Hennepin County, Minnesota

Through collaborative effort to redesign out-of-home placement used by both the Department of Community Corrections & Rehabilitation (DOCCR) and Human Services and Public Health Department (HSPHD), Hennepin County leadership discovered the lack of a coordinate and coherent approach to addressing the risks and needs of youth involved in the delinquency and dependency systems.  Identified issues included the breakdown of information sharing across departments, case management coordination, and lessened awareness of the role of each department and how to meaningfully work together.  There was a lack of a coordinated effort to share appropriate and effective community-based and out-of-placement resources for dually-involved youth.  There was a lack of cross-system casework training and policies, as well as a lack of a joint-assessment or joint case management requirements.  Resources were not shared between the two departments, and staff was typically limited to resources available only in their department.  These breakdowns have resulted in duplication of services, poor matching of interventions with the youth’s/families’ risks and needs, poor family engagement, multiple placements, and unacceptable outcomes for some of our youth with more complex needs.

Based on these findings, Hennepin County sought to:

  • Develop rules, policies, and procedures for increased data sharing among the parties that are working Hennepin County Juvenile Services;
  • Develop a memorandum of understanding to allow data sharing for crossover youth, i.e., youth involved in both the dependency and delinquency systems; 
  • Support the memorandum of understanding with court orders that allow for specific types of data to be shared;
  • Develop an integrated data sharing plan;
  • Utilize integrated data from both systems for performance measurement; and
  • Assure the institutionalization of best practices and collaboration with regard to crossover youth.

The following stakeholders were assembled to accomplish this critical work:

  • Hennepin County Administration
  • Hennepin County Juvenile Court
  • Hennepin County Attorney’s Office
  • Hennepin County Public Defender’s Office
  • Hennepin County Human Service & Public Health Department
  • Hennepin County Department of Community Corrections & Rehabilitation
  • Community advocates and service providers
  • Educational leaders and system staff

The multi-agency collaborative has produced the following:

Information/Data Sharing Agreements:  Hennepin County’s participation in the national Crossover Youth Practice Model (CYPM) at Georgetown University’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform [[hyperlink to: http://cjjr.georgetown.edu/pm/practicemodel.html]] prompted the need for an interagency agreement.  Specifically, the county needed an agreement between Hennepin County’s DOCCR, HSPHD, the Fourth Judicial District Court, and the Hennepin County Attorney’s and Public Defender’s Offices. A Memorandum of Understanding and a Memorandum of Agreement were drafted and signed to promote increased cooperation, coordination, and integration at the administrative and service delivery levels for the benefit of children and families under juvenile protection and delinquency jurisdiction in Hennepin County. The Juvenile Presiding Judge also signed a standing court order in 2012 to allow participating parties in the CYPM to share information and data to accomplish the goals set forth by the practice model and Memorandum of Understanding. 

Data Collection, Management, and Performance Measurement:  Hennepin Juvenile Services has established a structure for data collection, identification of aggregate data reports, and developed dissemination and the procedures for use of reports. Each month, Corporate Compliance and Quality Assurance (CCQA) and DOCCR review all cases open at least one day in the reporting month. The review examines CYPM case information found in the Social Service Information System (SSIS), the Electronic Case File (ECF), the Minnesota Department of Community Corrections database (MAIn), and the Minnesota Court Information System (MNCIS), and compares it to program criteria documented in the Hennepin County Crossover Youth Practice Model Guide. 

Identification:  Hennepin County Juvenile Services addressed the need to improve the timely identification of youth at the point of crossing over. The County Attorney’s Office-Juvenile Prosecution Division is the first point of contact for identifying youth who meet Hennepin County’s crossover youth criteria. When the County Attorney Office reviews a case for charging, the reviewing attorney or their designee will check HSPHD’s SSIS database to determine whether the youth has an open case in human services and whether that youth meets the Crossover Youth criteria. 

Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) Meeting:  Hennepin County Juvenile Services developed a Multidisciplinary Team meeting to ensure effective intersystem coordination and promote collaboration between agencies.  A Multidisciplinary Team encompassing the Crossover Youth Navigator (whose role includes initially identifying the crossover youth and then facilitating the MDT meeting), representatives from the County Attorney’s and Public Defender’s Offices, the youth’s case manager(s) and probation officers, representative from the Guardian Ad Litem’s Office, and other juvenile stakeholders depicts the beginning of collaboration between the two departments. The meetings are MDT meetings are held within 7 to 14 days of identification and provide an opportunity to review the crossover youth’s strengths, as well as identify gaps and/or barriers in preventing the youth from receiving appropriate and effective services.  At the conclusion of the meeting, suggestions are offered to guide the preparation for the upcoming meeting with the youth and parents/caregivers. The MDT develops next steps, identifies appropriate supervision and community resources, and implements timely and appropriate placement/service plans that promote community safety and serve the child’s best interest.

Standardized Program Evaluation Protocol (SPEP) in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is a large state with a de-centralized juvenile justice system.  There are 67 counties, 60 judicial districts, and hundreds of public and private service providers and programs for delinquent youth.  Each county probation department contracts with service providers to serve their youth, but there was no standardized approach to evaluate the services and outcomes of these providers/programs. 

In 2010, Pennsylvania launched the Juvenile Justice System Enhancement Strategy (JJSES).  Through the JJSES, the state juvenile justice system strives to enhance the capacity of Pennsylvania’s juvenile justice system to achieve its Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) mission through the use of evidence-based practices at every stage of the juvenile justice process.  Collection and analysis of data is necessary to measure results and to continuously improve the quality of decisions, services, and programs.

The Standardized Program Evaluation Protocol (SPEP) is a validated and data-driven rating system that by comparing the key characteristics of a specific programs to those the research shows are effective in reducing recidivism evaluates the likelihood that a program will reduce recidivism.  Dr. Mark Lipsey of Vanderbilt University developed SPEP and the system has been implemented in several jurisdictions.  Leaders involved in Pennsylvania’s JJSES learned about SPEP when they attended a training at the Center of Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) at Georgetown University.  The team that attended this training was drawn to SPEP because its evidence-based methodology filled a gap in the JJSES that sought to balance an interest in proven-effective evidence-based programs with an interest in evaluating the effectiveness of locally-developed or less researched juvenile justice programs.  Subsequently, Pennsylvania applied to, and was accepted into CJJR’s Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project, with Berks County serving as the pilot.

SPEP was initially piloted by Berks County and subsequently adopted by the JJSES leadership team as a key part of the JJSES.  In 2013,a SPEP Advisory Group -- with members consisting of state agencies, county probation staff, providers and staff from the Evidence-based Prevention and Intervention Support Center (EPISCenter) – took on coordination of SPEP throughout Pennsylvania.  The SPEP Advisory Group leans heavily on the experience of Berks County and the continued lessons learned in the four additional counties that have been added to the SPEP pilot.  With funding from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) and the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW) the EPISCenter has been charged with developing materials, trainings, and processes for stakeholders, and the actual implementation of SPEP. 

So far more than 60 services from 30 providers have begun the SPEP process.  Data to calculate SPEP scores are drawn from the statewide Juvenile Court Management System (JCMS) database and the service provider, which provides detailed information about the youth they serve, including the types of interventions, the duration of interventions, and the reason for program discharge.  Preliminary findings from the Pennsylvania SPEP initiative are promising.  More than 70% of services evaluated have achieved an initial SPEP score of over 50, which implies that the services are likely reducing recidivism rates.  Two thirds of services are operating with medium or high quality of service delivery.  Although SPEP scores show that most current programs reduce recidivism, the SPEP score also indicates areas that need to be improved. As a result, each program develops a program improvement plan, which is a vital part of the SPEP process.  A second finding is that providers and probation staff are becoming more aware of the importance of sharing assessment information, such as youth’s results on the Youth Level of Service (YLS) needs assessment instrument, and they are also sharing those assessments.  A third finding is that after participating in the SPEP, juvenile probation departments have a better understanding of the services being delivered by agencies and are thus better equipped to make data driven decisions regarding services; they are able to refer the right kids, to the right programs, for the right amount of time. 

The SPEP Advisory Group has several key takeaways for implementing SPEP.  First, it is key that messages to all stakeholders are clear and consistent.  Communications about SPEP have emphasized the partnership and dual-ownership of the SPEP results by both providers and probation.  Probation staff take part in the SPEP scoring and Program Improvement Plans (PIPs) are designed and agreed upon by the service provider, probation department and the SPEP Consultant.  Second, SPEP is not solely a way to "rate" providers, but an invaluable tool that will enable system enhancement through improvements in both probation referral practice and provider service delivery.  While SPEP scores a service, it also provides an opportunity for providers and probation to collaborate on what type of service being offered, who is the target population for the service, how long should youth receive the service and what will make this program operate at its maximum effectiveness. Therefore, SPEP provides both a rating of a service and an opportunity for system improvement.  Third, the improvement process and focus on continual improvement may be more important than the initial score.  Because messaging around these key areas has been consistent and transparent, the SPEP initiative has achieved a tremendous amount of buy-in from both providers and probation.  Finally, the voluntary nature of the SPEP during the pilot phase has made programs more likely to buy into the methodology at their own pace.  Each of the five counties and 30 providers have chosen to be part of this improvement process, with other counties and providers showing interest in participating in the next pilot phase.  

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