A Guide to the Guidelines Series: Practical Tips for Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts to Implement

A Guide to the Guidelines Series: Practical Tips for Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts to Implement

May 1, 2017

May is National Drug Court Month! The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) celebrates the success of adult drug courts, juvenile drug treatment courts, family dependency treatment courts, tribal healing to wellness courts, DWI courts, and veterans’ treatment courts across the U.S. 

Juvenile drug treatment courts (JDTCs) in particular serve a critical role in helping youth address, and ultimately overcome, concurrent substance use and delinquent behaviors. Comprehensive interventions for juvenile substance use are important because early substance use is a risk factor for justice system involvement and lifelong addiction issues. The NCJFCJ is proud to be the resource for training and technical assistance for JDTCs nationwide, providing support to these vital programs as they undertake the work to help youth transform their lives.
The first juvenile drug treatment courts started in 1995, following the implementation of the adult drug court model. In 2003, a joint project of the National Drug Court Institute (NDCI), the NCJFCJ, and practitioners in the juvenile drug treatment court field developed the Strategies in Practice, which served as suggested practice for JDTCs to implement and operate a JDTC as well as to supply a structure for evaluation and research. The recommendations developed in the Strategies in Practice, based largely on practitioner perspective and practice, served as an important historical perspective in the development of the new Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines (Guidelines) released this year. The Guidelines are based in research and evidence-based practices, and if followed, increase the probability that JDTCs will be able to implement successfully recommended practices for youth and their families. 
The NCJFCJ provides training to professionals working in the juvenile drug treatment court field focusing on strengthening the ability to offer quality, evidence-based adolescent services within a team framework: 
  • Introduce concepts and awareness of a topic or issue
  • Improve practice on a national, regional, and local level
  • Improve individual effectiveness and build on a participant’s existing knowledge and encourage/implement change
  • Change team practice and move the team from current practice to recommended practice
  • Assist  the self-guided learner with moving from the introduction of concepts through to a change in practice at his or her own pace
Technical Assistance
  • Build capacity
  • Assess needs
  • Initiate strategic planning
  • Implement appropriate improvements
  • Evaluate program performance and help sustain programs

Linking Courts to the Evidence-Based Treatment Community

  • The Adolescent-Based Treatment Database (Database), compiled by the NCJFCJ, supplies information on validated treatment interventions and assessment instruments
  • A one-stop-shop for JDTCs researching adolescent-focused treatment and assessment instruments
  • The Database serves as a valuable tool by detailing intervention basics, providing special considerations regarding specific treatment interventions, and providing engagement strategies for providers, allied agencies, youth, and families
  • The Database provides a Comparison Matrix to help readers quickly identify brief, individual, group, and family interventions that may work in their jurisdiction
National Drug Court Month has been celebrated for more than 20 years throughout treatment court communities across the country. National Drug Court Month is organized by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) each year.
JDTC professionals and teams are encouraged to download the National Drug Court Month kit, which includes instructions and samples for courts to contact their state’s Senators and Representatives and invite them to attend graduation ceremonies. Additionally, treatment court communities can spread the word through NADCP’s media kit to share the importance of future funding for treatment courts across the nation. 
For more information about National Drug Court Month, please click on the following links: 
Throughout the month of May the NCJFCJ will publish a series of blogs with advice and tips on the new Guidelines, as well as other resources to recognize National Drug Court Month.
For more information on NCJFCJ's Juvenile Drug Treatment Court work, visit the Information Center here.

Connecting the Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Philosophy to Practice
By: Martha-Elin Blomquist

Ensuring Equity and Access in the Juvenile Drug Treatment Court
By: Jessica Pearce

Working Together as a Team to Build Family Engagement
By: Jessica Pearce

Reinforcing Behaviors that Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Teams Want to See in Youth
By: Wendy Schiller

Welcoming Evidence-Based Treatments (EBTs) and Building Accountability for the Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Team, Youth, and Family
By: Martha-Elin Blomquist

Achieving Confidence with Data Collection: How to Monitor and Manage your Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts Progress
By: Elizabeth Christensen and Sarah Trescher

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