The National Center for Juvenile Justice (NCJJ) developed a project to track substance abuse assessment, treatment and aftercare services within the juvenile justice system. NCJJ is the research arm of the National Council of Family and Juvenile Court Judges (in Reno, Nev.), which seeks to serve children by improving juvenile and family courts.
To develop a baseline survey instrument that would provide this information about juvenile courts and probation agencies, NCJJ organized an expert panel meeting entitled "Force Field Analysis Workshop." Seventeen representatives of juvenile probation, drug courts, and alcohol and drug treatment programs attended the meeting held in Pittsburgh, Pa., April 17–18, 2001.
Participants identified critical issues related to developing effective linkages between the juvenile courts and alcohol and drug treatment networks, including forces that drive the linkages—such as judicial leadership and public safety—and those that restrain them—such as a lack of funding and competence in substance abuse issues. Based on the panel's findings, NCJJ designed a 41-question survey with 123 items in categories that included:
- substance abuse screening and assessment practices
- availability and accessibility of substance abuse treatment services
- factors that influence probation department decisions to refer youth to treatment
- probation department characteristics.
NCJJ mailed the survey to chief juvenile probation officers, or their equivalent, representing 329 counties; this included all counties with a population of one million or more, a random sampling of smaller counties and an oversampling of those with populations from 250,000 to 999,999 people. The response rate was 70 percent (or 231 people).