RD429 - Transformation Plan 2018 Update

Executive Summary:

In 2015, the Department of Juvenile Justice established the Transformation Plan to ensure that the Department was using its resources effectively and getting the best outcomes for the children, families, and communities it serves. The Transformation Plan has four core strategies:

1) Safely reduce the use of the state’s large and aging juvenile correctional facilities;

2) Effectively reform supervision, rehabilitation, and treatment practices for youth in custody both during their commitment and upon their return home;

3) Efficiently replace the Department’s two large, outdated JCCs with smaller, regional, rehabilitative and treatment-oriented facilities supported by a statewide continuum of local alternative placements and evidence-based services; and

4) Sustain the Transformation Plan by maintaining safe, healthy, inclusive workplaces; continuing to recruit, retain, and develop a team of highly skilled and motivated staff; and aligning procedures, policies, and resources to support the team in meeting the goals of transformation.

Since launching the plan more than three years ago, the Department, using research on best approaches to juvenile justice, evidence-based practices, and data-driven decision making, has dramatically strengthened and improved many aspects of its work, from intake and probation to the provision of rehabilitative and educational services in Juvenile Correctional Centers, to standing up many new evidence-based treatment programs across the Commonwealth. During the initial implementation phase of the Transformation Plan the Department experienced significant milestones and successes. These include:

• Safely reducing the population in the JCCs from an average daily population (ADP) of 466 in FY 2015 to 216 in FY 2018, through a combination of efforts including reducing the length of stay for indeterminately committed youth, improving probation practices, and creating alternative placements.

• Reaching all-time lows in the number of new delinquency cases being brought to juvenile court, average caseloads of youth on probation, average daily population of youth in detention and the number of times that youth were detained; and the number of detention eligible (felonies and class 1 misdemeanors) cases brought to court. From FY 2015 to FY 2018:

o The number of juvenile intake cases decreased 10.7%, the number of juvenile intake complaints decreased 11.7%, and the number of petitioned intake complaints decreased 18.7%;

o The number of new probation cases decreased 30.1%; the probation ADP decreased 38.9%;

o The number of detainments decreased 20.2%; the detention ADP decreased 20.2%; and

o The number of detention-eligible intake cases decreased 17.0%.

• Raising the SOL pass rates every year as well as the percentage of eligible seniors earning standard diplomas and other graduation credentials for youth attending school at Bon Air JCC.

• Bringing the provision of special education services into legal compliance. At the Department’s invitation, the Virginia Department of Education audited the provision of special education services. In the 2015-16 school year (SY) the audit found 52 compliance violations. By March 2017, the audit found only three.

• Dramatically reducing the use of isolation and staff restraints in the JCCs, while at the same time reducing the incidents of aggression by committed youth.

• Closing two JCCs as a result of safely reducing the population – the Reception and Diagnostic Center and Beaumont JCC – and reinvested the savings from these closures into a statewide network and continuum of services, supports, and placements for youth in the juvenile justice system.

• Reducing the vacancy rates across the agency from 23.9% in FY 16 to 11.2% (2.3% less than the state average) in FY 2018.

• Between FY 2015 and FY 2017, the 12-month rearrest rate for probation placements and direct care increased slightly. However, due to continued declines in the numbers of youth in the juvenile justice system, the actual count of youth rearrested from both probation and direct care decreased significantly (22.5% and 24.6% decreases in the number of youth rearrested since FY 2015, respectively).

By approaching the work using research and data to guide decisions, the Department has continued to safely reduce the number of youth involved in the juvenile justice system and to work more effectively with those who remain. It is also worth noting that during this period of transformation, the Department has been able to rely upon repurposing reinvestment funds to sustain operations and has not sought operating increases for its budget.

Consistent with the preceding years, FY 2018, which is the focus of this report, was a time of significant new developments and milestones for the Department’s transformation. Some highlights include the following:


• The JCC ADP declined from 245 in FY 2017 to 216 in FY 2018.

• The Department began piloting the Standardized Dispositional Matrix (SDM) – a structured decision making tool to guide dispositional recommendations – in five different jurisdictions.

• By the end of FY 2018, over 100 committed youth were in a non-JCC alternative placements.


• JCCs experienced greater safety with significant declines in the rates of acts of aggression and violence, use of force by staff, disciplinary reports with sanctions of isolation, and worker’s compensation claims.

• The Department fully implemented Tier 1 of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) across the education setting.

• Pass rates on Standards of Learning (SOL) tests, and the percentage of eligible residents who receive high school diplomas increased during in the 2017-2018 SY.

• In FY 2018, 5,964 family visits occurred at the JCCs and alternative placements, a 90.1% increase from FY 2017.


• With the savings from facility closures, the Department continued to expand the service network through contracts with Regional Service Coordinators (RSCs), and to build out the statewide continuum of community-based services and alternative placements.

• Through the work with the RSCs, more than 160 direct service providers are now in the network, there have been more than 6,000 referrals for services. The availability of evidence-based services aimed at helping high-risk youth safely and successfully remain in their communities - Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST) and Functional Family Therapy (FFT,) - increased. Thirteen service teams can now reach 112 of 133 (or 84%) of cities and counties in the Commonwealth. The Department is poised to begin design and construction of the new, smaller JCC in Isle of Wight to serve the Tidewater area.


• The Community Programs Training Team with input from Court Service Unit (CSU) staff across the Department, created and designed a new five-week basic skills program for caseworkers. This five-week program provides a consistent training foundation throughout the state, with specialized training for each regional need to follow. To date, 25 new staff have graduated Basic Skills for Caseworkers, with another 14 graduating by the end of October 2018.

• The average percentage of positions vacant across the Department continues to decline. In FY 2016, the rate was 23.9% and in FY 2018, it was 11.2% (2.3% less than the state average). As of August 2018, the rate is even further reduced to 8.8%.

• Workers Compensation Claims fell from 164 in FY 2017 to 143 in FY 2018, a 12.8% decrease. Workers Compensation Claims fell from $985,136 in FY 2017 to $704,420 in FY 2018, a 28.5% reduction.

While the following report reflects the many changes the Department has implemented and milestones it has reached, it is important to remember that the work of the Transformation Plan is not complete. The Department’s long-term expectation of a decrease in recidivism rates has not yet been achieved, and additional time is necessary for its changes to become permanent fixtures of Virginia’s juvenile justice system. Continued support from all branches of government for the Department’s ongoing work will continue to result in better returns on taxpayer investment through improved public safety and more robust rehabilitative opportunities for youth involved in the juvenile justice system.