Improving Dispositional Options for Youth in NYC: A Planning Project with the NYC Department of Probation

Vera, in collaboration with NYC’s Department of Probation, will conduct a four-month, three-phase project to study current dispositional service gaps for high-needs youth who are placed in residential facilities due to a lack of community alternatives, survey the landscape of national best practices and locally available services, and propose and operationally define locally appropriate and data informed strategies for addressing the issue.

With the desire to build on recent reforms to reduce the number of NYC youth sent to out-of-home placement, city stakeholders want to better understand the characteristics of youth with high social service needs in order to provide them with appropriate and effective community-based alternatives to placement.
Vera will work with DOP in three overlapping phases:

  • Phase I – Vera will conduct administrative data analysis, case file reviews, and stakeholder interviews to identify the target population and possible alternatives to placement that the justice system could have used,  and solicit the input of stakeholders, youth, and family members.
  • Phase II – Vera will conduct a national scan of promising practices for serving youth with similar characteristics, as well as local system and community-based resources in NYC that can be drawn upon to meet identified gaps.
  • Phase III – The project will culminate in a menu of service options that NYC can consider to better respond to these youth, including a description of the operational processes that are needed to achieve success.

Why Keeping Youth at Home Matters
NYC has worked hard to reduce their reliance on out-of-home placement for young people in the juvenile justice system, reserving it for those youth who pose the highest risks to public safety. Unfortunately, sometimes youth are placed because there are no viable options available to address their level of need. Research has shown that serving youth in more restrictive options than necessary can be counterproductive. It is critical to fill gaps in programming and services so that youth can stay in their communities while receiving the support they need.

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