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Changing the Status Quo for Status Offenders: New York State’s Efforts to Help Troubled Teens. Michael Lens, Vera Institute of Justice Annie Salsich, Vera Institute of Justice Mary Winter, Onondaga County Probation June 10, 2007. NYS Status Offenders Defined.

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Changing the Status Quo for Status Offenders: New York State’s Efforts to Help Troubled Teens

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Changing the Status Quo for Status Offenders: New York State’s Efforts to Help Troubled Teens

Michael Lens, Vera Institute of Justice

Annie Salsich, Vera Institute of Justice

Mary Winter, Onondaga County Probation

June 10, 2007

NYS Status Offenders Defined

Persons in Need of Supervision (PINS):

  • Truancy

  • Running away

  • Ungovernability

History of PINS Assistance Project: Vera State-wide PINS Report

Changing the PINS System in New York:

A Study of the Implications of Raising the Age Limit for Persons in Need of Supervision

By Jesse Souweine and Ajay Khashu

Vera Institute of Justice

September, 2001

Findings of Vera’s PINS Report

  • New York State expected to experience up to a 100% increase in new PINS intakes under current system;

  • Projected costs of $29 million for increased use of detention and placement.

New York State PINS Assistance

  • Prompted by:

    • New PINS Legislation

    • Vera State-wide PINS Report

  • OCFS contracted with Vera to help the state and its counties prepare for the influx of youth entering the system under the new law.

New York State PINS Assistance

New York State PINS Reforms

Two Central Trends:

  • Front end – Strategies to improve intake and diversion;

  • Back end – Development of community-based alternatives to detention and placement.

Front End Reforms: Intake and Diversion


  • Lack of immediate crisis response (delay in services)

  • High number of court referrals

    • Immediately

    • Upon termination of diversion services

  • High use of non-secure detention and placement











Front End Reforms: Orange County













Back End Reforms:Alternatives to Detention & Placement


  • Cost

  • Overcrowding

  • Poor outcomes

  • Focuson keeping youth and families together – at home and in the community

Back End Reforms:Albany County

Juvenile Release Under Supervision:

  • DSS funded

  • Daily contact with youth

  • Service referrals

  • PINS and JDs

  • Reduction in non-secure detention costs

New York City Reforms and Vera Research

New York City’s Family Assessment Program (FAP)

  • December 2002 in Manhattan, rolled out in other boroughs over 2 years

  • Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) point of entry

    • Used to be Department of Probation

  • Immediate response

    • Diversion from court

    • Families must exhaust all services to PINS petition court access

Vera’s Research on FAP

  • 2002: Study on the PINS system in New York City

    • Helps lead to development of FAP

  • 2005: Implementation study of the FAP program

  • 2005: PINS remand study

  • 2007: FAP tracking study

2005: PINS Remand Study

  • Goals:

    • Identify the PINS cases that resulted in remands

    • Identify the demographic and systemic factors associated with being remanded as a PINS case

  • Pathways of a PINS case:

    • Intake to FAP office

      • Subset go on to Probation department

        • Subset go on to Court

          • Subset are remanded by Court

Total Remands per Year

Remands per Day Pre- and Post-FAP

Monthly Indicators Pre- and Post-FAP

  • First six months of 2002 (last pre-FAP period):

    • Probation Intakes = 587/month

    • Court Referrals = 187/month

    • Remands = 56/month

  • First six months of 2005 (first post-FAP period):

    • Probation Intakes = 112/month (81% decline)

    • Court referrals = 93/month (50% decline)

    • Remands = 41/month (27% decline)

  • Probation intake, court referral and remand decreases statistically significant

Post-FAP Remands by Race

According to the 2000 Census, New York City’s population under 18 was 31% White, 29% Black, and 28% Hispanic.

Pre- and Post-FAP Remands by Gender

Pre- and Post-FAP Remands by Runaway Allegation

Additional Research

  • 2007: FAP Tracking Study: Tracked 100 families and followed up at 3 months after FAP intake

    • Findings: Improvement on mental health indicators and family functioning

  • 2007: PINS/JD study

    • Quantitative inquiry to the pathways and characteristics of court-involved PINS and JDs; and overlap of the PINS and JD populations

    • Qualitative inquiry on services provided and organizational structure of ACS interventions for court-involved PINS and JDs

  • Randomized control trial of Adolescent Portable Therapy’s (APT) work with PINS

    • APT - Vera demonstration project providing mental health and substance use treatment to JDs and now PINS

Onondaga County Reforms

Onondaga County Reforms:Overview and History


  • Fiscal problems

  • Research


  • Interagency collaborative


  • Aim to reduce costs and provide better outcomes for PINS youth


  • Keep kids in their communities

Onondaga County Reforms Placement Outcomes

Onondaga County Reforms:Components

  • Social Service placement staff moved to Probation

  • Creation of Placement Review Board

  • Cost Re-Allocation

  • New major Alternative to Placement Program (PRISM)

Onondaga County Reforms:PRISM

Probation Rehabilitation Intensive Services Management (PRISM)

  • Partnership among Probation, Social Services, and the Salvation Army

  • Comprehensive treatment planning

  • Approximately 50% of PRISM cases staffed by FFT therapist

NYS Legislative Reforms:Family Court Act 2005

  • Mandated diversion services

  • Emphasized immediate crisis response

  • Changed detention eligibility criteria

Working Beyond New York State

  • Massachusetts

  • Louisiana

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