The Models for Change Information Sharing Tool Kit – Second Edition is a joint product of Juvenile Law Center and the RFK National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice with contributions by Stephanie Rondenell, an independent consultant. The project is funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as part of the Models for Change: Systems Reform in Juvenile Justice. 

The Tool Kit is designed to assist jurisdictions in implementing information and data sharing initiatives in support of juvenile justice reform initiatives. Three distinct levels of categories of information sharing make up the Tool Kit’s Framework. 

Click here for tips on how to use the Tool Kit.  

Development of the Tool Kit 

Juvenile Law Center and staff from the Child Welfare League of America who are now with the RFK National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice published the first edition of the Tool Kit in 2008, with contributions from John Petrila of the University of South Florida and John Morris, formerly of The Technical Assistance Collaborative, Inc. The Tool Kit was developed to directly address challenges that Models for Change sites were facing with respect to information sharing as they sought to advance reform initiatives in their Targeted Areas of Improvement (TAIs).

The idea for the Tool Kit originated at 2007 convening in Chicago with representatives of the Models for Change sites, members of the Models for Change National Resource Bank (NRB), and invited experts. The purpose of the convening was to discuss ways to address the information sharing issues that were arising in Models for Change sites. Meeting participants recognized that the collection and sharing of information and data were critical to the achievement of many of the sites’ objectives. For example, to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile justice system – the key objective of the disproportionate minority contact TAI – jurisdictions needed to collect and analyze data on minority processing; identify deficiencies, inconsistencies and gaps in available data; and work with partners to improve collection and analysis, so as to target appropriate points for intervention. A key goal for sites participating in the mental health TAI was for the juvenile court and juvenile probation to work collaboratively with other child-serving systems (such as child welfare, mental health, drug & alcohol, and education) to prevent the unnecessary involvement of mentally ill and substance abusing youth in the juvenile justice system. Sites focusing on improving aftercare for youth returning home from placements had to develop protocols about when and how those placements would share information about individual youth with community- based providers, to create integrated plans for post-release supervision, supports, and services. Jurisdictions working to increase the availability of Evidence-Based Practices had to collect information to monitor appropriate implementation of these models as well as individual youth outcome data to measure the models’ effectiveness.  

At the same time that they recognized the need for information sharing, meeting participants also noted a number of significant issues and concerns with which sites were grappling. Some issues confronting jurisdictions are particular to only one level of information sharing while other concerns straddle all three categories. Professionals working in juvenile justice and other child-serving agencies need an understanding of the federal and state laws that govern individual information held by various agencies, including any legal prohibitions on disclosure/use as well as when and with whom certain information can be shared. However, stakeholders often have different levels of understanding and misunderstanding of these laws. This, in turn, can lead to the under- and over-sharing of information and its inappropriate uses as well as missed opportunities for coordinated case planning on the individual level and aggregating data for policy and program development and evaluation purposes.

Moreover, it is sometimes difficult for stakeholders, who represent different interests in the system, to come to agreement as to key issues with respect to information sharing for individual case management. These include the purposes and value to youth of information sharing; what are the appropriate limits on sharing; and how to minimize the potential negative collateral consequences of information sharing such as self-incrimination and net widening. In addition, with respect to data collection, aggregation and sharing for law, policy and program development, stakeholders in jurisdictions often make the mistake of developing systems before identifying the key questions they want answered by the aggregated data. Similarly, with respect to program evaluation and performance measurement, stakeholders must first determine the outcomes they wish to achieve and the indicators they will use to measure progress towards those outcomes, and then take their baseline measurements. Without this preliminary legwork, jurisdictions could set up information sharing systems that do not fully meet their needs.

The Tool Kit initially was developed to respond to the needs of NRB members and sites for some easy-to-use, streamlined products and tools to assist them in building and maintaining various information sharing initiatives as part of Models for Change. But after its publication, it became apparent that the Tool Kit is useful to any jurisdiction undertaking an information sharing collaborative to improve outcomes for children in the juvenile justice system. To date, more than 1,100 individuals have downloaded the first edition from the Models for Change website.

Trainings with the Tool Kit 

Members of the Tool Kit project team have delivered trainings to hundreds of professionals utilizing the first edition. Throughout 2009-2010, we held in-person sessions in a number of states participating in Models for Change. To expand the Tool Kit’s reach, the project team partnered with the National Council of Juvenile Justice to present a series of webinars based on the Tool Kit in 2011. Most recently, the project team collaborated with the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) at Georgetown University to launch the Information Sharing Certificate Program in October 2012. The information sharing certificate program attracts interagency teams from around the country made up of professionals representing diverse agencies including juvenile justice, child welfare, education, mental health, and adult corrections. Our collaboration with CJJR is ongoing and our fourth information sharing certificate program took place on December 8-11, 2014.

Limitations on Use of Tool Kit Materials 

The second edition of the Tool Kit is not available in hard copy; however, users can download materials from this website. Anyone may use the material on this microsite for educational purposes so long as you identify the material as being the property of Juvenile Law Center and the RFK National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice. You must contact Juvenile Law Center to request permission if you wish to use the materials on this microsite for commercial purposes in print, electronic, or any other medium, or if you wish to alter the content of the material. 

The material presented on this microsite is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.

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