Children, Youth, and Family

Topics: Children, Youth, and Family

Beyond Offender and Victim: Toward a Humane, Event-Centered Language for Talking about People Involved in Crime and Violence
Beyond Offender and Victim explains rationale behind the Vera demonstration project Common Justice’s use of “harmed party” and “responsible party” to describe the person who survives harm and the person who causes harm, respectively.
Innovations in NYC Health and Human Services Policy: Child Welfare Policy
Removing children from their homes is traumatic for all involved and research shows that entry into foster care raises the risk of long-term adverse effects on children compared to socioeconomically similar children who are not removed, including poor school performance, homelessness, arrest,...
Innovations in NYC Health and Human Services Policy: The Close to Home Initiative and Related Reforms in Juvenile Justice
Guided by research indicating that community-based alternatives are often more effective and less expensive and stigmatizing than placing juvenile offenders in institutional facilities, New York City has worked to reduce over-reliance on such dispositions and to ensure that those youth that may be...


A New Role for Technology: The Impact of Video Visitation on Corrections Staff, Inmates, and their Families

This study, funded by the National Institute of Justice, will explore whether providing incarcerated people with access to video visitation improves the nature and frequency of prisoners’ contact with their families and other people who support them. It will also explore if these contacts improve their compliance with custodial rules and outcomes after their release from prison.

Adolescent Portable Therapy

Established in 2001, Vera's Adolescent Portable Therapy (APT) project provides substance use and mental health treatment for adolescents involved in, or at risk of becoming involved in, the juvenile justice system. The program's family counseling model of service helps families build on their inherent strengths to support their adolescents in making positive changes in their lives. APT also helps other programs to improve their practice through training and technical assistance.

Child Welfare Case Processing in New York City Family Courts

The Vera Institute of Justice is partnering with the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS), the New York State Office of Court Administration (OCA), the New York City Family Court, and Casey Family Programs to conduct an operational review of the abuse and neglect case process flow in the Queens and Bronx family courts. Vera is combining data analyses and findings from interviews and observations to describe how the abuse and neglect cases are processed, identify causes of delay, and develop specific actions that the court and agencies can take to accelerate permanent living arrangements for children.

Common Justice

Common Justice is an innovative victim service and alternative-to-incarceration program based on restorative justice principles. Located in Brooklyn, New York, the program works with young people, 16 to 24 years old, who commit violent felonies, and those they harm. Common Justice aims to reduce violence, facilitate the well-being of those harmed, and transform the criminal justice system’s response to serious crime. The program provides participants with a respectful and effective means of accountability, an equitable and dignified avenue to healing, and the tools to break cycles of violence.

Developing Tools to Support NYC's Close to Home Initiative

In April 2012, New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) contracted with Vera’s Center on Youth Justice (CYJ) to create tools to assist implementation of the state’s new Close to Home Initiative. CYJ will develop a risk-classification tool and an intake-matching form that will guide the placement of youth found guilty of a juvenile delinquency charge in local, privately run facilities

Educational Neglect

In half of U.S. states and the District of Columbia, a parent who does not ensure that his or her child attends school regularly can be charged with educational neglect and referred to child protective services. Most of these cases in New York State involve teenagers, even though experts and current research agree that the child protective system is not well equipped to address teenage absenteeism. Vera is working with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) to study and improve the government’s response to these cases, with support from Casey Family Programs.

Expanding Data Capacity to Study NYC's "Close to Home" Initiative and other Juvenile Justice Practices

In an effort to better monitor the services and programs provided to youth after a court’s disposition (sentence), the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) contracted with Vera’s Center on Youth Justice to expand the capacity of the city’s Juvenile Justice Database (JJDB), a resource designed and managed by Vera that draws on data from multiple agencies to track cases from arrest through disposition.

Housing and Employment Opportunities within the Housing Authority of New Orleans

The Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) strives to offer meaningful access to public housing and employment opportunities for people with criminal records and to keep communities safe and vibrant. Vera is providing research and policy guidance to HANO to inform screening processes that will allow for individualized assessments of the suitability of people with criminal convictions for HANO-assisted housing and employment in the city of New Orleans. This approach aims to reduce long-term negative consequences of criminal convictions while fostering fair and safe communities.

Impact Evaluation of the Adolescent Behavioral Learning Experience Program at Rikers Island

In 2012, the New York City Mayor’s Office launched the nation’s first social impact bond—an innovative return-for-success initiative in which private funding is used to finance public services—to fund the Adolescent Behavioral Learning Experience (ABLE) program, which provides Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) services to adolescents at Rikers Island. Under this model, the funder—the global investment banking, securities, and investment management firm Goldman Sachs—will receive a return on its investment if the number of recidivism bed days—the number of days that people are held in jail custody following their initial release—are reduced by at least 10 percent.

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.

Improving Juvenile Sentencing Recommendations in NYC

Since 2010, with funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Vera’s Center on Youth Justice has provided research support and technical assistance to the New York City Department of Probation (DOP) to plan juvenile sentencing (dispositional) reforms with the goal of minimizing the number of young people removed from their homes following a finding of guilt.

New York Immigrant Family Unity Project

The Vera-administered New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP) is the first public defender program in the country for immigrants facing deportation. NYIFUP, which has received $4.9 million in funding from the New York City Council for the current fiscal year, provides detained indigent immigrants facing deportation at New York’s Varick Street Immigration Court with free, high-quality legal representation. The project, which seeks to keep immigrants with their families and in their communities, will also serve detained New York City residents whose deportation cases are being heard in nearby New Jersey locations.

New York State Juvenile Reentry Consortium

Vera’s Center on Youth Justice (CYJ) will be the facilitator and technical assistance provider for the New York State Juvenile Reentry Consortium, a group of counties that will work collaboratively to improve reentry planning, coordination, and services for youth returning from a period of post-sentencing confinement in private, voluntary residential care facilities. The initiative is funded by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services.

NYCHA Family Reentry Pilot: Reuniting Families in New York City Public Housing

The Vera Institute’s Family Justice Program (Vera) is partnering with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the Corporation for Supportive Housing, the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS), and multiple nonprofit reentry service providers to develop, implement, and study a two-year pilot program that reunites 150 eligible formerly incarcerated individuals with their families in public housing while also providing them with case management services. This project is supported with funding from the Tiger Foundation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and DHS.

Outcome Evaluation of the Multi-Agency Resource Center in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana

In 2012, Vera began conducting an outcome evaluation of Calcasieu Parish’s (Louisiana) Multi-Agency Resource Center (MARC), a one-stop shop that offers same-day intake, immediate assessment, and service referral for youth and families in crisis. Vera researchers are assessing the quality of service matches, speed of case processing, and social service and criminal justice outcomes for youth assessed at the MARC. The project is supported by the MacArthur Foundation, as part of its Models for Change initiative.

PathNet: Helping At-Risk Kids Stay in School and Avoid Justice System Contact in King County, Washington

With funding from the MacArthur Foundation as part of its Models for Change initiative, Vera’s Center on Youth Justice (CYJ) provided technical assistance and research support to King County, Washington to monitor and tailor its PathNet initiative, an integrated “path of networked community organizations” working to prevent system-involved youth from dropping out of school.

School-to-Prison Pipeline Study

Through a grant from the Spencer Foundation, Vera’s Center on Youth Justice (CYJ) is studying how school disciplinary practices—in particular zero-tolerance policies—and other aspects of school climate affect juveniles. The study aims to contribute evidence-based analysis to the public debate over whether harsh school disciplinary protocols push youth toward antisocial and criminal behavior and justice system involvement—a trajectory known as the “school-to-prison pipeline.”

Status Offense Reform Center

Vera’s Center on Youth Justice launched the online Status Offense Reform Center to help jurisdictions rethink and reform their approach to working with youth charged with status offenses. Disobedient but not delinquent, these young people have engaged in behaviors that are prohibited under law only because of their age, such as skipping school, running away, or violating curfew, raising the concern of the adults in their lives. A member of the MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Resource Center Partnership, the center serves as a one-stop shop of information and practical guidance for policymakers and practitioners interested in preventing youth who engage in problematic but noncriminal behavior, such as truancy or running away, from entering the juvenile justice system and providing them with services and supports in the community better suited to meet their needs.

Stop, Question, and Frisk Study

The Stop, Question, and Frisk study examines the impact of the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) stop, question, and frisk policies and practices on young people and families in the most highly patrolled areas in New York City.

Substance Use and Mental Health

Vera’s Substance Use and Mental Health Program uses applied research to help government and community-based organizations create services and policies designed to help people who use substances or have psychiatric disorders avoid criminal justice involvement and receive the services they need to achieve stable community living. Program staff collect quantitative and qualitative data, evaluate existing programs, and review government data to understand the experiences of these populations, the circumstances that lead to their arrest, and the policies that prolong their involvement in the criminal justice system.

Supporting the NYC Department of Probation's Efforts to Address Disproportionate Minority Contact

With funding from the Prospect Hill Foundation, Vera’s Center on Youth Justice (CYJ) is supporting the New York City Department of Probation (DOP) in its efforts to address disproportionate minority contact (DMC) at the point of adjustment—the diversion of juvenile delinquency cases from formal case processing.

Sustaining Juvenile Detention Reform in NYC

With support from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, Vera’s Center on Youth Justice (CYJ) partnered with New York City’s Office of the Criminal Justice Coordinator and juvenile justice stakeholders to help the city sustain and monitor its juvenile detention reforms.

The Impact of Family Involvement: What Visitation Can Mean for Juvenile Justice Outcomes

Vera’s Family Justice Program is partnering with the Indiana Department of Correction, Division of Youth Services (DYS) to study the importance of family visitation for incarcerated youth and to provide the field with lessons about the challenges and benefits of implementing enhanced visitation policies that expand opportunities for family contact.

Unaccompanied Children Program

The Unaccompanied Children Program coordinates a national effort to increase pro bono legal representation for immigrant children in removal (deportation) proceedings without a parent or legal guardian. These children may be fleeing poverty, war, or other dangerous circumstances on their own, or they may have lost contact with an adult along the way. They are detained in federal custody in shelters or detention centers contracted by the Division of Children’s Services (DCS, formerly DUCS), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).

Understanding and Preventing Sexual Abuse of Children with Disabilities

In March of 2012, Vera’s Center on Victimization and Safety partnered with the Ms. Foundation for Women to ensure that existing efforts to address sexual abuse of children are inclusive of children with disabilities. They also sought to increase the number and breadth of efforts that are specifically addressing sexual abuse of children with disabilities.

Youth Futures: Workforce Development and Educational Support to System-Involved Youth

Vera’s Center on Youth Justice (CYJ) is coordinating Youth Futures, a multi-site program aimed at improving the long-term employment prospects of at-risk and justice-involved youth living in, or returning to high-crime, high-poverty communities in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New Orleans. With funding from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and through collaborative partnerships with the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, the Coalition for Responsible Community Development, and the Youth Empowerment Project, Youth Futures prepares program participants for success in the labor market by providing comprehensive, individualized case management services linked to workforce development and educational interventions, supports, and training programs.

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Several weeks ago, I attended the memorial service for Eddie Ellis, who was, among many things (including a son, a father, a mentor, and a leader), a formerly incarcerated man and the founder of the Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions. I...
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Several weeks ago, I attended the memorial service for Eddie Ellis, who was, among many things (including a son, a father, a mentor, and a leader), a formerly incarcerated man and the founder of the Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions. I...
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More than 700,000 people leave jail and prison each year needing permanent housing. Studies have shown that obtaining permanent housing means that formerly incarcerated individuals are more likely to gain employment, maintain sobriety, complete...
Angela Browne
Senior Fellow, Washington DC Office
Krista Larson
Interim Director, Center on Youth Justice
Christine Leonard
Director, Washington DC Office
Anne Marie Mulcahy
Director of the Unaccompanied Children Program, Center on Immigration and Justice
Danielle Sered
Director, Common Justice
Susan Shah
Program Director, Center on Immigration and Justice
Allon Yaroni
Research Director, Center on Sentencing and Corrections | Family Justice Program | Child Welfare, Health, and Justice
Dan Wilhelm
Vice President & Chief Program Officer
Ryan Shanahan
Research Director, Center on Youth Justice
Nicholas Turner
President and Director

About this Topic

Vera works to promote the well-being and safety of children and youth by making the government systems they are involved in more equitable and humane in policy and practice.