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Family Engagement and Juvenile Justice: The Evolution of Parens Patriae
Honorable Mark A. Ingram and Dr. John S. Ryals, Jr., Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice, 2020

Throughout the history of the juvenile justice system, consideration has been given to how parents and caretakers should—or should not—be involved in addressing the short- and long-term needs of children in the system. Family Engagement and Juvenile Justice: The Evolution of Parens Patriae takes a reflective look at systems’ engagement with families and the shifting perception of parent and caretaker involvement—which continues to recognize that parents and caretakers play an integral role in effectively serving youth and the community. This brief describes the continuum of “family voice” and “system voice” decision making approaches and the inherent impact on youth outcomes, including recidivism. The authors also highlight practices and approaches that improve interactions and effectively engage families, such as Motivational Interviewing and Family Group Decision Making case planning. The brief articulates the substantial need to not view family engagement as simply one “part” of a case plan, but rather integrate policies and practices that place families at the center of the service delivery spectrum.