What we already know from years of research is effective interventions and risk assessments for young people in the juvenile justice system must address risk factors across all aspects of the adolescent’s life. To succeed, they need to take into account what puts the youth at risk for current and future anti-social behaviors, whether it has to do with the individual, family, peer, school, or community. Not to be overlooked are such considerations as to whether there are warm, supportive relationships with caring adults and positive peer associations, which help steer juveniles away from behaviors that put them at risk for criminal activity; these are termed protective factors, or strengths.
Making a Difference
What seems to be less known is the effectiveness of interventions and assessments that target young people at the transitional stage from adolescence to early adulthood, a critical time that can prevent criminal activity from escalating. As we hear about adult incarceration rates increasing, the United States being the world’s leader, it is imperative that we put the right information into the hands of our policymakers so they know that evidence-based assessment developed and used to address juvenile delinquency can make a difference in the adult criminal systems.
Keeping justice-involved youth from becoming adult offenders should be a priority. Pushing policymakers toward assessments such as Orbis Partners’ risk/needs and strengths assessment, the Youth Assessment and Screening Instrument (YASI), is the first step.
The Benefits of the Youth Assessment and Screening Instrument (YASI)
YASI assesses risk, needs, and protective factors (strengths) in at-risk and justice-involved youth. The assessment is suitable for use in both secure residential and community settings and is used with adolescents from age 12 up to 25 years. It comes with powerful software, hosted on secure servers in the country your agency is located, to deliver both assessment and case planning functionality. The software includes narrative reports on the results and statistical reports for profiling the population.
Orbis emphasizes that assessment is only a first step in prevention. Without service planning, assessing risk, needs and strengths have less value on their own. The YASI assessment results drive the service plan. The key objective is to ensure the assessment helps produce good decision-making and the creation of individualized case plans to reduce problem behavior.
YASI demonstrates that strengths provide predictive information for re-offending. Midland County, MI, includes the Youth Assessment and Screening Instrument (YASI) in response to reducing, if not eliminating, delinquency as well as rehabilitating justice-involved youth. According to the Midland Daily News, “In 2019, of the 96 charges brought before the court, 21 offenses or 22% were reduced to either misdemeanors or status offenses and 13 charges were dismissed. Our experience is that this approach significantly increases the chances for rehabilitation and success in the youth’s adult life.”
Addressing the risk factors of youth is important to prevent problem behavior and future involvement in the justice system. For more information on YASI’s effectiveness, download our YASI brochure here.
Orbis Partners provides solutions for criminal justice and human services systems, specializing in designing and implementing services for at-risk client groups. Orbis’ risk/needs assessment tools for youth are designed to guide the casework process by incorporating an individual’s unique set of needs. For more information about assessment tools, visit our Youth Assessment page by clicking here.