Reclaiming Futures Juvenile Drug Courts Inter-Sites Training

November 23, 2011

[Note: This entry posted on behalf of Jessica Pearce, Projects Coordinator, Juvenile and Family Law Department, NCJFCJ]

Juvenile drug courts serve a critical role in helping youth address, and ultimately overcome, concurrent substance abuse and delinquent behavior. Comprehensive interventions for juvenile substance abuse are of particular importance because substance abuse is a risk factor for system-involvement and future health problems.

With nearly 500 juvenile drug courts operating nationwide, it is clear that many communities have found them to be a good solution for those youth that fit the profile – high criminogenic risk and a need for substance abuse treatment. But what about the other youth in a community, those with a low criminogenic risk and high need for substance abuse treatment or those who fall somewhere in between? After all the juvenile drug court is just one docket and isn’t designed to meet the needs of every substance using youth in a community. How can a jurisdiction use the lessons learned from successfully collaborating on a juvenile drug court, to create more programs and services for substance abusing youth in their communities?

As it turns out, in 2006 the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), both funders of juvenile drug courts, were asking these same questions. Their solution: to take those lessons learned in juvenile drug courts and leverage them to create system-wide change through Reclaiming Futures. Reclaiming Futures is a six step model that emphasizes a “coordinated individualized response” and “community directed engagement” for all justice-involved substance using youth.

In cooperation,  OJJDP and CSAT have funded a total of nine sites to pilot test this concept. The selected sites were asked to use the multi-disciplinary collaboration of the juvenile drug court as the launching pad for system-wide reform of Reclaiming Futures with an emphasis on evidence-based adolescent substance abuse treatment. The NCJFCJ and Reclaiming Futures National Program Office have been working together to provide training and technical assistance support to the communities undertaking this daunting task.

These efforts will culminate next week in Kansas City at the first ever “Reclaiming Futures Juvenile Drug Courts Inter-Sites Training.” Teams from all nine sites will be on hand for three days of learning and collegial networking. In addition, NCJFCJ and Reclaiming Futures will use this opportunity to learn from the sites with the hope of creating a blueprint for other jurisdictions interested in following in their footsteps.

For more information about the project, please contact Jessica Pearce, at (775) 784-1661 or

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