Models for Change

Models for Change

Models for Change: Systems Reform in Juvenile Justice


Launched in 2004, Models for Change is a multi-state initiative working to guide and accelerate advances to make juvenile justice systems more fair, effective, rational and developmentally appropriate. Capitalizing on a unique historic opportunity to regenerate juvenile justice in America, the initiative promotes a broader movement of reform based in research and evidence of what works to improve outcomes for kids and communities, while holding young people accountable for their behavior.

Models for Change supports a network of government and court officials, legal advocates, educators, community leaders, and families working together to ensure that kids who make mistakes are held accountable and treated fairly throughout the juvenile justice process.  Through, the initiative provides research-based tools and techniques to make juvenile justice more fair, effective, rational and developmentally appropriate.


Ten years into the initiative, more than $100 million has been invested in support of policy and practice reform activities. The initiative has an extensive network of committed partners and a long list of success stories, from local practice improvements to major reforms in state policy, funding and organization. The lessons, research, models and tools generated through the initiative are available on to support reform efforts across the nation.

The initiative has targeted key leverage states and issues where reforms trigger broader advancements.  Models for Change efforts have been advanced in 35 states and supported areas of reform related to: aftercare, community-based alternatives, dual status youth, evidence based practices, juvenile indigent defense, mental health, racial and ethnic fairness, and status offense reform.

Advancements in the reform areas have been promoted through efforts of the initiative’s: original four core states; action network collaborations to share knowledge and skills; resource center partnerships to provide technical assistance, and federal collaborations with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.