Clearly Defined Target Population and Eligibility Criteria

Define a target population and eligibility criteria that are aligned with the program’s goals and objectives.

Given the large population of youth who can potentially benefit from the intensive services of a juvenile drug court, one of the major tasks in its planning is to determine the characteristics and backgrounds of the youth who will be served by the program. This involves two steps - first, define the target population; and second, set the program eligibility criteria to screen youth from the target  population. Because this task is fundamental in setting the direction of the program, it is essential that all stakeholders are involved. (Excerpt taken from Juvenile Drug Courts: Strategies in Practice)

Resources & Tools

Use the In-Practice Tip Sheet on Clearly Defined Target Population and Eligibility Criteria to provide operational steps to implementing the 16 Strategies in Practice. The Target and Eligibility Tip Sheet focuses on collecting and analyzing data; how the team should utilize validated screening and assessment tools; target population; and eligibility criteria.

For additional In-Practice Tip Sheets click on Practical Tips to Help Juvenile Drug Court Teams Implement the 16 Strategies In Practice.  



Webinar: Juvenile Drug Court Eligibility Criteria and Target Population webinar recorded earlier this year features Michael Garrett and Tricia Lucido from the Reclaiming Futures Montgomery County, Ohio's Juvenile Drug Court (JDC) where they received a grant to expand their JDC and are now able to serve up to 125 youth. In this webinar they discuss their history and provide information on how they were able to expand to serve to additional clients. In addition, the faculty explores how to match your JDC population target population to your community and available resources. To view this webinar, please click here or press play below.

Click here to download the accompanying presentation slides

Things to Consider

  • Criminal justice and social indicator data are regularly analyzed, so the team can monitor shifts in the culture of substance use by youth.
  • The team only accepts juveniles who meet the targeting and eligibility criteria.
  • The team utilizes numerous screening and assessment tools, so the team can make well informed decisions about program acceptance.
  • The juvenile drug treatment court conducts random case file audits to determine where gaps exist in policy vs. practice.