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Washington was selected as the fourth Models for Change state for its use of evidence-based interventions, its application of program evaluation and cost-benefit analysis techniques to juvenile justice policy-making, and the progress it has made in combating disproportionate minority contact and integrating juvenile justice programs with child welfare and mental health services.

Models for Change worked to transform the juvenile justice system by focusing on expanding alternatives to formal processing and secure confinement, primarily focusing on status offenders, reducing racial and ethnic disparities, and improving the way the system identifies and responds to youth with mental health needs.

In addition to these strategic areas of reform, Models for Change supported reforms in enhancing the quality of legal representation in delinquency cases and improving overall coordination among youth-serving systems.

Learn more about Washington Models for Change

Select reform innovations

  • Reengaging youth in school and reducing unnecessary detention with truancy laws

    A partnership between Benton and Franklin Models for Change counties and Washington State University Division of Governmental Studies and Services developed a truancy process and resources survey for each "school building" in Benton and Franklin Counties to determine consistency and effectiveness of interventions and build best-practices. Read more.

  • Enhancing the cultural competence of evidence-based treatment programs

    Increased African-American Youth’s Functional Family Therapy (FFT) engagement rates from 45% to 83% by creating a specialized FFT caseload with an African-American FFT provider.

  • Using mental health screening protocols to reduce unnecessary referrals to juvenile court

    Washington Models for Change worked with National Youth Screening and Assessment Project (NYSAP) to draft protocols and create a staff training schedule/implementation plan for incorporating standardized mental health screening into the Clark County Truancy Program intake process. Read more. 

Publications and tools


Washington's Models for Change work is coordinated by Center for Children & Youth Justice, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing justice for and enhancing the lives of children and youth through juvenile justice, child welfare, and related systems reform in Washington state. To learn more about Models for Change work in Washington, or how to support juvenile justice reform work in the state, contact Michael Curtis at:

Supported by

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