Shifting probation culture and advancing juvenile probation reform through a community-based, participatory action research-informed training

Behav Sci Law. 2021 Feb;39(1):6-25. doi: 10.1002/bsl.2497. Epub 2021 Feb 8.


Many jurisdictions are currently transforming their juvenile probation systems to reflect research-informed, developmentally based case management approaches. Training, developed through a community-based, participatory action research (CBPAR) framework and guided by a community-academic partnership, may promote probation staff's readiness for such change. This paper examined whether such training could serve as an effective method to impact organizational culture by exploring shifts in probation staff's knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about graduated response - a structured juvenile probation case management system that aligns with research on adolescent development and youth behavior change. Data came from 559 juvenile probation staff trained in graduated response theory and practice between 2016 and 2019. Results demonstrated that at the end of a 1-day, CBPAR-grounded training program, participating staff reported significantly more buy-in to graduated response, greater knowledge of this new system, and attitudes more strongly in favor of graduated response and intended behaviors. Study findings revealed important shifts indicative of readiness for change within juvenile probation departments. Additional implementation strategies are needed to extend training gains and overcome organizational- and system-level barriers to change.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude
  • Case Management*
  • Health Services Research*
  • Humans
  • Juvenile Delinquency*