In an attempt to combat juvenile substance abuse at the community level, the Travis County Juvenile Probation Department (TCJPD) implemented a Juvenile Drug Court (JDC) in Travis County. With the implementation of the JDC, TCJPD attempted to maximize the limited treatment resources available in Travis County by increasing successful discharges from outpatient and day treatment substance abuse services, resulting in lower rates of recidivism, relapse, and improved quality of life for substance-abusing juveniles and their families. This specially designed drug court employed a treatment-oriented model, emphasizing three fundamental criteria:

  • Strength-based model: JDC staff are encouraged to find participants’ strengths and advance them.
  • A non-adversarial approach: the traditional roles of the courtroom players are modified, requiring flexibility in the more collaborative model.
  • Community-based treatment: juveniles can better learn to function in their community by receiving treatment within their community rather than within a sterile institution.

The results from this process evaluation were derived from a number of sources. Evaluators reviewed the JDC’s initial plan, funding applications, JDC Policy and Procedure Manual, Client Handbook, semi-annual reports, and meeting minutes. Evaluators participated in various JDC Planning Team meetings. Semi-structured interviews with key JDC team members provided a rich source of information.

Some of the key findings of this process evaluation included the following:

  • Cross-training of JDC team members is critical.
  • Gaining the support of key community stakeholders helps to ensure sustainability.
  • Effective clinical treatment plans are driven by thorough assessments.

U.S. Department of Justice
Juvenile Justice Probation Department, Travis County