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Rigorous Evaluation of the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice's Second Chance Act Reentry Reform

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)
Original Solicitation

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $985,433)

This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law. This program furthers the Department’s mission by supporting sound research and evaluation efforts that inform the development of and improvements to federally funded juvenile reentry programs designed to reduce reoffending.

Child Trends will conduct a rigorous impact and implementation evaluation of the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice’s (DJJ) reentry system improvement efforts. Supported through a Second Chance Act grant, DJJ began implementing reentry system improvements in late 2016, which include efforts to increase family engagement, use validated risk/needs assessments to link youth to services that address their criminogenic needs, and transform case management procedures to ensure continuity of care during youth’s transition from institutional control back into community settings. Through a rigorous evaluation of these reentry efforts and the translation of study findings into recommendations for improving juvenile reentry efforts, this project aims to enhance public safety and improve outcomes for young people reentering their communities. To achieve these goals, the researchers will complete three core objectives: (1) leverage DJJ’s robust statewide administrative data system to conduct a series of quasi-experimental designs, including propensity score matching and an interrupted time-series with a nonequivalent control group, to examine the impact of reform efforts on youth outcomes; (2) conduct an indepth implementation evaluation to provide other states with context for the study findings, as well as to identify challenges and solutions associated with implementing and sustaining federally funded reentry reforms; and (3) translate research findings for practitioners, policymakers, and researchers aiming to improve juvenile reentry procedures and outcomes. The research project will advance the field’s understanding of the effectiveness of statewide reentry programs, particularly with regard to the role of their components, such as service matching, comprehensive case management, and family engagement. Through an impact evaluation of a reentry model grounded in the Risk-Needs-Responsivity model, study findings will also contribute to criminological theory. The researchers will also examine the effectiveness of this model for different subgroups of youth (e.g., as distinguished by gender, race/ethnicity, age, presence of co-occurring disorders, and urbanicity). In an effort to bridge the research-to-practice gap, the researchers will produce tailored deliverables that are useful for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers interested in improving juvenile reentry programs, practices, and policies.


Date Created: September 28, 2018