Assessing youth strengths in a residential juvenile correctional program.

Residential Treatment for Children & Youth, 23(3/4).



Barton, W. H., Mackin, J. R., & Fields, J.

Assessments and case plans that identify and build upon the strengths of clients, their families and communities are increasingly being used in many fields of practice, but are only beginning to be introduced in juvenile justice settings. This article describes a strengths-based assessment tool developed specifically for use in juvenile justice programs and discusses its implementation in a secure juvenile correctional institution. Early results suggest that the adoption of this strengths-based assessment protocol was the catalyst for an improvement in institutional climate as perceived by both youth and staff. Complaints from youth and parents/guardians as well as behavioral incidents at the facility have also declined markedly. While further research is needed to assess the impact on youth outcomes, this study offers lessons for other juvenile correctional institutions regarding the potential benefits and challenges of adopting a more strengths-based approach.

Associated Staff

Juliette R. Mackin