Assessing Needs

An assessment is a comprehensive appraisal of an individual’s functioning, used to make recommendations for treatment, placement or to measure treatment progress. OJJ uses many types of assessment tools. The most typical are psychological assessments and risk assessments.

For youth in the community, psychological screening and assessments are accessed primarily through the Louisiana’s Behavioral Health Managed Care system. While in secure care, screening and assessments are conducted by the contracted medical provider. Information collected through these assessments is used by OJJ staff to shape the youth’s service plan, and to make recommendations to the courts for programming.

In 2010, after almost two years of careful study in partnership with the MacArthur Foundation and other stakeholders, OJJ adopted the SAVRY (Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth) as the tool used to assess all youth placed in our custody or supervision. The SAVRY protocol targets empirically-based risk and needs factors that, if appropriately treated, may reduce a youth’s risk for offending in the future.  Individualized plans for the rehabilitation services for each OJJ youth, all of whom will eventually be returned to their home communities, emerge from the SAVRY assessment results.

Progress in standardizing assessment has resulted from efforts on the part of both agency leaders and national experts.  Statewide implementation of the SAVRY has been fully carried out, including electronic connectivity with the case management system, all professional training, and policy alignment.  OJJ collects and analyzes the data available to determine what changes are indicated for the continuum of care for our youth.

The anticipated result of the adoption and implementation of the SAVRY tool as our standard for risk assessment is movement of youth through available programming more effectively and efficiently. Rather than increasing the demand for secure care beds, for instance, some of the youth pending secure care may be re-assigned to more suitable placement, based upon their risk for violence and criminal behavior.


Coordinating Services

Service Coordination helps build stronger relationships and increased communication with stakeholders and other state agencies to enhance service delivery and create blended funding opportunities. Service Coordination addresses the needs of the youth in the least restrictive environment, with options allowing progressive movement throughout the system.

The Probation and Parole Officer  (PPO) is the central point of contact, working to create an integrated effort among field staff, facilities, providers, family, and youth.

PPOs provide a comprehensive, integrated approach to the care, management, and service delivery for OJJ youth. PPOs are responsible for the youth’s initial entry into the OJJ system (court hearings, adjudications, etc.) As a coordinator of services, they take an active role in each phase of the youth’s classification, placement, and programming.

The PPO coordinates effective services and supervises the youth to ensure seamless case management. The PPO ensures that the youth’s service plan is implemented, followed, and modified as necessary.

Service Coordination significantly impacts and improves case management. Seamless case management allows for better information gathering and coordination of services, which lead to improved data collection, improved relationships with youth and families and ultimately greater success with the youth.

Service Coordination promotes productive interactions with youth, families, and providers. For youth who are removed from the home, aftercare and reintegration planning begins immediately and is coordinated with facility and/or program staff.


Utilizing Programs that Work

Evidence-Based Research and Treatment Interventions

The Office of Juvenile Justice is committed to utilizing treatment interventions that have a demonstrated ability to help youth acknowledge accountability, learn pro-social attitudes and behaviors and avoid risky thinking and actions. Research indicates that evidence-based treatment is the most efficient and effective means of protecting the public and reducing recidivism.  Below is a sample of evidence based interventions/practices employed by OJJ and its partners.

Motivational Interviewing (MI) is an evidence-based practice used by criminal justice professionals to enhance communication, build rapport and motivate offenders into changing their behavior. OJJ uses Motivational Interviewing as a part of its LAMOD process in secure care as a non-confrontational approach to guide offender awareness of potential problems and the consequences of their actions.

Thinking for a Change (T4C) is an integrated, 25 lesson cognitive behavioral change program for youth that includes cognitive restructuring, social skills development, and development of problem solving skills. T4C is utilized in all of OJJ’s secure care facilities as well as several residential community based programs.

Functional Family Therapy (FFT) is an empirically grounded, highly successful family intervention program for dysfunctional and at-risk youth and their families, including youth with problems such as conduct disorder, violent acting-out, and substance abuse issues.  OJJ contracts for FFT services with community providers who serve both adjudicated and non-adjudicated youth and their families. Treatment has specific phases that organize intervention in a coherent manner, allowing clinicians to maintain focus in the context of considerable family and individual disruption.

Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST) is an empirically grounded, intensive family and community based treatment program that focuses on addressing all environmental systems that impact chronic and violent juvenile offenders, including their homes and families, schools and teachers, neighborhoods and friends.  MST clinicians go to where the child is; they are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and they work intensively with parents and caregivers to put them in control and to help keep the youth focused on school and gaining job skills.  MST is a Medicaid eligible service available to at-risk and justice involved youth and their families.