JDTC Learning Collaborative ~ Recommended Practices

Risk/Need and Substance Use Screening and Assessment 

The Learning Collaborative sites will be expected to assess needs and gaps regarding capacity to implement AND use validated screening and assessment instruments. Sites will receive expert support in this endeavor, as well as support in implementing the instruments. The implementation of screening and assessment instruments will include using data collected to inform acceptance into the JDTC and active case planning efforts by the team.

Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts: Strategies in Practice 

Sites will work on implementing and adhering to the 16 Strategies, which were published in 2003 by the NCJFCJ and the National Drug Court Institute to help courts develop a framework for a juvenile drug court. The strategies were developed to emphasize differences between adults and juveniles – adolescent development; family dynamics; and school-based support. Since that time, “a great deal of research has been completed…which has tested and evaluated the impact on outcomes of following each of the individual…16 Strategies in Practice” (Lutze, F. & van Wormer, J. (2011) Exploring the Evidence: The Value of Juvenile Drug Courts, Juvenile & Family Justice Today, Volume 20, Number 3, 16-20. Note: "What We Know" section can be found on page 18 of the article). Learning Collaborative sites will focus on making enhancements to their courts based on “what we know” works in juvenile drug courts, as well as work on other systemic changes (i.e., becoming trauma-informed). 

What We Know

  • When juvenile drug treatment courts utilize a wide range of non-detention based sanctions, they can experience cost-savings as high as $5,000 per participant.
  • Team members matter! Juvenile drug court team members need to be aligned philosophically, and the judge continues to be a critical position on the team—for the youth, families, and team members.
  • Adding and adhering to evidence-based practices (e.g. multisystemic therapy), to the juvenile drug court model, as well as addressing parental supervision and peer influence, significantly increases positive outcomes.
  • Youth who have active parent participation in the drug court perform better while in the drug court program compared to youth with non-involved parents.7
  • Exposure to professional training, as well as frequency of training, is correlated with stronger adherence to the 16 Strategies in Practice. In other words, train often and ensure that all team members are exposed to a wide range of training topics.
  • Team members must be assigned to the drug court for a significant period of time. Rotating and/or temporary positions are ineffective and negatively impact the cost-benefit of the program.