|Family Comes First
Today, May 6th, the Campaign for Youth Justice releases its most recent report, FAMILY Comes First: A Workbook to Transform the Justice System by Partnering with Families, which will be the first comprehensive analysis of current family engagement and family partnership practices in juvenile justice systems across the country and provides practical tools and resources for juvenile justice system practitioners invested in undertaking a family-driven approach to juvenile justice. We know that the ability of family members to meaningfully participate in their children’s lives makes a dramatic difference on youth outcomes. FAMILY Comes First provides a framework—The FAMILY Model—to guide efforts to create and sustain meaningful family-system partnerships.
Through literature review, family focus groups and system practitioner surveys, we learned that system stakeholders are working together with families to break down stereotypes and stigma, engage families in individual treatment decisions and larger policy reforms, and prepare youth for productive futures. In the past few years, the juvenile justice field has made major strides in elevating the importance of family involvement to overall system reform efforts. We have come a long way even though we have far to go. FAMILY Comes First fills that gap by providing a clear and intentional guide to transforming the justice system by taking a family-driven approach.
Recommendations in the report include:
- A National Technical Assistance Center on Family Engagement should be created to provide support to state and local justice and child-serving agencies interested in starting or expanding family engagement programs;
- A National Family Resource Center should be established to serve families in the justice system; and;
- The federal government should also fund state and regional Parental Information Resource Centers for families involved in the justice system, and these centers should be co-located and coordinated with existing parent centers already funded by other child-serving agencies.
State and local policymakers:
- Each agency and program having contact with children and families involved in the justice system should hire or appoint a staff person, preferably a family member or former system-involved youth, to coordinate family engagement efforts and activities;
- Every justice system agency and program with responsibility for children and youth should conduct a comprehensive assessment to develop specific strategies to implement a family-driven approach to juvenile justice; and
- Existing federal and state funding sources should be identified to support family engagement programs and related services to families in the justice system.
This workbook is designed to:
- Educate the reader about the need to support families involved in the justice system;
- Provide ideas to Train families and practitioners to challenge existing stereotypes about families and spark conversations about improving the justice system;
- Identify ways to expand upon the positive changes already underway in the community; and
- Develop a policy agenda to pursue at the local, state, and federal levels to build family-system partnerships.
This workbook was funded in large part by a generous grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
For more information and a copy of the Executive Summary of the Family Comes First workbook, please visit here. To purchase a copy of Family Comes First, click here.