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Meet Youth & Adolescent Justice's Toughest Challenges

We understand that the overriding responsibility of Youth & Adolescent Justice is to keep the community safe, while meeting various federal and state mandates.  In addition, you are likely serving more youth with a tighter budget.  The JIFF Interviewertm is an assessment and service plan tool that was designed for Youth & Adolescent Justice.  NO training or clinical professional staff are needed for the JIFF.  In addition, 94% of the kids say they prefer the computer interview to an in-person interview.  It is a cost-effect solution that will aid you in accomplishing the following objectives. 

Assess presence of mental health and substance use issues
The JIFF is an empirically-based rapid assessment process that begins with a self-administered computer interview completed by youth or parents/caregivers (there are two versions) and results in an individualized strengths and goal-based Service Plan.  The JIFF Interview assesses whether the youth has any mental health (depression, anxiety, trauma, self-harm, irrational thoughts) and/or substance use issues.  In addition, the JIFF inquires about the youth’s functioning in school, home, family life, peer relationships, community behaviors (delinquency), and health issues, allowing you to learn about the whole child and to identify key factors that may influence delinquent behavior.  After the interview, a 1-page Service Plan with a list of suggested goals for the youth is automatically generated by the software, based on the respondent’s answers. 

Address issues of Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC)
It is well-established that many states struggle to address the systematic overrepresentation of minority youth within the juvenile justice system.  In addition to the social implications of DMC, there are substantial financial penalties if this issue is not addressed.  The JIFF helps you address DMC by providing an objective, uniform assessment that collects information in a non-judgmental format.  This helps reduce subjectivity and bias in case decisions.  You can develop standardized protocols to match local services to the youth’s level and type of needs.

Divert status offenders & truants from formal court proceedings
Many incorrigible and truant youth could potentially avoid further penetration into the system if factors related to these gateway behaviors are addressed early, (e.g., family conflict, domestic violence, mental health concerns, parents lacking sufficient management and supervision skills for these challenging youth).  The JIFF provides an assessment of the whole child, and the resulting Service Plan allows you to facilitate referrals to address these behaviors and get kids back on the right track, before they escalate to a more serious offense.

Prevention and reduction of recidivism for delinquents
In an on-going post-arrest diversion program in Detroit, youth are assessed with the JIFF and assigned to local community-based, skill-building services (youth assistance programs) to address needs identified on the JIFF.  Upon satisfactory completion of the program, the youth’s charges are dismissed. Currently, one-third of all youth arrested are placed in this diversion program, which has resulted in substantial cost savings.  Program evaluation showed that the diverted youth had a low 1-year post diversion recidivism rate (less than 10%).  In addition, higher scores on the JIFF at intake predicted recidivism, making the JIFF a useful tool for identifying youth who are at greater risk for recidivism. 

When probation officers do their full assessment on adjudicated youth, the JIFF helps to quickly obtain critical information (from youth and caregiver) on the “dynamic factors” considered in a “Risk Assessment.” It provides a “starting point” for further inquiry, if needed.

Minimize length of stay in detention
Assessment at entry into Detention can provide information to the court when the youth is seen for the 24/72-hour hearing.  With the use of the JIFF, unnecessary length of stays in Detention can be reduced, with the additional benefit of cost savings. 

Promote Diversion at the earliest point of contact – even pre-arrest
Across the country there are innovative programs aimed at identifying at-risk youth and preventing their entry into the juvenile justice system.  As the JIFF takes no formal training to administer, it is the ideal front-line tool for these initiatives.  One program has police officers working with the community to bring at-risk youth to an assessment center for a JIFF.  The youth’s caregivers are immediately contacted, and typically formal arrest or court involvement can be avoided.


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