As Reclaiming Futures enters its 16th year of operation, we reflect on our unique contributions to the juvenile justice reform efforts of the past couple decades. What is most concretely evident to the field is our public health oriented approach and the creation of an accessible stepwise model, designed for juvenile justice settings, to organize the way they identify treatment need and then deliver developmentally appropriate and evidence-based treatment responses that are then sustained by community supports. In order to make our six-step approach work at the local level, we partner with jurisdictions to break down silos and build authentic collaboration across a number of systems that serve youth.
In creating and disseminating this approach, Reclaiming Futures sets a higher standard for treatment practice in youth justice settings. Our recent OJJDP-funded national evaluation shows that, in the case of juvenile treatment courts, the Reclaiming Futures approach may make the difference between a treatment court that doesn’t consistently meet the treatment needs of its participating youth and one that not only improves treatment access and treatment matching, but then produces significant cost savings.
What is much less apparent to the field is the “collective impact” strategy that has been the bread and butter of the Reclaiming Futures practice for the past 15 years: Reclaiming Futures operates a national multi-disciplinary learning collaborative consisting of jurisdictions across the country. This collaborative functions as a peer support network, a resource bank, a communication and learning platform, but more than anything else, as a space to build a common reform agenda and shared mission.
This past year, Jeffrey Butts, Director of John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s Research and Evaluation Center, released a report: Reclaiming Futures and Organizing Justice for Drug-Using Youth. The report examines the role our collective impact strategy plays in the jurisdictions where we’ve worked. In this month’s Reclaiming Futures newsletter we highlight a new blog post by our own Bridget Murphy who reviews Dr. Butts’ report.