DYRS is committed to helping court-involved youth develop the skills and relationships they need to succeed. Using interviews, surveys, and focus groups, Vera’s Family Justice Program is exploring how DYRS currently engages family by drawing on the perspectives of the staff, youth, and families who are a part of the system. The Family Justice Program will issue a report summarizing the study findings and recommending steps to improve family engagement. 

The Vera study will draw on the principles of participatory action research, which involves the people most affected by the research as partners in the process. Specifically, the perspectives of system-involved youth and their family members’ will help establish the purpose, priorities, and direction of the analysis.

Why focus on family engagement in the juvenile justice system?

Research indicates that youth with strong family ties—under a broad definition of family including close friends, mentors, and coaches—are more likely to succeed upon release. Understanding the ways juvenile justice agencies can improve their work by making meaningful connections between youth and their families, as well as encourage family participation in each stage of a young person’s passage through the juvenile justice system, is critical to reform efforts.

For more information, contact Ryan Shanahan.

Photo Credit: Juvenile-in-justice.com