Skip to main content

Working in a JDTC Team


Working as a multidisciplinary team in the juvenile justice system is more common than it was when JDTCs were first introduced as problem-solving courts; however, reaching a collaborative advantage as a team remains a challenge. JDTC team members are tasked with becoming experts in substance-use service delivery, adolescent development, behavior change, community outreach, trauma-informed practices, just to name a few of the topics members should be trained in. They also have to set aside agency agendas to meet the goals of the JDTC. All of this is easier said than done! Use the tips, questions, answers, and resources found here to reach a collaborative advantage as a team to better serve youth and families. 

Tips for Implementation and Enhancement  

  • Ensure that the core JDTC members are represented. According to the JDTC Guidelines, the core stakeholders of a fully formed JDTC team are a: judge, coordinator, clinical treatment supervisor or clinical treatment provider, juvenile probation officer (and/or a juvenile probation supervisor), public defender, prosecuting attorney, and school representative. 
  • Develop Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) that adequately outline confidentiality and information-sharing in JDTCs. Follow the steps outlined in “7 (Easy) Steps to Confidentiality and Information-Sharing in Juvenile Drug Courts” found in the 7 Series: 7 Articles with 7 Easy Steps to Improving Your Juvenile Drug Court (pages 14-16). 
  • Clarify roles, responsibilities, and expectations as a team using Greater Than the Sum of Their Parts: Clarifying Roles, Responsibilities, and Expectations of Juvenile Drug Court Teams. Page 14 includes instructions on how to facilitate the “JDC Team Role Definition Activity,” which should be done on an annual basis to reaffirm these roles/responsibilities, especially for new team members.  

Frequently Asked Questions

How can we engage a school liaison to serve on the JDTC team? 

JDTC teams experience many barriers when it comes to forming an effective partnership with local schools, so the best way to engage a school liaison is to be intentional and proactive. Use the strategies below to consider, develop, and implement strategies to enlist a school liaison: 

How can we effectively transition new members onto the team? 

This is an ongoing challenge for JDTC teams; however, addressing this challenge should be a fairly easy task. The JDTC coordinator should draft a formal transition policy/checklist to follow when a new team member is added to the JDTC team. 

How do we ensure the JDTC team is fully trained on an ongoing basis? 

It is common that training for the team occurs on an ad hoc basis, rather than in a strategic way that ensures the entire team attends effective training. For example, there may be some extra funding for three team members to attend a national conference one year but it isn’t consistent or reliable. The JDTC judge and/or JDTC coordinator should develop a policy that includes strategically planning for yearly training. This can be accomplished by designing a yearly training calendar. Consider designing your training calendar at the same time every year, for example – after the fiscal budget is ready, in December, as a close-out activity for the year, or after reviewing/analyzing programmatic data. The training calendar should include:  

  • State and national JDTC training events – add dates, location, funding source, team members attending. Also, strategically plan to attend these training events in an efficient way by using the “Strategically Training as a Team Technical Assistance Brief” guide to develop a training action plan prior to attending large-scale training events as a team (Note: this technical assistance brief is currently being approved by OJJDP, check back soon for the approved version)
  • Monthly training topics – deliver information during a “lunch-and-learn” or other team meetings throughout the year. 
    • Use the worksheets entitled “Fundamental Topics: What You Need to Know for Planning Your JDC” on pages 17-53 of Starting a Juvenile Drug Court: A Planning Guide to cover important information that current and new JDTC team members should be well versed on. This section of the planning guide includes nine single subject worksheets that each have four main sections: 1) Why learning about this topic is essential; 2) What your team needs to know; 3) Recommended Resources; and 4) Questions for Discussion. The nine single subject worksheets include the following topics:  
      • Adolescent Development
      • Strengths-Based Approaches
      • Cultural Proficiency
      • Engaging the Family
      • Substance Abuse, Addiction, and Pharmacology
      • Treatment Approaches
      • Gender-Appropriate
      • Approaches
      • Trauma-Informed Care
      • Mental Health and Co-Occurring Disorders
    • Engage JDTC team members in delivering in-service training for the team. The team itself has subject matter expertise that can be shared to further understanding of agency rules, treatment standards/approaches, legal issues, etcetera. Take advantage of this expertise to build a robust training calendar. 
  • Other continuing education – add other non-JDTC specific training events that are available. For example, attorneys may have yearly continuing legal units that must be earned. This step allows the full team to understand where additional training is occurring and may lead to other in-service training opportunities.