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Back on Track: Transforming Virginia’s Child Welfare System

| The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Despite the best of intentions, deeply committed staff, and significant resources, public child welfare agencies are continually challenged in their efforts to help children and families. For reform-minded administrators across the nation, the question is, how did things go so wrong? The answer, in part, may lie with the multiple masters these systems must serve: The elected, appointed, and judicial officials that shape them; the taxpayers that fund them; the staff members, providers, and community
representatives that influence them; and the clients themselves. Faced with the daunting task of improving complex public systems, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has found one approach that can unite these often competing interests: A focus on results.

California Cities Gang Prevention Network Bulletin (Bulletin 20)

| Dr. Angela Wolf, Livier Gutierrez, Jack Calhoun

NCCD and the National League of Cities' Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Institute) present the bulletin for the California Cities Gang Prevention Network. This initiative creates a network of major California cities to combat gang violence and victimization.

Developing an Actuarial Risk Assessment to Inform the Decisions Made by Adult Protective Service Workers

| Dennis Wagner, PhD, Kristen Johnson, PhD, Andrea Bogie, MSW, Kathy Park

In 2008, the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services (BEAS) and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD), with funding provided by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), collaborated to construct an actuarial risk assessment to classify BEAS clients by their likelihood of elder maltreatment and/or self-neglect in the future. Studies in adult and juvenile corrections and child welfare have demonstrated that active service intervention with high risk clients can reduce criminal recidivism and the recurrence of child maltreatment (Wagner, Hull, & Luttrell, 1995; Eisenberg & Markley, 1987; Baird, Heinz, & Bemus, 1981). The purpose of this research was to examine a large set of individual and referral characteristics, determine their relationship to subsequent elder self-neglect and/or maltreatment, and develop an actuarial risk assessment for BEAS workers to complete at the end of an investigation to inform their case decisions. BEAS and NCCD pursued development of an actuarial risk assessment with the goal of reducing subsequent maltreatment of elderly and vulnerable adults who have been involved in an incident of self-neglect or maltreatment by another person (i.e., abuse, exploitation, or neglect). The actuarial risk assessment described in this report provides BEAS workers with a method to more accurately identify high risk clients and therefore more effectively target service interventions in an effort to protect their most vulnerable clients.

2010 Fall Webinar - Animal Hoarding: Comorbidity of Animal and Self Neglect

| Moderated by Kathy Park

Jane N. Nathanson, Social Work and Rehabilitation Consultant, and Specialist in Human-Animal Health & Welfare, discusses her work in the area of animal hoarding. This presentation is based on her recent publication in the Journal of Elder Abuse & Neglect, 2009 Oct;21(4):307-24. Article abstract: Substantial research and literature indicate how people and companion animals form relationships that are, for the most part, mutually beneficial. Yet there are highly dysfunctional human-animal relationships that do occur, meriting attention and remediation. One of the most perplexing and problematic human-animal relationships is encountered in cases of animal hoarding--a deviant behavior associated with extremely deleterious conditions of comorbid animal and self-neglect. Adult Protective Services workers often encounter theoretical and methodological dilemmas with these complex cases. To intervene most effectively, it becomes critical to elucidate some of the developmental factors of animal hoarding behavior and its correlation with self-neglecting behaviors in general. This article presents an in-depth diagnostic perspective as derived from the author's research and clinical experience. An analysis of the complex dynamics of the relationship between animal hoarders and their pets is presented in conjunction with accepted theories of self-neglect. With enhanced knowledge and understanding of animal hoarding, human service professionals will be better prepared to respond to these clients, evoke greater rapport and cooperation, and engage in the interdisciplinary efforts that are essential for optimal resolution. (Materials: slide presentation, presentation outline)

A New Era in California Juvenile Justice

| Barry Krisberg, Linh Vuong, Christopher Hartney, Susan Marchionna

Behind the media and political attention focused on California prisons, which are plagued with severe levels of crowding, and a federal court order to reduce the inmate population by over 40,000, lies one of California's best-kept secrets: the state's youth correctional custodial population has declined over 80% in just over the past decade. Just since 2004 the California Youth Authority (CYA) population declined by over 5,000 inmates. The state has already closed five major juvenile facilities and four forestry camps for juvenile offenders. A number of factors have contributed significantly to the drop in the population of the CYA. The most frequently cited is the very negative media publicity in the early 2000s about the conditions inside facilities, the case of Farrell v. Harper in 2003, and realignment legislation passed in 2007 that required that more youthful offenders be managed at the county level. However, the CYA population began declining as early as 1997. The trend towards increased costs for counties to send youth to the CYA, and doubt that the CYA was an appropriate setting for many of the youth being sent there, had already begun in the late 1990s. While no single factor accounts for the drastic change in the CYA population, the research presented here points to multiple forces that came together in the mid- to late-1990s and early 2000s to change public perception, judicial behaviors, probation programs, sentencing policies, and state funding streams. We also find that this population reduction is particularly notable because it did not result in an increase in juvenile crime, as some had erroneously predicted. 

Ready for the Future: Connecting Youth with Community Resources in Oakland

| National Council on Crime and Delinquency

This resource guide is part of a larger effort to develop a new youth center in the Chinatown area of Oakland. The planning for a youth center (a process known as the Chinatown Youth Center Initiative, or CYCI) has been underway since 2007, with involvement from over 20 community based organizations, public agencies, and local elected officials, as well as a youth advisory council. The CYCI is convened by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency. This guide focuses on organizations that provide youth services in one or more of the three categories listed above and that have an Oakland location. The guide's geographic focus is on organizations and programs that operate in the greater downtown, Chinatown, or San Antonio neighborhoods of Oakland, although this publication is not intended to be a comprehensive listing of all youth-serving organizations in these areas. 

California Cities Gang Prevention Network Bulletin (Bulletin 19)

| Dr. Angela Wolf, Linh Vuong, Jack Calhoun

NCCD and the National League of Cities' Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Institute) present the bulletin for the California Cities Gang Prevention Network. This initiative creates a network of major California cities to combat gang violence and victimization.

Youth in Gangs: Who Is at Risk?

| Caroline Glesmann, Barry Krisberg, Susan Marchionna

Youth gangs pose a significant challenge for communities across the United States, in urban, suburban, and rural areas alike. Nationwide, 23% of students report the presence of gangs at their schools (Dinkes, Kemp, & Baum, 2009), and approximately 35% of law enforcement agencies indicate gang problems (such as gang-related crime) in their jurisdictions (Egley & O'Donnell, 2009).(see footnote 1) Self-reported youth surveys show varying estimates of gang membership, from single digits among a national sample of students to about 30% among high-risk youth in large cities (Howell & Egley, 2009).For this Focus, NCCD analyzed data from national, state, and local youth surveys and drew on the results of previous gang research to provide a snapshot of youth gangs. This includes a summary of risk factors for gang membership and selected characteristics of gang-involved youth. California, which has faced significant and disproportionate levels of gang membership for decades, serves as a state case study. The local data highlight the San Francisco Bay Area cities of Oakland and Richmond; both Oakland and Richmond have entrenched gang problems and very high homicide rates.(see footnote 2) 

SDM News

| Children's Research Center

Structured Decision Making News, Applying the Structured Decision Making® Model in New Ways 

Critique of Maryland's Population Forecast: No Call for a New Youth Detention Facility

| Christopher Hartney, Susan Marchionna

NCCD, one of the nation's oldest and most respected criminal justice research organizations, has reviewed the bed space needs forecast reported in Maryland's Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPS) Project Program for New Youth Detention Center (Revised December, 2007) and found serious methodological fl aws that put into question the accuracy of its projections. A forecast based on a sound method would almost certainly produce substantially different estimates of future bed space needs for youth transferred to the adult system in Baltimore. DPS projected that a new youth detention center would require at least 180 cells for youth who are awaiting trial in the adult criminal justice system. The new facility design creates a capacity of 230 youth. After a brief summary of findings, this NCCD report describes shortcomings of the DPS forecast in the light of best practices in the field. Summary of Findings

Non-current data.
The forecast was made in 2007 and therefore does not account for changes in the past three years. The DPS forecast assumes rises in key factors which actually have been dropping in recent years, such as Baltimore's youth population and youth arrests.

Inappropriate aggregate analysis.
The DPS forecast attempts to estimate bed space needs in two facilities -- one for youth, one for women -- using a single forecast. Youth and women differ in many ways relevant to the system and therefore should be analyzed separately.

Incorrect population data.
The DPS projection uses aggregate population data, including youth of all ages and adults. Instead, the forecast should be based only on the segment of the Baltimore population eligible for the proposed youth facility.

Incorrect arrest data.
The DPS forecast uses a single level of analysis based on arrests for all ages, including adults. The forecast should be based on system data only for the types of offenders the facility will serve.

Apparent lack of an independent researcher.
The DPS report does not indicate who conducted the forecast; no outside consultant is mentioned. Research and analysis by independent researchers provides the best assurance possible that no unintentional bias impacts the process.

No consideration of alternatives.
The DPS forecast does not consider changes in policy and practice that would most likely reduce commitments and length of stay such as: risk assessment and standardized decision making in detention decisions; court processing reforms; diversion for substance abusers and mentally ill youth; and increased use of alternatives such as community supervision, house arrest, and electronic/GPS monitoring.

NCCD concludes that the DPS forecast cannot be relied upon to accurately estimate future facility needs in Baltimore. Perhaps the strongest indication that the 2007 DPS forecast is unreliable is that recent population trends in the current facility -- that is, the number of youth being held at the Baltimore City Detention Center -- show a strong decline. While DPS projected a need for 178 beds by 2010, as of May of this year there were just 92 youth held in the current facility, just over 50% of the DPS forecast.1 We strongly recommend that DPS conduct a new forecast using current, youth-specific data, and more reliable methodology.

2010 Summer Webinar - Conducting a Person-centered Assessment of Decisional Capacity in a Context of Abuse: Guidelines and Considerations (Part I)

| Moderated by Kathy Park

Deborah O'Connor, Ph.D., RSW, a professor in the School of Social Work at the University of British Columbia, and the (founding) Director of the Centre for Research on Personhood in Dementia, talks with us about her work upon which the theories presented in the recent article entitled "Assessing Capacity Within a Context of Abuse or Neglect" were based. This article is available in the Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect, volume 21, issue 2. This article examines the unique aspects associated with assessing and determining capacity for older adults who are living in a situation of abuse or neglect. Specifically, examining how living in a situation of abuse or neglect may influence the determination of capacity and exploring the implications of conducting an assessment within a potentially abusive context. (Materials: slide presentation)

Youth on Youth Sexual Contact

| NCCD Center for Girls and Young Women

This position statement examines a recent change in Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice which requires the reporting of sexual contact between detained juveniles. The Center supports practices that keep girls safe and free from victimization, but the law raises important issues unaddressed by legislators. For example, the Center suggests that the law is vague and undefined; it is not developmentally responsive and may overcharge LGBTQ youth as sex offenders.