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Springfield Daily Citizen, Example for the nation: Greene County’s juvenile justice reform

News / NCJFCJ News / Springfield Daily Citizen, Example for the nation: Greene County’s juvenile justice reform

In 2015, it was challenging to track the successes — or shortcomings — of the Greene County juvenile justice system. Today, with a data-driven approach, Greene County has become a national model.

That is why Bill Prince, Greene County’s family court administrator and chief juvenile officer, and Rachel Hogan, the director of quality services at the Greene County Juvenile Justice Center, are leading a conversation about “fostering a continuous quality improvement culture in child welfare and family court” at the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges’ (NCJFCJ) 86th annual conference.

The conference, which takes place in Baltimore in July, is an opportunity for judges and other juvenile and family court professionals to learn and share their successes. It will be Greene County’s next stop in showing off the positive outcomes collecting and analyzing data can have on the juvenile justice system.

“We’re moving to a place where we should be able to know live time, what’s the percentage of kids that recidivate, that went to diversion,” Hogan said. “I just think we have a lot of vision to be able to produce more live time statistics that normally it would take three to six months to develop.”

When Prince was first appointed to his position at the Greene County Juvenile Justice Center in 2015, he knew, as a “non-math guy,” that he and the staff needed statistics to measure the success rates of their services.

“One thing that sort of struck me is that we really didn’t measure anything,” Prince said. “We were kind of doing the same thing, day after day, without an eye on results.”

Greene County wasn’t alone in the shortcomings of data tracking in its juvenile justice system.

“It’s pretty rare across the country that people track their outcomes,” Hogan said. “Everyone kind of has an understanding of the number of cases that come in, but to be able to lift like your reunification percentage, that’s kind of a struggle across the country.”

Their data-driven approach began to take form in 2018 when Hogan was hired. Hogan sought to focus on“effectiveness and efficiency” and adopt a growth mindset. It was also during this period of time that GreeneCounty became a “laboratory for change,” and applied to become an “implementation site” of new industry practices through a competitive application process with the NCJFCJ.

Joey Orduña Hastings, the CEO of NCJFCJ, praised the progress Greene County has made since it started leaning into data collection and analysis.

“Data can be challenging,” Hastings said. “It can tell you things you don’t really want to know, but that you need to know.”

Read the story here.