Court Practices on Process Standards: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

6Thompson, K.M. 2000. A Process Evaluation of North Dakota's Juvenile Drug Court. Fargo, ND: North Dakota State University. Available online: http://aupa.wrlc.org/handle/11204/52.

7Carey, S. M., Waller, M., & Marchand, G. (2006). Clackamas County juvenile drug court enhancement: Process, outcome/impact and cost evaluation final report. Available online: http://npcresearch.com/publication/clackamas-county-juvenile-drug-court-enhancement-process-outcomeimpact-and-cost-evaluation-final-report-2; Schaeffer, C. M., Henggeler, S. W., Chapman, J. E., Halliday-Boykins, C. A., Cunningham, P. B., Randall, J., & Shapiro, S. B. (2010). Mechanisms of effectiveness in juvenile drug court: Altering risk processes associated with delinquency and substance abuse. Drug Court Review, 7(1), 57-94

8Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. (2013). OJJDP family listening sessions: Executive summary. Washington, DC: Author. Available online: https://www.ojjdp.gov/pubs/241379.pdf (PDF 4.08 MB).

Guideline
3.2

The judge should interact with the participants in a nonjudgmental and procedurally fair manner.

Overview

One of the key elements that separates the JDTC from other courts is the personal relationship the judge builds with the youth, which is based on intense supervision and frequent contact.1 Staff and treatment providers should provide frequent progress updates to inform this interaction so that judicial decisions are individually tailored for the youth, are fair, and are presented in a way that is not demoralizing or detrimental to the youth's progress.2

Evidence

Mericle and colleagues found that JDTC success could be enhanced if the judge provides structure and takes responsibility for participants if this is lacking at home. It is also important for judges to intervene in ways that increase youth's self-esteem.3 In addition, fair procedures in decisionmaking will enhance the youth's view of the legitimacy of the court and his or her compliance with its procedures.4

Practice Considerations

The judge must be nonjudgmental—the key element is not to come to a judgment, but to hold the youth accountable through the structure of establishing goals and the effective use of graduated incentives and sanctions.5 The principles of procedural justice are important here. First, youth and families need to participate in the proceedings before the judge reaches a decision. Second, youth and families must perceive that the judge is showing neutrality in making a decision. Finally, the judge must show dignity and respect for the youth and families throughout the interactions in court.6

Additional Resources

For more information on strategies to interact in nonjudgmental and fair ways, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 23 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Gurnell, B., Holmberg, M., and Yeres, S. 2014. Starting a Juvenile Drug Court: A Planning Guide. Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Available online: http://www.ncjfcj.org/sites/default/files/NCJFCJ_JDC_PlanningGuide_Final.pdf (PDF 4.8 MB).

2Gurnell, B., Holmberg, M., and Yeres, S. 2014. Starting a Juvenile Drug Court: A Planning Guide. Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Available online: http://www.ncjfcj.org/sites/default/files/NCJFCJ_JDC_PlanningGuide_Final.pdf (PDF 4.8 MB); Mackin, J.R., Lucas, L.M., Lambarth, C.H., Waller, M.S., Allen, T.H., Carey, S.M., and Finigan, M.W. 2010c. St. Mary's County Juvenile Drug Court Outcome and Cost Evaluation. Portland, OR: NPC Research.

3Mericle, A.A., Belenko, S., Festinger, D., Fairfax-Columbo, J., and McCart, M.R. 2014. Staff perspectives on juvenile drug court operations: A multi-site qualitative study. Criminal Justice Policy Review 25(5):614-636.

4Mazerolle, L., Bennett, S., Manning, M., Ferguson, P., and Sargeant, E. 2013. Legitimacy in Policing: A Systematic Review. Oslo, Norway: Campbell Systematic Reviews. Available online: http://www.campbellcollaboration.org/lib/download/2453.

5Wilson, D., Olaghere, A., and Kimbrell, C.S. 2016. Developing Juvenile Court Practices on Process Standards: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

6Tyler, T.R. 2003. Procedural justice, legitimacy, and the effective rule of law. In Crime and Justice: A Review of Research, vol. 30, edited by M. Tonry. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, pp. 431-505.

Guideline
3.3

The judge should be consistent when applying program requirements (including incentives and sanctions).

Overview

For each participant, judges must consistently apply behavioral contingencies across the full JDTC program.1 This is not to imply that every youth will receive the same incentives and sanctions. Behavioral contingencies must be individualized for each youth, but the assigned conditions should be applied consistently so the youth knows what to expect.2

Evidence

Consistency in the application of incentives and sanctions is one of the key factors enhancing the success of the JDTC intervention.3 Sanctions applied inconsistently can actually reinforce undesirable behavior instead of diminish it.4 Individualization of programming coupled with the consistent application of judicial discretion allows for constructive therapeutic treatment.5 An effective way for the judge to achieve the JDTC goals is to apply the principles of behavior modification through positive reinforcement.6

Practice Considerations

Judges should make the juvenile's immediate and long-term goals a priority and also tailor sanctions and incentives to the participants' goals and needs, while still being procedurally fair and consistent.7 The JDTC team should develop an individualized plan for each youth that supports consistent responses, including the judge's application of incentives and sanctions to modify behavior. Just as the youth is responsible for his or her behavior, the JDTC is responsible for how incentives and sanctions are applied.8

Additional Resources

For more information on the application of incentives and sanctions, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 23 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Wilson, D., Olaghere, A., and Kimbrell, C.S. 2016. Developing Juvenile Court Practices on Process Standards: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

2Townsend, P.J. 2011. Juvenile drug court programs in Mississippi: An examination of judicial and administrative perceptions. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Hattiesburg, MS: University of Southern Mississippi.

3Mericle, A.A., Belenko, S., Festinger, D., Fairfax-Columbo, J., and McCart, M.R. 2014. Staff perspectives on juvenile drug court operations: A multi-site qualitative study. Criminal Justice Policy Review 25(5):614-636. 4Gurnell, B., Holmberg, M., and Yeres, S. 2014. Starting a Juvenile Drug Court: A Planning Guide. Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Available online: http://www.ncjfcj.org/sites/default/files/NCJFCJ_JDC_PlanningGuide_Final.pdf (PDF 4.8 MB).

5Paik, L. 2011. Discretionary Justice: Looking Inside a Juvenile Drug Court. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

6Salvatore, C., Hiller, M.L., Samuelson, B., Henderson, J.S., and White, E. 2011. A systematic observational study of a juvenile drug court judge. Juvenile and Family Court Journal 62(4):19-36.

7Gatowski, S., Barnes, E.W., Miller, N., and Ruben, S. 2016. Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines: Draft Guidelines Feedback Report. Reno, NV: Court Centered Change Consultants.

8Bureau of Justice Assistance. 2003. Juvenile Drug Courts: Strategies in Practice. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance. Available online: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/bja/197866.pdf (PDF 828.99 KB).

Guideline
3.4

The JDTC team should meet weekly to review progress for participants and consider incentives and sanctions, based on reports of each participant's progress across all aspects of the treatment plan.

Overview

The entire JDTC team should meet regularly in advance of judicial hearings. Weekly staff meetings should be used both to evaluate youth's compliance and to give staff a better understanding of how to work with each youth over time.

Evidence

The therapeutic orientation of JDTC staff is not limited to connecting youth to drug treatment programs; it also includes the multitude of remedies the staff use to correct youth behavior.1 These individualized remedies, both sanctions and incentives, are most effective if they are imposed immediately.2 The success of this approach depends on the number and types of cases that JDTC staff have to supervise, so staff caseloads should be considered carefully.3 Regular individualized reassessments, including risk level, can help inform the level of supervision a youth should receive and the development of creative accountability measures.4

Practice Considerations

The policy manual should describe the purpose and format of the meetings, how often the team will meet, and the decisionmaking process (e.g., consensus is often the chosen process) that the team will use to prepare for the court hearings. This information should present concrete evidence on how each participant is progressing through his or her treatment plan. Presenters may provide this information before the staffing meeting. If that cannot be done, then during the meeting presenters should share all relevant information, deliver it objectively, and interpret it well so other team members can understand it. Presenters should also integrate their information with other data being presented and should place it into the larger context of the youth's overall profile. Consistent with the principles of family engagement, parents and guardians should have the opportunity to provide input or to participate in the process prior to the court hearing.

Additional Resources

For more information on regular staff meetings to discuss progress, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 24 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Paik, L. 2011. Discretionary Justice: Looking Inside a Juvenile Drug Court. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

2Linden, P.L. 2008. The youth perspective of juvenile treatment courts. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Stony Brook, NY: State University of New York at Stony Brook.

3Paik, L. 2011. Discretionary Justice: Looking Inside a Juvenile Drug Court. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

4Wilson, D., Olaghere, A., and Kimbrell, C.S. 2016. Developing Juvenile Court Practices on Process Standards: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.
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Guideline 4.1 4.1a 4.1b 4.1c 4.1d 4.1e 4.1f Guideline 4.2
Guideline
4.1

Needs assessments should include information for each participant on Use of Alcohol or Other Drugs.

Overview

All JDTCs should have a thorough formal screening and assessment process to validate diagnoses of youth's alcohol, drug, or other substance use or dependence. The process should help determine if a youth is eligible for a JDTC program and should also provide a complete picture of a youth's substance use issues. The process should incorporate structured assessment interviews that lend themselves to creating this complete picture.1

Evidence

Youth who have a substance use disorder have higher rates for successfully completing JDTCs than those who use drugs or alcohol but do not have a substance use disorder.2 Youth who do not meet the criteria of a diagnosis may be less likely to complete the program.3 A recent evaluation of Reclaiming Futures, as integrated with juvenile drug courts, found that participating youth had better outcomes in terms of reduced substance use when strict program eligibility criteria existed and the youth had serious substance use and delinquency problems.4

Practice Considerations

To better understand the various challenges a youth may face when he or she enters a JDTC program, JDTCs should screen and assess youth for a range of risks and needs. These assessments need to be completed by the time the youth first appears in the JDTC (ideally, at intake), but may also be completed prior to referral to the JDTC. Trained and certified professionals should complete all assessments. The needs assessment process must be done using validated tools, assess a greater array of needs, and inform the development of case management and treatment plans.

Additional Resources

For more information on comprehensive substance use needs assessment tools, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 25 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Hills, H., Shufelt, J.L., and Cocozza, J.J. 2009. Evidence-Based Practice Recommendations for Juvenile Drug Courts. Delmar, NY: National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice. Available online: http://www.modelsforchange.net/publications/235.

2Wilson, D., Olaghere, A., and Kimbrell, C.S. 2016. Developing Juvenile Court Practices on Process Standards: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

3Boghosian, S. 2006. Juvenile drug courts: Using participant characteristics to predict outcome. Unpublished thesis. Logan, UT: Utah State University.

4University of Arizona, Southwest Institute for Research on Women. 2015. National Cross-Site Evaluation of Juvenile Drug Courts and Reclaiming Futures: Final Report. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona, Southwest Institute for Research on Women.

Guideline
4.1

Needs assessments should include information for each participant on Criminogenic Needs.

Overview

Criminogenic needs include a history of antisocial behavior; an antisocial personality pattern; antisocial cognition; antisocial peers; and needs related to family, school, use of leisure time, and substance use.1 Assessing such needs lays the foundation for a case management plan that is individualized and focused on treatment and that also is likely to reduce the potential for recidivism.

Evidence

Reductions in recidivism are greater when programming addresses the criminogenic needs of system-involved youth.2 Research has also shown that when needs assessments are conducted effectively, probation officers are more likely to focus on treatment options when developing case management plans.3

Practice Considerations

There are many risk assessment systems that include comprehensive sets of items that assess criminogenic needs. To select an appropriate assessment tool for a local JDTC, it is recommended that the decision makers take into account the purpose for which the assessment tool will be used (i.e., identifying treatment targets) and the relevance of the instrument to the objectives of the JDTC. Finally, it is critical that the selected assessment tool is evidence based.4

Additional Resources

For more information, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 25 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Prendergast, M.L., Pearson, F.S., Podus, D., Hamilton, Z.K., and Greenwell, L. 2013. The Andrews' principles of risk, need, and responsivity as applied in drug abuse treatment programs: Meta-analysis of crime and drug use outcomes. Journal of Experimental Criminology 9(3):275-300.

2Dowden, C., and Andrews, D.A. 1999. What works in young offender treatment: A meta-analysis. Forum on Corrections Research 11:21-24.

3Models for Change. (2011). Can Risk Assessment Improve Juvenile Justice Practices? Knowledge Brief. Available at: http://www.umassmed.edu/uploadedFiles/cmhsr/NYSAP/KnowledgeBrief%20Can%20Risk%20Assessment.pdf (PDF 291.3 KB).

4Vincent, G. M. (2011). Screening and Assessment in Juvenile Justice Systems: Identifying Mental Health Needs and Risk of Reoffending. Washington, DC: Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health.

Guideline
4.1

Needs assessments should include information for each participant on Mental Health Needs.

Overview

There is a high prevalence of co-occurring mental and substance use disorders among youth in JDTC programs.1 Because mental health disorders can impact JDTC treatment outcomes, it is important that JDTCs properly screen and assess youth for such disorders.

Evidence

Research shows that 60 percent to 90 percent of youth who come in contact with the juvenile justice system have at least one diagnosable mental health disorder.2 Research also shows that when co-occurring mental health disorders are not addressed, youth will be less likely to consistently abstain from using alcohol, drugs, and other substances.3

Practice Considerations

According to the 2002 Consensus Conference on Mental Health Assessments in Juvenile Justice Settings, "a comprehensive mental health assessment must be based on careful review of information from multiple sources and must measure a range of mental health concerns." Mental health assessments should include direct observation and interviews with youth, mental status examination, chart reviews, and interviews with parents and other caregivers, along with a family history, when possible.4

Additional Resources

For more information on needs assessment instruments for mental health issues, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 25 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Henggeler, S., McCart, M., Cunningham, P., and Chapman, J. 2012. Enhancing the effectiveness of juvenile drug courts by integrating evidence-based practices. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 80(2):264-275.

2Kinscherff, R. 2012. A Primer for Mental Health Practitioners Working With Youth Involved in the Juvenile Justice System. Washington, DC: Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health.

3Hills, H., Shufelt, J.L., and Cocozza, J.J. 2009. Evidence-Based Practice Recommendations for Juvenile Drug Courts. Delmar, NY: National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice. Available online: http://www.modelsforchange.net/publications/235.

4Wasserman, G.A., Jensen, P.S., Ko, S.J., Cocozza, J., Trupin, E., Angold, A., Cauffman, E., and Grisso, T. 2003. Mental health assessments in juvenile justice: Report on the consensus conference. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 42(7):751-761. Available online: http://devepi.duhs.duke.edu/library/pdf/16927.pdf (PDF 413.6 KB).

Guideline
4.1

Needs assessments should include information for each participant on History of Abuse or Other Traumatic Experiences.

Overview

In addition to the prevalence of mental health disorders among youth in JDTC programs, the presence of significant symptoms of PTSD and other trauma-related conditions strongly suggests that JDTCs need to screen for and assess the contributions of traumatic childhood and current experiences on the mental health and substance use of each youth.1

Evidence

Clinicians working with youth in the juvenile justice system, including JDTCs, should "carefully consider trauma in developmental formulation, differential diagnosis, and functional assessment." Failure to do so may lead to errors in identifying mental health needs as they relate to trauma exposure and thus jeopardize the proper alignment of treatment with need.2

Practice Considerations

To conduct screening for psychological trauma, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network recommends inquiring about a youth's history of exposure to traumatizing events through a range of tools that vary widely in length and comprehensiveness.

Additional Resources

For more information on assessment tools for trauma, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 25 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Hills, H., Shufelt, J.L., and Cocozza, J.J. 2009. Evidence-Based Practice Recommendations for Juvenile Drug Courts. Delmar, NY: National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice. Available online: www.modelsforchange.net/publications/235; Kinscherff, R. 2012. A Primer for Mental Health Practitioners Working With Youth Involved in the Juvenile Justice System. Washington, DC: Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health.

2Kinscherff, R. 2012. A Primer for Mental Health Practitioners Working With Youth Involved in the Juvenile Justice System. Washington, DC: Technical Assistance Partnership for Child and Family Mental Health.

Guideline
4.1

Needs assessments should include information for each participant on Well-Being Needs and Strengths.

Overview

Practitioners, policymakers, and researchers focused on youth development and prevention all agree that a successful transition from childhood to adulthood requires more than preventing negative behaviors, but must focus on promoting positive youth development through assessing a range of positive and problem behaviors.1

Evidence

The Center for the Study of Social Policy defines well-being as "the healthy functioning of children and youth that allows them to be successful throughout childhood and into adulthood." Four domains of child well-being have been identified, including cognitive functioning, physical health and development, emotional/behavioral functioning, and social functioning.2 Programs focusing on positive youth development produced evidence of significant changes in youth's personal health management, assertiveness, sociability, problem-solving, interpersonal skills, and regulation of emotions.3

Practice Considerations

The assessment of well-being needs and strengths is a focus on the positive and often encompasses the evaluation of strengths of the family as well as the youth. In practice, conducting these assessments is a strategy for engaging with the family. A strengths-based focus on positive youth development is based on what is known from research on adolescent development but is still a cultural shift when adopted in juvenile justice agencies.4

Additional Resources

For more information on the assessment of well-being and strengths, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 25 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Catalano, R. F., Berglund, M. L., Ryan, J. A., Lonczak, H. S., & Hawkins, J. D. (2004). Positive youth development in the United States: Research findings on evaluations of positive youth development programs. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 591(1), 98-124.

22 Center for the Study of Social Policy. (2013). Raising the bar: Child welfare's shift toward well-being. Available online at: https://childwelfaresparc.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/raising-the-bar-child-welfares-shift-toward-well-being-7-22.pdf (PDF 273.59 KB).

3Catalano, R. F., Berglund, M. L., Ryan, J. A., Lonczak, H. S., & Hawkins, J. D. (2004). Positive youth development in the United States: Research findings on evaluations of positive youth development programs. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 591(1), 98-124.

4Barton, W. H., & Butts, J. A. (2008). Building on strength: Positive youth development in juvenile justice programs. Chicago, IL: Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago.

Guideline
4.1

Needs assessments should include information for each participant on Parental Drug Use, Mental Health Needs, and Parenting Skills.

Overview

It is important to conduct needs assessments of parents and family members of youth in JDTC programs because they are often facing their own stresses, trauma, and mental and behavioral health issues, including substance use disorders, which can be a risk factor for these youth.1

Evidence

For JDTC programs to succeed, they must screen for and address family needs. For example, screening and assessment should examine how parental substance use affects bonds with children and how parental role modeling influences youth behavior. Needs assessments should also seek to identify more positive coping skills for both youth and parents.2 This information will further inform a comprehensive treatment program within JDTCs.

Practice Considerations

Active participation on the part of parents, family members, and other caregivers in the JDTC process is critical for youth to successfully complete a JDTC program. Active family involvement helps support the youth's treatment; it may also strengthen the family and enhance the ability of parents, family members, and caregivers to provide the support, structure, and guidance a youth needs after he or she completes the program.3

Additional Resources

For more information on parent and family needs assessments and instruments, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 25 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Mericle, A.A., Belenko, S., Festinger, D., Fairfax-Columbo, J., and McCart, M.R. 2014. Staff perspectives on juvenile drug court operations: A multi-site qualitative study. Criminal Justice Policy Review 25(5):614-636; Thompson, K.M. 2000. A Process Evaluation of North Dakota's Juvenile Drug Court. Fargo, ND: North Dakota State University. Available online: http://aupa.wrlc.org/handle/11204/52.

2Hills, H., Shufelt, J.L., and Cocozza, J.J. 2009. Evidence-Based Practice Recommendations for Juvenile Drug Courts. Delmar, NY: National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice. Available online: http://www.modelsforchange.net/publications/235.

3Hills, H., Shufelt, J.L., and Cocozza, J.J. 2009. Evidence-Based Practice Recommendations for Juvenile Drug Courts. Delmar, NY: National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice. Available online: http://www.modelsforchange.net/publications/235.

Guideline
4.2

Case management and treatment plans should be individualized and culturally appropriate, based on an assessment of the youth's and family's needs.

Overview

For JDTCs, the information gained from a comprehensive assessment can be used to (1) initiate a plan for specific treatment, (2) identify other psychosocial needs, (3) describe the individual's specific strengths, or (4) evaluate the individual's motivation for treatment.1 It is common practice for JDTCs to consist of multiple treatment components in which the youth's developmental needs determine the components in which each youth would participate.2 Treatment plans spell out the intensity of services for each youth.

Evidence

Programs that use a more flexible fidelity framework focused on the delivery of specific treatment elements shown to be effective, rather than a prescriptive sequencing of every program element, may be more effective when trying to engage and retain clients whose circumstances make it difficult to follow a regimented program schedule.3 Results improved when programs balanced the need for fidelity with the need for flexibility.4 Strict adherence to fidelity reduced parent engagement but increased youth's satisfaction with the program. Parents and guardians stated that they expected service providers to treat them more as peers and to accommodate requests for changes because of family needs.5 Lack of flexibility when implementing interventions may also reduce practitioner confidence and commitment for delivering the program as intended.6

Practice Considerations

JDTCs should adopt evidence-based case management that takes into account participants' special needs and allows some flexibility in the application of case management practices. Evidence-based case management involves:
  • providing "a single point of contact for multiple health and social service systems";
  • advocating for the participant and his or her family;
  • being "flexible, community-based, and client-oriented"; and
  • helping the participant and family manage other related needs.7
JDTC professionals should understand:
  • the different types and causes of addiction and the various problems associated with substance use disorders;
  • the state of the art of evidence-based "treatment, recovery, relapse prevention, and continuing care" to address substance use disorders and any associated problems;
  • the important role that family, community, and support systems play in treatment and recovery;
  • the different options for engaging insurance and health maintenance providers to cover the cost of treatment and recovery services; and
  • how to integrate individual needs, including culturally relevant needs and those specific to youth with special needs, into treatment and other critical services will provide the best case management.8

Additional Resources

For more information on case management designed for youth with substance use disorders, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 27 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Hills, H., Shufelt, J.L., and Cocozza, J.J. 2009. Evidence-Based Practice Recommendations for Juvenile Drug Courts. Delmar, NY: National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice. Available online: http://www.modelsforchange.net/publications/235.

2Choo, K., Petrosino, A., Persson, H., Fronius, T., Guckenburg, S., and Earl, K. 2016. Juvenile Drug Courts: Policy and Practice Scan. San Francisco, CA: WestEd Justice and Prevention Research Center.

3Campie, P.E., and Sokolsky, J. 2016. Systematic Review of Factors That Impact Implementation Quality of Child Welfare, Public Health, and Education Programs for Adolescents: Implications for Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts. Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research.

4Dusenbury, L., Brannigan, R., Falco, M., and Lake, A. 2004. An exploration of fidelity of implementation in drug abuse prevention among five professional groups. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education 47(3):4-19.

5Byrnes, H.F., Miller, B.A., Aalborg, A.E., Plasencia, A.V., and Keagy, C.D. 2010. Implementation fidelity in adolescent family-based prevention programs: Relationship to family engagement. Health Education Research 25(4):531-541. Available online: http://doi.org/10.1093/her/cyq006

6Goldman, G. 2009. Initial validation of a brief individual readiness for change scale (BIRCS) for use with addiction program staff practitioners. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions 9(2):184-203.

7Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2015). Comprehensive case management for substance abuse treatment (Treatment Improvement Protocol Series, No. 27). Rockville, MD: Author. Available online: http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content//SMA15-4215/SMA15-4215.pdf (PDF 1.76 MB).

8Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2015). Comprehensive case management for substance abuse treatment (Treatment Improvement Protocol Series, No. 27). Rockville, MD: Author. Available online: http://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content//SMA15-4215/SMA15-4215.pdf (PDF 1.76 MB).

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Guideline 5.1 Guideline 5.2 Guideline 5.3 Guideline 5.4 Guideline 5.5 Guideline 5.6
Guideline
5.1

For each participant, the application of incentives should equal or exceed the sanctions that the JDTC applies. Incentives should be favored over sanctions.

Overview

JDTCs use incentives and sanctions to encourage their clients to comply with program requirements. Incentives are typically applied if clients progress through the program and if their families cooperate with the various program phases. Sanctions are generally administered if a juvenile does not comply with the program (for example, missing scheduled events or therapy), tests positive on a drug test or misses a drug screen, does not attend a court hearing, commits a crime, or fails to follow the provisions of his or her probation or treatment.1

Evidence

Training staff on the principles of contingency management and using sanctions and incentives can enhance the program's capacity.2 An effective system of incentives and sanctions promotes each youth's ability to take responsibility and be accountable for his or her actions while allowing him or her to complete the program. Based on key ideas drawn from behavioral research and juvenile drug court practice, JDTCs should implement a system of incentives and sanctions that are immediate, certain, consistent, fair, of appropriate intensity, goal oriented, graduated, individualized, and therapeutically sound.3 Research shows that there should be four incentives for every sanction.4

Practice Considerations

Contingency management strategies are often implemented in less than optimal ways because of challenges in training staff to understand and use these principles. JDTCs should use data to monitor the implementation of incentives and sanctions on an ongoing basis, reviewing their effectiveness and ensuring that they maintain an appropriate incentives-to-sanctions ratio. JDTCs would like to expand the number and variety of incentives.5 This is likely to involve dedicated staff who can work to secure incentives that are not currently available, such as passes for movies or bowling.6 Verbal praise can also be used to augment behavioral management strategies when resources for incentives are constrained. Praise can be a powerful behavioral motivator when applied under the proper conditions.7

Additional Resources

For more information on planning for and applying incentives and sanctions, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 28 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Choo, K., Petrosino, A., Persson, H., Fronius, T., Guckenburg, S., and Earl, K. 2016. Juvenile Drug Courts: Policy and Practice Scan. San Francisco, CA: WestEd Justice and Prevention Research Center.

2Heck, C. 2007. Big Horn County Juvenile and Family Drug Court: Process Evaluation. Laramie, WY: Snowy Range Research and Evaluation.

3Gurnell, B., Holmberg, M., and Yeres, S. 2014. Starting a Juvenile Drug Court: A Planning Guide. Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Available online: http://www.ncjfcj.org/sites/default/files/NCJFCJ_JDC_PlanningGuide_Final.pdf (PDF 4.8 MB).

4Gendreau, P., Cullen, F.T., and Bonta, J. 1994. Intensive rehabilitation supervision: The next generation in community corrections? Federal Probation 58:173-184.

5Hiller, M.L., Malluche, D., Bryan, V., DuPont, M.L., Martin, B., Abensur, R., and Payne, C. 2010. A multisite description of juvenile drug courts: Program models and during-program outcomes. International Journal Offender Therapy & Comparative Criminology 54(2):213-235.

6Thompson, K.M. 2000. A Process Evaluation of North Dakota's Juvenile Drug Court. Fargo, ND: North Dakota State University. Available online: http://aupa.wrlc.org/handle/11204/52.

7Henderlong, J., and Lepper, M.R. 2002. The effects of praise on children's intrinsic motivation: A review and synthesis. Psychological Bulletin 128(5):774-795.

Guideline
5.2

Participants should feel that the assignment of incentives and sanctions is fair:

  • Application should be consistent; i.e., participants receive similar incentives and sanctions as others who are in the court for the same reasons.
  • Without violating the principle of consistency described above, it is also valuable to individualize incentives and sanctions.

Overview

To reconcile the two facets of incentives and sanctions described in this guideline statement, the objective is to base them on the participant's competency and individualized treatment protocol. Behavioral contracts allow JDTCs to remain both consistent and individualized because if a youth breaks the contract, he or she cannot say that the response is unfair. When a youth does say that the situation is unfair, he or she often wants to be taken seriously.

Evidence

Youth generally perceive that counselors and JDTC staff treat them fairly.1 They also report feeling that judges treat them fairly, even when applying sanctions.2 Incentives are important to the success of JDTCs, and youth indicate that they appreciate the rewards. Increasing incentives can improve graduation rates.3 In one study, the youth noted that earning rewards was a highlight of the JDTC hearings.4 In another study, the proportion of incentives (relative to sanctions) was a significant predictor of graduation.5 When incentives and sanctions are individualized, they can facilitate the kind of "reflected appraisals" that contribute to a true change in identity for the participants.6

Practice Considerations

JDTCs should meet with the youth to create a list of incentives and sanctions and update them every 60 to 90 days.7 Also, the way in which JDTCs communicate with youth about a particular sanction (e.g., confrontational or supportive) determines how it is received.8 Individualization of incentives and sanctions should be aligned with the youth's proximal (short term, such as not using drugs this week) and distal (long term, such as obtaining a GED) goals.9

Additional Resources

For more information on designing incentives and sanctions, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 29 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Wilson, D., Olaghere, A., and Kimbrell, C.S. 2016. Developing Juvenile Court Practices on Process Standards: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

2Salvatore, C., Hiller, M.L., Samuelson, B., Henderson, J.S., and White, E. 2011. A systematic observational study of a juvenile drug court judge. Juvenile and Family Court Journal 62(4):19-36.

3Wilson, D., Olaghere, A., and Kimbrell, C.S. 2016. Developing Juvenile Court Practices on Process Standards: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

4Whiteacre, K.W. 2007. Strange bedfellows: The tensions of coerced treatment. Criminal Justice Policy Review 18(3):260-273.

5Konecky, B. 2010. Juvenile drug court program evaluation. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Pocatello, ID: Idaho State University.

6Linden, P.L. 2008. The youth perspective of juvenile treatment courts. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Stony Brook, NY: State University of New York at Stony Brook.

7Borg, M.L., Foster, S., James-Andrews, S., Pearce, J.M., Schiller, W.L., Thomas III, J., Turpin, D., and van Wormer, J. 2014. Practical Tips to Help Juvenile Drug Court Teams Implement the 16 Strategies in Practice. Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Available online: http://www.ncjfcj.org/sites/default/files/NCJFCJ_JDC_TipSheets_Final.pdf?_sm_au_=iVVZ7t5tVvQWWQZP (PDF 6.95 MB).

8Yeres, S.A., and Gurnell, F.C. 2012. Making sense of incentives and sanctions in working with the substance-abusing youth: Answers to frequently asked questions. Juvenile and Family Justice Today. Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

9Borg, M.L., Foster, S., James-Andrews, S., Pearce, J.M., Schiller, W.L., Thomas III, J., Turpin, D., and van Wormer, J. 2014. Practical Tips to Help Juvenile Drug Court Teams Implement the 16 Strategies in Practice. Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Available online: http://www.ncjfcj.org/sites/default/files/NCJFCJ_JDC_TipSheets_Final.pdf?_sm_au_=iVVZ7t5tVvQWWQZP (PDF 6.95 MB).

Guideline
5.3

Financial fees and detention should be considered only after other graduated sanctions have been attempted. Detention should be used as a sanction infrequently and only for short periods of time when the youth is a danger to himself/herself or the community, or may abscond.

Overview

Normal adolescent behaviors can often include risk taking, impulsiveness, moodiness, forgetfulness, aggression, and experimentation. Unfortunately, many of these behaviors are punished in the JDTC model (they are considered violations of court order and JDTC program guidelines) and result in eventual stays in detention or in the assignment of fees. Detention should be used sparingly and only as a last resort.

Evidence

Research shows that detention is the most commonly used sanction in some JDTCs.1 JDTCs often report using detention for weekend-only stays as sanctions.2 The research on how detention impacts adolescent development and mental health is quite clear. The use of detention actually increases the likelihood of recidivism and negatively impacts future employment and educational opportunities. Detention and length of detention are also related to JDTC failure.3 The amount of time spent in detention is significantly related to JDTC program graduation rates, program failure, and new delinquency charges.4 In one study, results indicated that a youth placed in detention is almost eight times more likely to fail to graduate from a JDTC program than is a youth who was never in detention.5

Practice Considerations

Detention is the least effective and most expensive way to affect changes in behavior.6 Courts should assess the use of detention and consider replacing it as much as possible with effective, lower cost sanctions. JDTCs should also consider whether the assignment of fees is a valuable strategy. Most commonly, fees are assigned based on the youth's behavior, but the parents pay.7 Some parents and guardians feel it is not fair to pay fees when youth are noncompliant.8 Perhaps even more of a concern for JDTCs is the finding that if parents or guardians believe they may be assessed fees, some of them will hide noncompliant youth behaviors to avoid payment.9

Additional Resources

Resources on graduated sanctions and alternatives to detention include:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 30 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Jackson, E., and Kupersmidt, J. 2005. Youth Treatment Court Outcome Evaluation: MIS Archival Analysis Results. Durham, NC: Innovation Research & Training, Inc. Available online: http://www.nccourts.org/Citizens/CPrograms/DTC/documents/YTCReport1_0409.pdf (PDF 605.12 KB).

2Choo, K., Petrosino, A., Persson, H., Fronius, T., Guckenburg, S., and Earl, K. 2016. Juvenile Drug Courts: Policy and Practice Scan. San Francisco, CA: WestEd Justice and Prevention Research Center.

3Wilson, D., Olaghere, A., and Kimbrell, C.S. 2016. Developing Juvenile Court Practices on Process Standards: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

4Konecky, B. 2010. Juvenile drug court program evaluation. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Pocatello, ID: Idaho State University.

5Tranchita, A.P. 2004. Predictors of graduation and rearrest in a contemporary juvenile drug court program. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Logan, UT: Utah State University.

6Borg, M.L., Foster, S., James-Andrews, S., Pearce, J.M., Schiller, W.L., Thomas III, J., Turpin, D., and van Wormer, J. 2014. Practical Tips to Help Juvenile Drug Court Teams Implement the 16 Strategies in Practice. Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Available online: http://www.ncjfcj.org/sites/default/files/FINAL_NCJFCJ_JDC_TipSheets_9.pdf (PDF 7.01 MB).

7Mackin, J.R., Lucas, L.M., Lambarth, C.H., Waller, M.S., Allen, T.H., Carey, S.M., and Finigan, M.W. 2010a. Anne Arundel County Juvenile Treatment Court Outcome and Cost Evaluation. Portland, OR: NPC Research. Available online: http://www.courts.state.md.us/opsc/dtc/pdfs/evaluationsreports/annearundelcountyjuveniledcoutcome-costreport.pdf (PDF 687.81 KB).

8Wilson, D., Olaghere, A., and Kimbrell, C.S. 2016. Developing Juvenile Court Practices on Process Standards: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

9Paik, L. 2011. Discretionary Justice: Looking Inside a Juvenile Drug Court. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Guideline
5.4

Ongoing monitoring and case management of youth participants should focus less on the detection of violations of program requirements than on addressing their needs in a holistic manner, including a strong focus on behavioral health treatment and family intervention.

Overview

Case management both facilitates a youth's participation in and, ideally, successful completion of a JDTC program, ensuring that the youth and family are connected to and can access needed supports and services. It also maintains public safety by monitoring each youth's compliance with the requirements and sanctions that the court or probation impose. Maintaining a balance between these responsibilities is important for a JDTC program to be effective.

Evidence

Case management ensures that the JDTC actually works, both for the youth served and for his or her community.1 The benefits of intensive monitoring, however, are mixed. Although it can create opportunities to better address youth's needs, intensive monitoring can also lead to the detection of more violations of program requirements and the administration of ad hoc sanctions, resulting in a negative view of youth and lower graduation rates.2 When the court focuses heavily on violations and noncompliance, it develops perceptions about how it will or will not be able to work with each youth, which may serve to limit the use of contingency management that could change behavior and shape the youth's identity.3

Practice Considerations

The balance of case management and supervision, along with monitoring, should be achieved in the context of addressing the youth's needs holistically. This requires individualizing case management and supervision plans. It also will demand effective engagement of the parents or guardians. This balance will also provide the context in which decisions are made about the length of court supervision, the treatment programs to which participants are referred, the frequency of drug tests, and other services to which the youth are referred.

Additional Resources

For more information on the decisions and considerations that must be explored, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 31 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Gurnell, B., Holmberg, M., and Yeres, S. 2014. Starting a Juvenile Drug Court: A Planning Guide. Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Available online: http://www.ncjfcj.org/sites/default/files/NCJFCJ_JDC_PlanningGuide_Final.pdf (PDF 4.8 MB).

2Wilson, D., Olaghere, A., and Kimbrell, C.S. 2016. Developing Juvenile Court Practices on Process Standards: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

3Paik, L. 2011. Discretionary Justice: Looking Inside a Juvenile Drug Court. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Guideline
5.5

A participant's failure to appear for a drug test and otherwise tampering with drug test results should be addressed with immediate, graduated sanctions.

Overview

Every drug court uses urinalysis for drug testing, and some also conduct oral fluid analysis and use breathalyzers to detect alcohol.1 Immediate, graduated sanctions are called for in the event a youth fails to appear or tampers with drug tests, especially through substitution and adulteration.

Evidence

The percentage of youth who failed to appear for drug testing in one study was significantly and positively associated with an increased likelihood for program failure. Further, youth with higher percentages of missed (and positive) drug tests were more likely to fail to complete the program. Thus, youth's failure to appear for drug testing during the initial phase is a warning sign for youth at high risk of program failure.2

Practice Considerations

Drug testing should be random, observed, frequent, and sensitive to any potential trauma the youth has experienced.3 JDTCs should develop a standard for testing but increase the frequency as needed for individual youth.4 Research has pointed to a consensus that testing should occur twice a week initially and then weekly during the JDTC's latter stages.5 The court should also use spot testing when staff suspect that the youth might be under the influence of a substance. If JDTCs cannot afford frequent testing, they can use a random testing schedule in which the youth calls in daily to check if he or she has been selected for testing.6 The frequency of testing should be the last supervision level lifted.7 Tampering should be seen as a deliberate act of noncompliance, yet most tampering can be eliminated by employing direct observation for urine and other related collections.8

Additional Resources

For more information on developing a drug testing protocol, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 32 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Choo, K., Petrosino, A., Persson, H., Fronius, T., Guckenburg, S., and Earl, K. 2016. Juvenile Drug Courts: Policy and Practice Scan. San Francisco, CA: WestEd Justice and Prevention Research Center.

2Konecky, B. 2010. Juvenile drug court program evaluation. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Pocatello, ID: Idaho State University; Wilson, D., Olaghere, A., and Kimbrell, C.S. 2016. Developing Juvenile Court Practices on Process Standards: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

3Gatowski, S., Barnes, E.W., Miller, N., and Ruben, S. 2016. Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines: Draft Guidelines Feedback Report. Reno, NV: Court Centered Change Consultants.

4Robinson, J.J., and Jones, J.W. 2000. Drug Testing in a Drug Court Environment: Common Issues to Address (Drug Courts Resource Series). Prepared by the Drug Court Clearinghouse and Technical Assistance Project at American University. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Drug Courts Program Office. Available online: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojp/181103.pdf (PDF 156.2 KB).

5National Association of Drug Court Professionals. 2015. Adult Drug Court Best Practice Standards Volume II. Alexandria, VA: National Association of Drug Court Professionals. Available online: http://www.ndcrc.org/sites/default/files/adult_drug_court_best_practice_standards_volume_ii_0.pdf (PDF 582.6 KB); Robinson, J.J., and Jones, J.W. 2000. Drug Testing in a Drug Court Environment: Common Issues to Address (Drug Courts Resource Series). Prepared by the Drug Court Clearinghouse and Technical Assistance Project at American University. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Drug Courts Program Office. Available online: www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojp/181103.pdf (PDF 156.28 KB).

6Robinson, J.J., and Jones, J.W. 2000. Drug Testing in a Drug Court Environment: Common Issues to Address (Drug Courts Resource Series). Prepared by the Drug Court Clearinghouse and Technical Assistance Project at American University. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Drug Courts Program Office. Available online: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojp/181103.pdf (PDF 156.2 KB).

7Marlowe, D.B. 2008. Application of sanctions. In Quality Improvement for Drug Courts: Evidence-Based Practices, edited by C. Hardin and J.N. Kushner. Alexandria, VA: National Drug Court Institute. Available online: http://www.ndci.org/sites/default/files/ndci/Mono9.QualityImprovement.pdf (PDF 644.1 KB).

8Gurnell, B., Holmberg, M., and Yeres, S. 2014. Starting a Juvenile Drug Court: A Planning Guide. Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Available online: http://www.ncjfcj.org/sites/default/files/NCJFCJ_JDC_PlanningGuide_Final.pdf (PDF 4.8 MB).

Guideline
5.6

The JDTC team should be prepared to respond to any return to substance use in ways that consider the youth's risk, needs, and responsivity.

Overview

Many JDTCs employ sanctioning models with a reasonable tolerance for return to use, consistent with what is known about successful recovery. Tolerance for return to use should be determined on an individual basis.1 Reactions to return to use should be based on what is known about each youth's goals and progress.2

Evidence

Research shows that return to use is an expected aspect of recovery for many youth. Treatment and sanctions are often confused with one another, however, and more restrictive forms of treatment may be assigned in response to violations, rather than being based on an assessment of the youth's treatment needs.3 There are two broad categories of recovery programs—formal aftercare services and recovery communities.4 Formal aftercare services such as assertive continuing care5 and active aftercare6 have both been associated with a lower likelihood of return to use. Community-based self-help groups, such as adolescent-specific 12-step programs, have shown promise for positive effects.7

Practice Considerations

A positive drug screen may result in a minor sanction within the first 30 days of a participant's enrollment in the JDTC, but a similar occurrence in the final phase of the JDTC process would be met with a more serious sanction. Recovery high schools provide safe learning environments within larger schools to provide peer support in small groups. These programs support recovery and enhance academic performance.8

Additional Resources

For more information on recovery and responses to return to use, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 32 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Rubin, S., Thorne, W., Gatowski, S., Miller, N.B., and Barnes, E.W. 2016. OJJDP Juvenile Drug Court Guidelines Project: Juvenile Drug Court Listening Sessions. Reno, NV: Court Centered Change Consultants.

2Gurnell, B., Holmberg, M., and Yeres, S. 2014. Starting a Juvenile Drug Court: A Planning Guide. Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Available online: http://www.ncjfcj.org/sites/default/files/NCJFCJ_JDC_PlanningGuide_Final.pdf (PDF 4.8 MB).

3Polakowski, M., Hartley, R.E., and Bates, L. 2008. Treating the tough cases in juvenile drug court: Individual and organizational practices leading to success or failure. Criminal Justice Review 33(3):379-404.

4Fisher, E.A. 2014. Recovery supports for young people: What do existing supports reveal about the recovery environment? Peabody Journal of Education 89(2):258-270. Available online: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4078875/.

5Garner B.R., Godley M.D., Funk R.R., Dennis M.L., and Godley S.H. 2007. The impact of continuing care adherence on environmental risks, substance use, and substance-related problems following adolescent residential treatment. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors 21(4):488-497.

6Burleson, J.A., Kaminer, Y., and Burke, R.H. 2012. Twelve-month follow-up of aftercare for adolescents with alcohol use disorders. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment 42(1):78-86.

7Fisher, E.A. 2014. Recovery supports for young people: What do existing supports reveal about the recovery environment? Peabody Journal of Education 89(2):258-270. Available online: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4078875/.

8Moberg D.P., and Finch A.J. 2007. Recovery high schools: A descriptive study of school programs and students. Journal of Groups in Addiction & Recovery 2:128-161.

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Guideline 6.1 Guideline 6.2 Guideline 6.3 Guideline 6.4 Guideline 6.5
Guideline
6.1

The JDTC should have access to and use a continuum of evidence-based substance use treatment resources-from in-patient residential treatment to outpatient services.

Overview

A full continuum of treatment should include home-based outpatient and intensive outpatient treatment; day treatment; individual, group, and family treatment; inpatient treatment; and residential treatment. The continuum should also include prevention of return to use and other ongoing care. Although the focus is on treating substance use and related behaviors, JDTCs must be aware that youth and families will have other needs that often contribute to and are the result of their substance use. Therefore, youth and families should have access to other service providers who can help meet those needs.1

Evidence

In addition to comprehensive treatment and other options, JDTCs should arrange for adolescent-specific (and family-specific, as applicable) care as part of their continuum. Research shows that using adolescent-specific treatment approaches in particular is directly related to retention and treatment success.2 A clearly identified referral process should be in place to provide effective coordination for families from court to community. Because families and youth often find it difficult to access and attend treatment services, they should have the opportunity to participate in discussions about where these services are located in the community.

Practice Considerations

For a JDTC to be able to refer youth and families to a broad continuum of treatment and related options for services, the court must identify all organizations and agencies it will depend on for such services and involve them in the planning process.3 Without this involvement, the court may be limited in its knowledge of and ability to refer youth and families to a range of providers. The availability of high-quality treatment resources that span the full continuum will vary in each jurisdiction. It is important to sustain available treatment resources and find ways to develop viable alternatives where gaps exist.4 For example, JDTCs are encouraged to look for ways to align the needs of local providers with available state funding.

Additional Resources

For more information on establishing and maintaining a continuum of treatment, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 33 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Gurnell, B., Holmberg, M., and Yeres, S. 2014. Starting a Juvenile Drug Court: A Planning Guide. Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Available online: http://www.ncjfcj.org/sites/default/files/NCJFCJ_JDC_PlanningGuide_Final.pdf (PDF 4.8 MB).

2Gurnell, B., Holmberg, M., and Yeres, S. 2014. Starting a Juvenile Drug Court: A Planning Guide. Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Available online: http://www.ncjfcj.org/sites/default/files/NCJFCJ_JDC_PlanningGuide_Final.pdf (PDF 4.8 MB).

3Gurnell, B., Holmberg, M., and Yeres, S. 2014. Starting a Juvenile Drug Court: A Planning Guide. Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Available online: http://www.ncjfcj.org/sites/default/files/NCJFCJ_JDC_PlanningGuide_Final.pdf (PDF 4.8 MB).

4Campie, P.E., and Sokolsky, J. 2016. Systematic Review of Factors That Impact Implementation Quality of Child Welfare, Public Health, and Education Programs for Adolescents: Implications for Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts. Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research; Rhoades, B.L., Bumbarger, B.K., and Moore, J.E. 2012. The role of a state-level prevention support system in promoting high-quality implementation and sustainability of evidence-based programs. American Journal of Community Psychology 50(3-4):386-401.

Guideline
6.2

Providers should administer treatment modalities that have been shown to improve outcomes for youth with substance use issues.

Overview

It is critical for JDTCs to identify providers that use evidence-based treatment approaches and models. JDTCs are advised to refer participants to substance treatment programs that feature family therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, or cognitive behavioral therapy. JDTCs should not refer participants to standard community services, stand-alone self-help treatment, or generic counseling programs that do not incorporate family therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, and/or cognitive behavioral therapy components.

Evidence

The treatment modalities identified below showed evidence of beneficial effects (relative to practice as usual or no treatment) in at least two independent study samples after adjusting for methodological differences between studies. These types of treatment modalities were associated with significant reductions in substance use among youth and were consistently more effective than more generic types of "practice as usual" or "mixed counseling" programs that do not follow a unified approach or model for providing treatment.1 These findings have implications for the treatment providers that collaborate with JDTCs to provide substance use treatment services for youth involved in the court.

Practice Considerations

Evidence-based treatment modalities include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Assertive continuing care. Programs that provide integrated and coordinated case management services for youth after they are discharged from outpatient or inpatient treatment, including home visits, client advocacy for support services, and integrated social support services.
  • Behavioral therapy. Programs based on operant behavioral principles that use incentives (e.g., gift certificates) to reward abstinence and/or compliance with treatment.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy. Programs based on theories of classical conditioning that focus on teaching adolescents coping skills, problem-solving skills, and cognitive restructuring techniques for dealing with stimuli that trigger substance use or cravings.
  • Family therapy. Programs based on ecological approaches that actively involve family members in treatment and address issues of family functioning, parenting skills, and family communication skills.
  • Motivational enhancement therapy. Programs that use supportive and nonconfrontational therapeutic techniques to encourage motivation to change based on clients' readiness to change and self-efficacy for behavior change.
  • Motivational enhancement therapy/cognitive behavioral therapy. Programs that use a combination of motivational enhancement and cognitive behavioral therapy techniques.
  • Multiservice packages. Programs that combine two or more of these approaches. These programs use a combination of behavioral, cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, motivational enhancement therapy, pharmacotherapies, and/or group and mixed counseling in a comprehensive package.

Additional Resources

For more information on these treatment modalities, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 34 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Tanner-Smith, E.E., Steinka-Fry, K.T., Kettrey, H.H., and Lipsey, M.W. 2015. Adolescent Substance Use Treatment Effectiveness: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University, Peabody Research Institute.

Guideline
6.3

Service providers should deliver intervention programs with fidelity to the programmatic models.

Overview

Once a JDTC identifies the treatment and other service needs of youth and their families and identifies providers using evidence-based treatment and service models, programs must ensure that providers implement those practices with fidelity to the model.

Evidence

While the desire for effective interventions has grown, the means to implement them effectively have not kept pace, often resulting in failed replications and adaptations when taking a single-site program to scale.1 Some of these difficulties stem from the policy objective of quickly disseminating evidence-based programs and practices to encourage their adoption without first ensuring these interventions have adequate supports to be implemented with quality.2 Poorly implemented evidence-based practices can produce no better outcomes than locally developed programs that do not have an established evidence base.3 Programs with higher levels of implementation quality are associated with better outcomes for the youth served.4

Practice Considerations

Organizations must be ready to implement interventions; key aspects of readiness include a combination of factors inside the organization and within the context in which it operates.5 Organizations that are not ready to take on an evidence-based practice typically produce poor results; eventually the intervention is de-adopted and replaced.6 It is important to consider complexities to implementation. To implement evidence-based treatments, agencies and clinicians must be trained in how to administer the intervention and adhere to the treatment manual and must be open to adjustments to practice to maintain fidelity.7 Courts and providers should discuss and agree on these expectations to promote successful implementation.

Additional Resources

For more information on implementing programs with fidelity, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 35 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Drake, E.K., Aos, S., and Miller, M.G. 2009. Evidence-based public policy options to reduce crime and criminal justice costs: Implications in Washington State. Victims and Offenders 4(2):170-196.

2Campie, P.E., and Sokolsky, J. 2016. Systematic Review of Factors That Impact Implementation Quality of Child Welfare, Public Health, and Education Programs for Adolescents: Implications for Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts. Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research.

3Lipsey, M.W. 1992. The effect of treatment on juvenile delinquents: Results from meta-analysis. In Psychology and Law: International Perspectives, edited by F. Loesel and D. Bender. Oxford, England: Walter De Gruyter, pp. 131-143.

4Steinka-Fry, K.T., Wilson, S.J., and Tanner-Smith, E.E. 2013. Effects of school dropout prevention programs for pregnant and parenting adolescents: A meta-analytic review. Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research 4(4):373-389.

5Scaccia, J.P., Cook, B.S., Lamont, A., Wandersman, A., Castellow, J., Katz, J., and Beidas, R.S. 2015. A practical implementation science heuristic for organizational readiness: R= MC2. Journal of Community Psychology 43(4):484-501.

6Fixsen, D.L., Naoom, S.F., Blase, K.A., and Friedman, R.M. 2005. Implementation Research: A Synthesis of the Literature. Tampa, FL: National Implementation Research Network.

7Kerig, P.K. 2013. Trauma-Informed Assessment and Intervention. Los Angeles, CA, and Durham, NC: National Center for Child Traumatic Stress. Available online: http://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/assets/pdfs/jj_trauma_brief_assessment_kerig_final.pdf (PDF 111.9 KB).

Guideline
6.4

The JDTC should have access to and make appropriate use of evidence-based treatment services that address the risks and needs identified as priorities in the youth's case plan, including factors such as trauma, mental health, quality of family life, educational challenges, and criminal thinking.

Overview

Effective JDTCs realize that, in addition to varying degrees of substance use problems, the youth they serve also have varying degrees of other risk factors.1 Many youth have experienced trauma in their families and communities, which may contribute to substance use, delinquency, or both. Further, many youth face family dysfunction and many JDTCs view parents and other caregivers as risk factors to youth's substance use.2 Thus, it is clear that a one-size-fits-all approach in JDTC programs will not provide appropriate treatment and support for all youth,3 nor can JDTCs provide all of the services necessary to meet youth's diverse needs.

Evidence

Evidence strongly supports a greater variety and quantity of services in JDTC programs as well as connections with community providers to deliver those services.4 In particular, wide-ranging services and supports are needed to address trauma, mental health, family issues, educational challenges, and criminal thinking.5

Practice Considerations

Relative to evidence-based treatment services—and regardless of the need they seek to address—an important consideration is the definition of evidence-based. Without assurance of the scientific rigor through which this term is claimed for any given treatment or service model, JDTCs should ask providers to clarify exactly what it means. Courts should ask questions to determine the models that are used, evidence showing the models' efficacy (and the populations with which they are effective), and whether the providers are implementing the models with fidelity.6 These considerations are important so JDTCs can ensure their chosen providers are meeting the youth's and families' wide range of needs.

Additional Resources

For more information on evidence-based treatment programs for youth, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 36 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Shaffer, D.K., and Latessa, E.J. 2002. Delaware County juvenile drug court process evaluation. Unpublished report. Cincinnati, OH: University of Cincinnati, Center for Criminal Justice Research. Available online: http://www.uc.edu/content/dam/uc/ccjr/docs/reports/project_reports/Delaware_process_eval.pdf (PDF 78.58 KB).

2Mericle, A.A., Belenko, S., Festinger, D., Fairfax-Columbo, J., and McCart, M.R. 2014. Staff perspectives on juvenile drug court operations: A multi-site qualitative study. Criminal Justice Policy Review 25(5):614-636.

3Hiller, M.L., Malluche, D., Bryan, V., DuPont, M.L., Martin, B., Abensur, R., and Payne, C. 2010. A multisite description of juvenile drug courts: Program models and during-program outcomes. International Journal Offender Therapy & Comparative Criminology 54(2):213-235.

4Hiller et al., 2010; Mericle, A.A., Belenko, S., Festinger, D., Fairfax-Columbo, J., and McCart, M.R. 2014. Staff perspectives on juvenile drug court operations: A multi-site qualitative study. Criminal Justice Policy Review 25(5):614-636.

5Wilson, D., Olaghere, A., and Kimbrell, C.S. 2016. Developing Juvenile Court Practices on Process Standards: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

6Gurnell, B., Holmberg, M., and Yeres, S. 2014. Starting a Juvenile Drug Court: A Planning Guide. Reno, NV: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Available online: http://www.ncjfcj.org/sites/default/files/NCJFCJ_JDC_PlanningGuide_Final.pdf (PDF 4.8 MB).

Guideline
6.5

Participants should be encouraged to practice and should receive help in practicing prosocial skills in domains such as work, education, relationships, community, health, and creative activities.

Overview

An approach that uses the concepts of positive youth development to refocus juvenile justice interventions is known as positive youth justice. This conforms to the ultimate goal for youth in the juvenile justice system to become productive adult citizens.

Evidence

A systematic review of positive youth development programs showed that a vast array of approaches contributed to positive youth behavior outcomes and also reduced or prevented youth's involvement in problem behaviors, including substance use and delinquent activities. Research on JDTCs revealed that participants need more prosocial activities and opportunities and also noted that it is a challenge to understand and impact youth's peer associations. JDTCs' ability to affect youth's peer associations appears mixed across courts.1 Mentoring is suggested as a way for youth to practice their prosocial skills while reaping the benefits of having an adult role model.2

Practice Considerations

The positive youth justice model has 12 key components that arise from the intersection of two essential assets (learning/doing or building competence, and attaching/belonging or positive healthy relationships) with six different life domains (work, education, community, relationships, health, and creativity).3 Effective youth development programs address the following positive youth development outcomes: competence, self-efficacy, prosocial norms, opportunities for prosocial involvement, recognition for positive behavior, bonding with positive adults, positive identity, self-determination, and resiliency. The programs also address the following problem behaviors: school suspension, dropout, use of alcohol and other substances, and delinquency.4

Additional Resources

For more information on developing prosocial skills in JDTCs, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 37 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Wilson, D., Olaghere, A., and Kimbrell, C.S. 2016. Developing Juvenile Court Practices on Process Standards: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

2Gatowski, S., Barnes, E.W., Miller, N., and Ruben, S. 2016. Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines: Draft Guidelines Feedback Report. Reno, NV: Court Centered Change Consultants.

3Butts, J.A., Bazemore, G., and Meroe, A.S. 2010. Positive Youth Justice: Framing Justice Interventions Using the Concepts of Positive Youth Development. Washington, DC: Coalition for Juvenile Justice.

4Catalano, R.F., Berglund, L.M., Ryan, J.A.M., Lonczak, H.S., and Hawkins, J.D. 2004. Positive youth development in the United States: Research findings on evaluations of positive youth development programs. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 591(1):98-124.

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Guideline 7.1 Guideline 7.2 Guideline 7.3
Guideline
7.1

Court and treatment practices should facilitate equivalent outcomes (e.g., retention, duration of involvement, treatment progress, positive court outcomes) for all program participants, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation.

Overview

In practice, JDTCs find it difficult to provide age-appropriate, gender-specific, and culturally and linguistically competent services. In addition, research points to disparities in the outcomes associated with JDTCs.

Evidence

White youth were more likely to complete the program and had lower recidivism rates than minority youth. Girls were more likely to complete the program and had lower recidivism rates than boys. Older youth had better outcomes than those who were younger. When youth have co-occurring disorders and histories of abuse or other traumatic experiences, they are less likely to succeed in a JDTC.1 On the other hand, there is a body of research that indicates that treatments are relatively robust in their effects; that is, they produce similar outcomes for adolescents with different demographic characteristics and histories. These conclusions may suggest that there are other nontreatment aspects of the JDTC experience that contribute to the disparate results with regard to outcomes for participants.

Practice Considerations

It is important to monitor and to work toward equivalent outcomes.

Additional Resources

For more information on facilitating equivalent outcomes for all youth, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 38 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Wilson, D., Olaghere, A., and Kimbrell, C.S. 2016. Developing Juvenile Court Practices on Process Standards: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

Guideline
7.2

A youth should be terminated from the program only after the JDTC team carefully deliberates and only as a last resort after full implementation of the JDTC's protocol on behavioral contingencies.

Overview

Key JDTC stakeholders agree that although termination should be a last resort, it is important to have strict guidelines to determine when to terminate a youth from the program.1 The challenge with such an approach is that typical adolescent behavior often pushes the limits that the court sets, triggering a decision to terminate a participant who may actually benefit from the program.2

Evidence

The strongest predictors for successfully completing or leaving a JDTC have been shown to be factors related to process, such as the use of incentives and sanctions, the consistency of implementing behavioral contingencies with each participant, and youth's retention in community-based substance treatment programs.3 Incentives are important to JDTC success, and youth appreciate them. Increasing the application of incentives can improve rates of successful program completion. Conversely, when sanctions are not applied consistently, the court might view participants more negatively and termination rates might increase as a result.4

Practice Considerations

Because consistent evidence exists that successful program completion depends on the court's structure and participants' commitment to the process, JDTCs are encouraged to work with each participant individually to find a structure that maximizes the use of incentives, uses graduated sanctions appropriately and consistently, and supports family engagement in meaningful and empowering ways. Appropriate responses to violations committed early in the process could have a positive impact on participants' progress in the program. Referring youth to evidence-based treatment programs and supporting continued involvement also increases the likelihood that youth will complete the program successfully.

Additional Resources

For more information, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 38 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Rubin, S., Thorne, W., Gatowski, S., Miller, N.B., and Barnes, E.W. 2016. OJJDP Juvenile Drug Court Guidelines Project: Juvenile Drug Court Listening Sessions. Reno, NV: Court Centered Change Consultants.

2Steinberg, L. 2014. Should the science of adolescent brain development inform public policy? Court Review 50:70-77.

3Polakowski, M., Hartley, R.E., and Bates, L. 2008. Treating the tough cases in juvenile drug court: Individual and organizational practices leading to success or failure. Criminal Justice Review 33(3):379-404.

4Wilson, D., Olaghere, A., and Kimbrell, C.S. 2016. Developing Juvenile Court Practices on Process Standards: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

Guideline
7.3

Each JDTC should routinely collect the following detailed data:

  • Family-related factors, such as family cohesion, home functioning, and communication.
  • General recidivism during the program and after completion, drug use during the program, and use of alcohol or other drugs after the program ends.
  • Program completion and termination, educational enrollment, and sustained employment.
  • Involvement in prosocial activities and youth-peer associations.

Overview

Researchers recommend that juvenile drug courts develop or improve robust management information systems to systematically collect data that provide better evidence of program viability and reliability and help secure future funding.1 It is particularly important to be able to track and monitor outcomes such as reoffending, return to substance use, educational enrollment, employment, and program completion and termination.

Evidence

Systems to capture and manage data should focus on continuous quality improvement and not just serve as efforts to satisfy compliance.2 Several studies found that some practices can negatively affect staff and can affect data quality when leaders require data collection only for compliance and surveillance purposes.3 It is also important to build the capacity to track factors that are shown to be related to JDTC outcomes. For instance, family cohesion is a strong protective factor for substance use and other problem behaviors.4 Evidence supports the idea that JDTCs' relative effectiveness and the evidence-based treatments they provide can at least partially be attributed to the programs' capacity to "alter well-established family (e.g., parent supervision)...risk factors for antisocial behavior in adolescents".5 Similarly, feedback from JDTCs indicates that friendship networks can be risk factors for return to use and/or continued delinquency.6 Further, the effectiveness of JDTCs has been linked to the programs' ability to disrupt youth's associations with deviant peers.7 In light of these findings, researchers recommend that courts focus on participants' peer networks.8

Practice Considerations

Perceptual assessments of drug court staff have found that staffers often view their court's data collection processes as inadequate and are dissatisfied with the process. Further, more detailed information about changes in youth behavior and program processes is needed.9 Local JDTCs have varied capacities to collect data for evaluation and monitoring purposes, however, and many JDTCs lack comprehensive and accessible systems to do so.10

Additional Resources

For more information, visit:

For more information on this guideline, refer to page 39 in Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines.

1Mhlanga, B., and Allen, J.M. 2009. The Effectiveness of a Juvenile Drug Court Program Located in Chicago, Illinois. AABSS Perspectives 12. Available online: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1hwSRKBh6ugR1phc2lvbHJWR2s/view (PDF 212 KB); O'Connell, P., Wright, D., and Clymer, B. 2003. Beckham County Juvenile Drug Court: Phase II Analysis and Evaluation. Oklahoma City, OK: Oklahoma Criminal Justice Resource Center and Oklahoma Statistical Analysis Center.

2Campie, P.E., and Sokolsky, J. 2016. Systematic Review of Factors That Impact Implementation Quality of Child Welfare, Public Health, and Education Programs for Adolescents: Implications for Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts. Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research.

3Henggeler, S.W., Sheidow, A.J., Cunningham, P.B., Donohue, B.C., and Ford, J.D. 2008. Promoting the implementation of an evidence-based intervention for adolescent marijuana abuse in community settings: Testing the use of intensive quality assurance. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology 37(3):682-689; Hoffmann, F., Leckman, E., Russo, N., and Knauf, L. 1999. In it for the long haul: The integration of outcomes assessment, clinical services, and management decision-making. Evaluation and Program Planning 22(2):211-219.

4MacMaster, S.A., Ellis, R.A., and Holmes, T. 2008. Combining drug court with adolescent residential treatment: Lessons from juvenile and adult programs. Residential Treatment for Children & Youth 23(1-2):45-60.

5Schaeffer, C.M., Henggeler, S.W., Chapman, J.E., Halliday-Boykins, C.A., Cunningham, P.B., Randall, J., and Shapiro, S.B. 2010. Mechanisms of effectiveness in juvenile drug court: Altering risk processes associated with delinquency and substance abuse. Drug Court Review 7(1):57-94.

6Linden, P.L. 2008. The youth perspective of juvenile treatment courts. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Stony Brook, NY: State University of New York at Stony Brook.

7Schaeffer, C.M., Henggeler, S.W., Chapman, J.E., Halliday-Boykins, C.A., Cunningham, P.B., Randall, J., and Shapiro, S.B. 2010. Mechanisms of effectiveness in juvenile drug court: Altering risk processes associated with delinquency and substance abuse. Drug Court Review 7(1):57-94.

8Linden, P., Cohen, S., Cohen, R., Bader, A., and Magnani, M. 2010. Developing accountability in the lives of youth: Defining the operational features of juvenile treatment courts. Drug Court Review 7(1):125-170.

9Wilson, D., Olaghere, A., and Kimbrell, C.S. 2016. Developing Juvenile Court Practices on Process Standards: A Systematic Review and Qualitative Synthesis. Fairfax, VA: George Mason University.

10Choo, K., Petrosino, A., Persson, H., Fronius, T., Guckenburg, S., and Earl, K. 2016. Juvenile Drug Courts: Policy and Practice Scan. San Francisco, CA: WestEd Justice and Prevention Research Center.