SORC Toolkit Module 2: Using Local Information to Guide System Change
Published Mar 19, 2014, Status Offense Resource Center, Vera Institute of Justice
Transforming a juvenile justice oriented status offense system – one that is likely complex and has been in place for decades – into one that is community-based, family-focused, and service oriented can be difficult. Questions commonly raised by state and local officials looking to make such changes include: Who should be involved? What should our new system look like? And, most critical, how will we know if it’s effective?
To help address these and many other questions, the Status Offense Reform Center (SORC) has developed A Toolkit for Status Offense System Reform. The purpose of the toolkit is simple: to provide the guidance and tools you need to create—outside of the juvenile justice system—an approach for responding to and serving youth charged with status offenses in the community.
The toolkit is organized into four modules: (1) Structuring System Change (2) Using Local Information to Guide System Change (3) Planning and Implementing System Changeand (4) Monitoring and Sustaining System Change.
Using Local Information to Guide System Change describes how to assess your system in a way that will help you design, implement, and sustain a reform approach that is data-driven, attuned to your jurisdiction’s unique strengths and needs, and much more likely to succeed.
Step 1: Plan a System Assessment describes how to plan a system assessment that will allow you to identify the extent to which current operations align with or deviate from the features of an effective community-based status offense system. Specifically, it offers guidance on how to:
- Review scope
- Review roles and responsibilities
- Affirm timeline
Step 2: Review the policies that govern the status offense system describes how to examine the statues (laws) and regulations (agency rules) that govern your system to ascertain what is and is not required at each system point.
Step 3: Collect Quantitative Data on How, and by Whom, the System is Being Used describes how to gather data on the volume and characteristics of youth across your system, allowing you to isolate those areas that are working well and those that are broken and in need of repair. Specifically, it offers guidance on how to collect high-level, aggregate statistics on the following data elements:
- Case volume
- Referral source
- Service needs and prior/other system involvement
- Case processing times and costs
- Type of detention facility, length of stay, and cost
- Type of placement facility, lengthy of stay, and cost
Step 4: Collect Qualitative Data on How Local Stakeholders Perceive the System describes how to gather the impressions, opinions, and general insight of system stakeholders in order to form a more holistic narrative of the system. Specifically, it offers guidance on how to gather this information from the following groups:
- Stakeholders who work in or with the system
- Young people and family members
Step 5: Collect Information on Local Service Capacity describes how to determine the existing local capacity for providing meaningful services to young people engaged in status offense behaviors and their family members. Specifically, it offers guidance on how to:
- Develop a list of service providers
- Survey service providers
Step 6: Analyze the Data describes how to actively and intentionally use the policies and quantitative, qualitative and service capacity information you have worked so hard to collect to inform and drive your work. Specifically, it offers guidance on how to:
- Uncover the narrative of your system
- Present and reflect upon key findings