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The New York State juvenile justice system has made measurable and significant improvements in community safety, coordination, data-driven decision-making, and outcomes for youth ages 7 to 15. Learn how the collective impact approach was used to transform the system in just a few short years.

Top Takeaways

  1. Collective impact was used to successfully transform New York State’s juvenile justice system, a highly complex network of public and private agencies, nonprofit organizations, and courts with a history of ineffectiveness (e.g., annual placement costs were among the highest in the nation, 60% of youth were rearrested within two years of release).
  2. The system was transformed through the establishment of a backbone infrastructure, a common agenda, shared measured systems, mutually reinforcing activities, and continuous communication.
  3. System transformation with the collective impact approach enabled measurable and significant improvements for youths and communities: juvenile arrests decreased by 24%, juvenile admissions to state placement decreased by 28%, and the number of youth in state custody declined by 45%. These significant drops in numbers of youth across the system have not led to any increase in crime or risk to public safety.
Stakeholders across sectors increasingly believed that success would require collective action to drive systemic reform in a rapidly changing, resource–constrained environment.