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Advancing Juvenile Justice System Reforms

woman wearing gray shawl beside man in pale blue polo shirt with pale blue background; renee boothroyd on left and robin jenkins on right

Advancing Juvenile Justice System Reforms

January 17, 2023

Through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) Juvenile Justice Reform Initiative, the Impact Center at UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute’s Robin Jenkins, PhD, and Renée Boothroyd, PhD, are helping the Nebraska Administrative Offices of Courts and Probation (AOCP) create readiness for, and capacities to, effectively implement Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice recommendations stemming from a comprehensive statewide system review.

This review addresses administration, probation supervision, intra- and interagency work processes, and quality assurance/quality improvement elements within juvenile justice systems. The review results in a comprehensive report detailing recommended reforms developed in partnership with evidence-based practice leaders along with Nebraska’s AOCP collaborating stakeholders.

Jenkins, Boothroyd and the Impact Center are providing onsite and virtual training, technical assistance, coaching, experiential learning, and other capacity building approaches. Their goal is to help Nebraska’s state administrative office of the courts and probation (AOCP) director and executive leadership team learn implementation science best practices, build system readiness, and co-design leadership and change management practices to better prepare for and execute recommended reforms.

“One exciting 'side effect' of this work,” notes Jenkins, “is that the Nebraska’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican became interested in learning how implementation science may be able to improve Nebraska’s Supreme Court operations and practices.”

Jenkins and Boothroyd have worked with Nebraska for a year and a half. During that time, they have witnessed significant growth in executive leaders’ understanding and use of implementation science-informed best practices. “Policies have evolved to include an intentional, deliberate focus on implementation science as a key business practice at every level of the system,” says Jenkins. “New teaming structures have evolved in service to the best practice of linking, and leveraging, leadership and implementation teams to facilitate communications, networking, intra- and interagency collaborations, and the use of feedback and ongoing continuous learning.”

Jenkins is thrilled that Nebraska’s AOCP has adopted implementation science as one if its five key leadership priorities for the next few years, which will allow for the infusion of research-supported evidence into all aspects of the courts and probation systems.

“One exciting 'side effect' of this work,” notes Jenkins, “is that the Nebraska’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican became interested in learning how implementation science may be able to improve Nebraska’s Supreme Court operations and practices.” As a result, Boothroyd and Jenkins have been invited to present at some leadership events by the Chief Justice and Court Administrator to facilitate adult learning, self-assessment, and some system redesign toward stronger use of evidence in the way the Supreme Court operates.

Jenkins and Boothroyd would welcome the opportunity to apply this model to help other states in the pursuit of juvenile justice reform.