How the Model Works

The Reclaiming Futures model maps the path youth take through the juvenile justice system - and the services they need along the way - and breaks it all down into six steps. Process and outcome measures are attached to each step, to help communities gauge their progress.

Click on the step of our interactive model below to find a complete description of each one, lessons learned, and yardsticks for success. To see the entire model, simply download it here. Get the model »


All youth with substance abuse problems in the juvenile justice system – charged with a drug offense or not – could be affected by Reclaiming Futures. However, because juvenile delinquency matters are handled differently in each community, specific eligibility criteria are determined by each local Reclaiming Futures project.

Coordinated Individualized ResponseCommunity Directed Engagement



  • If no substance abuse is indicated, resume traditional juvenile justice process.
    • If possible substance abuse is indicated, refer for Initial Assessment.
    • As soon as possible after being referred to the juvenile justice system, youth should be screened for possible substance abuse problems using a reputable screening tool.


  • If no substance abuse is indicated, resume traditional juvenile justice process.
    • If substance abuse is indicated, refer for Service Coordination.
    • Youth with possible substance abuse problems should be assessed using a reputable tool to measure their use of alcohol and other drugs (AOD), individual and family risks, needs, and strengths. The primary purpose of an initial assessment is to measure the severity of AOD problems. A second purpose is to shape an informed service plan.
  • Process Measures
  • Of all youth identified with AOD problems at screening, how many get full assessments?
  • Outcome Measures
  • Of all youth identified with AOD problems at screening who do NOT get full assessments, how many are successful for at least one year?*
  • * Success may be defined in various ways, including the absence of new arrests or new court referrals, no new drug use, reduced drug use, no subsequent referrals for drug or alcohol treatment, or some combination of these measures.
  • Intervention plans should be designed and coordinated by community teams that are family driven, span agency boundaries, and draw upon community-based resources. Intervention should include whatever mix of services is appropriate for each youth, perhaps including AOD treatment, educational and preventive services, involvement in pro-social activities, and the assistance of "natural helpers" known to the youth and his or her family.
  • Process Measures
  • Of all youth identified with AOD problems at assessment, how many agree to complete an appropriate service plan?
  • Service initiation is a critical moment in intervention. Consistent with the treatment standards of the Washington Circle Group (www.washingtoncircle.org), initiation is defined as at least one service contact within 14 days of a full assessment. Initiation can be measured for the entire intervention plan or for each component of the plan. Service initiation should be monitored whether or not the intervention plan includes formal AOD treatment.
  • Process Measures
  • Of all youth identified who agree to complete an appropriate service plan, how many initiate services as designed?
  • Outcome Measures
  • Of all youth agree to complete an appropriate service plan but FAIL to initiate services as designed, how many are successful for at least one year?
  • Youth and families must be effectively engaged in services. Engagement is defined as three successful service contacts within 30 days of a youth's full assessment. Engagement can be measured for each service component or for all elements of the service plan taken as a whole. Engagement should be monitored whether or not the intervention plan includes formal AOD treatment.
  • Process Measures
  • Of all youth who initiate a service plan, how many become fully engaged in services?
  • Outcome Measures
  • Of all youth who initiate a service plan but FAIL to become fully engaged, how many are successful for at least one year?
  • Transition describes the completion of the service plan and gradual withdrawal of agency-based services. Youth and families must be connected with long-term supports (community resources and "natural helping" relationships) and opportunities in the community based on their unique strengths and interests.
  • Process Measures
  • Of all youth engaged in services, how many completed the required services or demonstrate ongoing engagement in individualized transition supports, how many are successful for at least one year?
  • Outcome Measures
  • Of all youth engaged in services who FAIL to complete the required services or demonstrate ongoing engagement in individualized transition supports, how many are successful for at least one year?
  • Of all youth who complete the required services or demonstrate ongoing engagement in individualized transition supports, how many are successful for at least one year?

A Team Approach »

Reclaiming Futures is not a program. Instead, it seeks to change systems so that teens get the help they need and communities are safer. To do that, judges, probation officers, substance abuse treatment professionals, and community members have to work together to help teens in the justice system. Developing local leadership is a cornerstone of our work. Learn about Leadership »

Monitoring Youth Progress »

Local sites use our six-step model to ensure that teens get the treatment and services they need. They can use its built-in process and outcome measures to track individual progress and identify service gaps. Monitor youth progress »

Bring Reclaiming Futures to You »
Help teens struggling with drugs, alcohol, and crime. Learn more about how to bring Reclaiming Futures to your state or region.