Smaller is Better: The Missouri Approach
December 22, 2014
Missouri closed its juvenile justice youth development centers/training schools 30 years ago, resulting in consistently better outcomes than other states. The more solutions and treatment-based, positive approach includes:
- Replacing large institutions with smaller group homes, camps and treatment facilities;
- Maintaining safety through relationships and “eyes-on” supervision rather use of hardware secure buildings and isolation;
- Intensive youth development by dedicated specialists rather than correctional supervision by guards.
Youth in the juvenile justice system have higher levels of post-traumatic stress disorder, exposure to violence and other toxic stress reinforcing the need for a treatment orientation. A 2010 Annie E. Casey Foundation examination of the Missouri Approach reported no youth had died from suicide in more than 25 years since beginning a more therapeutic approach.
Work remains for Missouri and every state to narrow the pipeline of youth entering the system and to provide the targeted and evidence-based supports to help young people succeed in their families and communities.
More information on the Missouri Approach is available through The Missouri Approach, Division of Youth Services
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