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Community Engagement in Juvenile Drug Court: Lessons Learned

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2015
6 pages
Based on findings of the National Cross-Site Evaluation of Juvenile Drug Courts and Reclaiming Futures (JDC/RF National Cross-Site Evaluation), which assessed the implementation and impacts of five JDC/RF pilot sites, this report outlines the lessons learned on how a JDC/RF program can improve its community-engagement component.
Under the JDC/RF model, community partners have an important role in service delivery. The community-engagement component has two distinct but related elements: (1) engaging community members and organizations in JDC/RF planning and programming; and (2) engaging JDC/RF youth in community services and activities. The evaluation draws four lessons for strengthening the community- engagement component of a JDC/RF program. First, educate the staff and the community about JDC/RF's focus on community engagement. Second, develop a formal structure for engaging community partners. This involves designating a community-oriented staff member to be the primary community contact; contacting potential community partners to discuss specific requests or proposals; setting the terms of the collaboration early in the partnership; and cultivating interactions with community agencies that are mutually beneficial. Third, create and regularly update a community resource "map" that shows what and where community services and activities are being provided to program youth and their families. Fourth, establish protocols for linking youth with available community resources. This involves addressing barriers to youths' engagement with the community, establishing formal linkage protocols, and identifying resources that facilitate program linkages to community services and activities.