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Program Improving Outcomes for Indiana's Troubled Children

PHOTO: A program that helps to improve outcomes for children in trouble while ensuring public safety is expanding in Indiana. Photo of Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David courtesy of courts.IN.gov.
PHOTO: A program that helps to improve outcomes for children in trouble while ensuring public safety is expanding in Indiana. Photo of Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David courtesy of courts.IN.gov.
November 25, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS - Sometimes children in trouble need secure detention, but other times there are alternatives.

In Indiana, The Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) is helping to ensure that children are placed in the right place for the right reasons and the right amount of time. Developed nationally by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the initiative was launched in 2006 in Marion County and has since expanded to seven other counties.

According to Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven David, the program is improving outcomes for children in the juvenile justice system while ensuring public safety.

"County after county is having experiences where fewer petitions alleging delinquency are actually being filed; it's resulted in more collaboration between law enforcement, defense, child advocates, to really change the juvenile justice system."

More than $5 million in state funding over two years will allow a number of new counties to become JDAI sites. David said the expansion will ensure more Indiana youth are provided with opportunities for community-based alternatives to secure detention when appropriate.

He noted that the JDAI model is community-based and allows local stakeholders to tailor it to their own community norms and priorities.

"It is an arduous, difficult process for the community to go through, because you have to maintain fidelity to the model, but what comes out on the other end is just unbelievable, and it opens up so many other doors, not only for relationships, but for system reforms," the Justice said.

He said the model has a proven track record of saving money in detention costs, reducing the likelihood for future detention, and helping kids to finish school.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IN