The Juvenile Justice Oversight Committee met again in March on implementation of juvenile justice reform as a result of SB 200, which passed in 2014. Youth-serving agencies across Kentucky are taking a number of positive steps, and we can expect to see encouraging results in the coming months. The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), for example, continues to implement the Family Accountability, Intervention and Response (FAIR) teams. These teams function much like an enhanced case management team to assist families and youth by connecting them with community supports to prevent youth from ending up in the justice system. AOC is working diligently to make sure that by July of 2015 all FAIR teams are established in all judicial districts.

The Kentucky Department of Education unveiled a new informational webpage focused on SB 200. This webpage provides basic information about the juvenile justice system, including an overview of SB 200 changes. The Kentucky statutes page provides an overview of how current policies relate to the disciplinary actions on a student.  Another helpful link is the FAQ page that can help educators and parents understand the who, what, and how questions that pertain to SB 200 in easily-understood language.

The Crime and Justice Institute, which has been collaborating with all the agencies, presented their work on tracking progress and outcomes for SB 200. The overarching goal of SB 200 is to keep youth out of detention centers, because placing a child in jail for a minor offense can influence the likelihood of his re-arrest. The data they collect will reveal what additional resources are needed in the communities to help keep youth out of the justice system. Example measures include the number of youth incarcerated or in out of home placements, as well as the length of stay in detention.

With the continuing work and collaboration by the agencies involved in the Juvenile Justice Oversight Committee, more of Kentucky’s youth will be able to receive need-based, necessary services in their communities instead of being sent into the justice system. Youth will also be less-likely to re-offend and more prepared as productive members of their community as adults.