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Community Assessment Centers: A Discussion of the Concept's Efficacy

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 1995
19 pages
This paper discusses the potential benefits of community assessment centers, examines how the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) currently addresses issues of importance in intervening with at-risk and delinquent youth, and discusses how OJJDP may address the concept of community assessment center in fiscal year 1996.
Through a series of OJJDP staff retreats and contacts with juvenile justice practitioners in the field, the use of community assessment centers was identified as a promising approach. In July 1995, OJJDP convened an initial focus group comprised of various persons in the juvenile justice field. The purpose of this discussion was to explore the benefits and possible disadvantages of community assessment centers. The focus group considered assessment centers to be a viable option, although its members emphasized caution in relation to such issues as labeling, breach of confidentiality, "net widening," lack of interagency coordination, and sensitivity to due process. On the basis of the focus group's discussions and years of research reflected in OJJDP's "Comprehensive Strategy," any option to be considered must have certain characteristics. These are a single point of entry, immediate and comprehensive assessments, a management information system to monitor a youth's progress through multiple treatment programs, integrated case management, and input to the policymaking process. The focus group discussion centered around recent developments in Florida, where various versions of the assessment center concept are in operation or development in various counties. Generally, the Florida assessment center concept uses a centralized intake system for youths who have had negative contact with police, and in some instances for truant youths. This paper reviews Florida's use of the assessment center concept. Based on this review, several areas are recommended for further exploration and discussion. OJJDP's plans to further explore the use of community assessment centers and related projects are outlined for fiscal year 1996. 12 references

Date Published: November 1, 1995