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Engage, Involve, Empower: Family Engagement in Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2017
28 pages
This technical-assistance brief presents the first comprehensive set of recommendations for successful engagement of families in the juvenile drug treatment court process, based on the results of a nationwide survey of professionals with youth-serving drug treatment courts, mental health courts, and hybrid courts.
Findings from evaluations of juvenile drug treatment courts indicate that the juveniles whose families are engaged in their child's drug treatment programs and court proceedings are more likely to have successful outcomes. For the purposes of this brief, families are broadly defined as immediate or extended family and others close to the youth. Family involvement in juvenile drug court proceedings includes incorporating family-based treatments, parenting classes, and support groups. Research suggests that family engagement should be implemented across the continuum of services and at all levels of the juvenile drug treatment court process. The survey that is the focus of this brief measured respondents attitudes, perceptions, and awareness of various aspects of family engagement in juvenile drug treatment court programs and current engagement practices and barriers to effective family engagement. Most respondents (92 percent) believe that it is important to involve families in their child's drug treatment court and that the youth will have better outcomes if the family is engaged (93 percent). This brief offers the following recommendations: 1) commit to family engagement and involvement; 2) start early and engage continuously; 3) foster cultural humility and linguistic competency; 4) offer individualized and accessible services; 5) develop youth and family leadership; and 6) get family and youth feedback. Suggested steps for implementing each of these recommendations are provided. A family-engagement-practices self-assessment tool is provided , along with case examples of the family engagement practices of some juvenile drug treatment courts. 25 references

Date Published: February 1, 2017