Here in America today, perhaps the clearest mirror of our performance, the truest measure of whether we live up to our ideals, is our youth.

Robert F. Kennedy


Our Story

The Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice, led by Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps, works to advance the national platform for juvenile justice system reform developed through the long history of support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Since 2004, the Foundation has supported reform in multiple states across all regions of the United States through the Models for Change: Systems Reform in Juvenile Justice Initiative. Models for Change has sought to translate research into fair, effective, and developmentally informed juvenile justice practice and policies. The Foundation’s approach to juvenile justice reform is grounded in the core principles of fundamental fairness, developmental differences between youth and adults, individual strengths and needs, youth potential, responsibility, and safety. By supporting state and local reformers in a variety of settings, working on a variety of issue areas, and taking a variety of approaches, Models for Change helped to generate a broad and flexible range of replicable system reform models during the past decade.

In 2010, Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps became the home of a portfolio of MacArthur Foundation grants. Fiercely committed to Robert F. Kennedy’s legacy of unwavering responsibility to the poor and disadvantaged, RFK Children’s Action Corps advocates for children and embraces all social, cultural and ethnic backgrounds in order to build healthier families, more responsible citizens, and safer communities. With the MacArthur Foundation’s support, RFK Children’s Action Corps worked to advance models for reform through the use of proven frameworks, resource publications, guidebooks and toolkits in the areas of 1) system integration and practice reform on behalf of dual status youth, 2) probation and court system reviews to improve treatment, accountability and client outcomes for probated youth, and 3) information and data sharing practices.

In 2013, the MacArthur Foundation established the Resource Center Partnership to further the goal of protecting kids while making communities safer and improving the effectiveness, performance, and outcomes of the juvenile justice system. This partnership consists of four resource centers that provide much needed technical assistance, trainings, tools, and resources to help advance juvenile justice reform across the country. Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps is home to one of these newly established centers: The Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice.

The staff of the Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice has been at the forefront of developing and implementing models for reform since 2000, with a vast history of professional experience within child welfare and juvenile justice systems predating this work. Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps, with 40+ years of direct services to children in the child welfare and juvenile justice fields, national and regional relationships in the field, broad and deep experience in managing and developing relationships with local, regional and national funders, and focus on leadership, is the ideal home for the continuation of this important body of work.

Developed out of a history of innovative work, led by an organization founded on strong core principles, and utilizing an experienced staff of experts, The Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice is now uniquely poised to lead the effort to enhance the capacities of communities and jurisdictions nationwide to better serve all youth and families involved in the juvenile justice and related youth serving systems.

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