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KVC Helps Prevent Nebraska Youth from Entering Juvenile Detention

KVC nebraska youth justice reform teen mentor family child

For more than a year now, two KVC Nebraska leaders have been participating in a program of Georgetown University’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR). See related article: KVC Nebraska Leaders Named Center for Juvenile Justice Reform FellowsThrough their capstone project to CJJR’s Youth in Custody Certificate Program, Jodie Austin and Theresa Goley aimed to decrease the number of Nebraska youth entering detention and congregate care settings. They also aimed to maintain or decrease the youth recidivism rate.

The team’s strategy for accomplishing this was to implement KVC’s unique Safe & ConnectedTM model as well as a trauma screen and a full array of trauma-informed interventions. Safe & Connected provides a structured way to make decisions with and for the children and families served by the child welfare, juvenile justice and related systems. The model emphasizes organizing information in order to promote critical thinking and collaboration with the family and other stakeholders. This ensures a comprehensive, balanced assessment of risk with the outcomes of improved youth safety, wellbeing and permanency.

Theresa Goley

Theresa Goley

Jodie Austin

Jodie Austin

KVC Nebraska has implemented Safe & Connected internally to help families being supported in their homes and make decisions regarding youth entering foster care. It has also provided training and support to other agencies so they can benefit from the approach.

Austin and Goley explained their capstone project to the following partners;

NFC began implementing Safe & Connected in September 2014, and recommended that KVC share the model with the other agencies. Each entity is at a different phases of project approval.

KVC Nebraska has trained its entire staff in Trauma Systems Therapy (TST) and Parent Management Training, among other models, to ensure interventions are precise and least restrictive.

The Results

The results of this program have been positive. Agencies who received support or training on Safe & Connected experienced measurable improvements in the safety and stability of children in out-of-home care. Data from the Children and Families Services Measures shows:

  • Greater Child Safety in Foster Care – The absence of recurrent maltreatment improved steadily from 93% (Aug. 2014) to 95% (May 2015) with an average of 95.44%, which exceeds the 94.6% national standard.
  • Fewer Children Changing Foster Homes – Placement stability improved steadily from 102.25 (Aug. 2014) to 108.22 (July 2015) with an average score of 105.7, which exceeds the 101.5 national standard.
  • Fewer Children Reentering Foster Care – Reentries into care in less than 12 months of discharge remained low, from 6.1% (Aug. 2014) to 8.5% (July 2015) with an average score of 6.9%, which exceeds the 9.9% national standard.

In the juvenile justice community, KVC’s support for caring for youth in the least restrictive environment and integrating trauma-informed care helped the Douglas County Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative in the Omaha area achieve these results:

  • Reduce the average number of youth in detention by more than 10%.

This data suggests the implementation of Safe & Connected contributed to the positive outcomes achieved as the improvements correlate with the timing of implementation/partnership.


Feedback from the partners has been positive, including this: “District 4J probation is appreciative of the opportunity to use [KVC’s Safe & Connected model] to assist in identifying plans for very complicated juvenile probation youth. We like the strengths-based, objective format. This format aides in removing the emotion and opinions that sometimes surface. Emotion sometimes surfaces when probation officers are trying to develop a plan that will reduce system involvement. The discussion is focused on facts. Thus, we are able to take advantage of expertise in a way that moves the case forward more quickly. At the same time allowing us to discard ‘what we think’ or ‘what we feel’.”

KVC Nebraska is grateful for the opportunity to go beyond its daily work of supporting youth and families with foster family care and intensive, in-home services to partner with agencies statewide in reforming juvenile justice.

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