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Reform areas

Targeting juvenile justice leverage points to stimulate system-wide reforms

Models for Change focuses on targeted reform areas to build on existing progress and trigger broader juvenile justice system-wide change. The core states  have generated tools, resources and lessons to promote reforms related to those issues. The initiative also advances improvements in the reform areas through the work of the action networks, and the resource centers.


In a model system, youth returning to the community after a period of residential placement would be quickly connected with the programs and services they need to adjust and succeed.

Community-based alternatives

In a model system, responses to delinquency would be local and informal whenever possible, and all but a limited number of youth would be supervised, sanctioned, and treated in community settings.

Dual status youth

A model system would provide the kind of coordinated, multi-system integration that improves outcomes for dual status youth, those youth that move between the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

Evidence-based practices

In a model system, programs, practices and services would be based on research, having demonstrated their effectiveness or shown a strong likelihood of success in improving juvenile offenders’ behavior or skills.

Juvenile indigent defense

A model system would safeguard the procedural and substantive rights of all youth who come into conflict with the law.

Mental health

In a model system, professionals in the fields of juvenile justice, child welfare, mental health, substance abuse, and education would work collaboratively to meet the needs of youth without unnecessary system involvement.

Racial and ethnic fairness/disproportionate minority contact

In a model system, youth would receive fair treatment regardless of their race or ethnicity.

Status offense reform

A model system would provide strategies to safely and effectively divert non-delinquent youth from the formal juvenile justice system.


Supported by

Models for Change is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, website operated by Justice Policy Institute.