Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $1,046,560)
The University of New Haven Tow Youth Justice Institute will implement the “Restoring Connecticut youth in and out of the juvenile justice system.” project in collaboration with the University’s College of Engineering and with two sub-awardees. Restorative Practices (RP) have been gaining traction across the country as a best practice in alternative ways to addressing problematic youth behavior. They are being used as a diversionary tactic to increases youths’ abilities to avoid future conflict and as a more therapeutic response in the juvenile justice system that could address the root causes that led them there.
In Connecticut, there is currently no central place to understand who is doing training, how it’s being utilized, which audiences are being trained and under what model. The University of New Haven will develop an online, interactive database that maps resources in a user-friendly space and accessible by phone or computer for youth, families, and community providers to access information on needed services available in their area, as an alternative to punitive discipline approaches, up to and including prosecution.
Connecticut has a well-established system for diversion through a network of Youth Service Bureaus (YSB) and Juvenile Review Boards (JRB). The Connecticut Youth Services Association will conduct a landscape analysis to understand the individual YSBs current functioning and capacity to assess the effectiveness of YSBs and JRBs, the strengths and capacities to be leveraged, needed areas of improvement and resources required to achieve Connecticut's juvenile diversion goals. This will inform system design and help to determine specific steps to support the development of YSBs and JRBs.
For youth who find themselves in the juvenile justice system, healthy relationships, constructive conflict resolution, positive discipline and a multi-tiered system of interventions can lead to a decrease in recidivism. The Center for Children’s Advocacy will train RP to staff in pre-trial detention programs, secure post-disposition juvenile justice facilities, step-down juvenile justice residential facilities, youth shelters, therapeutic residential programs and probation services.