This guide provides information on using effective community-based programs to reduce youth incarceration and achieve positive outcomes for high and complex need youth.
This guide is intended for use by criminal justice officials and youth advocates interested in using community-based programs to reduce youth incarceration and achieve positive outcomes for high and complex need youth. The key messages outlined in the document are 1) a lack of effective alternatives for high-need youth contributes to youth incarceration; 2) virtually anything that can be done in an institution can be done better in the community; 3) systems can redirect institutional dollars toward less expensive community programs; 4) communities can't climb out of poverty, neighborhood violence, and other risk factors through incarceration, especially of their youth; and 5) community-based programs that provide the right amount of intensity can provide safe and effective alternatives to youth incarceration and residential placement. The guide discusses in detail elements of effective community-based programs for high need youth. These elements are accept all kids and adopt "no reject" policies; be available, accessible and flexible; empower voice, choice and ownership; individualize services for each youth; ensure family-focused services; take a strength-based approach; provide culturally competent services; engage youth in work; prioritize safety and crisis planning; provide unconditional caring (no-eject policies); create opportunities for civic engagement and giving back; and cultivate long-term connections to community. The guide highlights successful programs that have been used in communities around the country and provides a set of recommendations for State and local governments, youth advocates, and the Federal Government on implementing these programs. References
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