The Development and Evolution of Reclaiming Futures at the Ten-Year Mark

Reclaiming Futures, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, began 10 years ago as a demonstration program of 10 sites and now has grown to 29 sites with expanded funding partners. This article describes the conceptual and structural foundations of the Reclaiming Futures model to improve the infrastructure to treat young people in trouble with drugs and the law.

Early in the initiative, program leadership established benchmarks to provide a conceptual map and guide progress toward achieving “levers of change,” including:

  • Improving the quality and quantity of clinical and rehabilitative services.
  • Increasing recovery supports and the availability of positive youth development services.
  • Integrating positive adults (natural helpers) into the lives of young people.
  • Ensuring sustained leadership within the network.
  • Increasing collaboration and coordination of services.
  • Changing community attitudes.
  • Increasing the use of alternative sentencing options.

The Reclaiming Futures national program office has developed a curriculum on the model and strengthened its coaching resources, evolving from grantee management toward brokering a national learning collaborative. Among its expansion efforts: 1) a partnership with two federal agencies to enhance juvenile drug court and treatment quality improvement; and 2) a statewide expansion in North Carolina.

This article is part of a special issue of Children and Youth Services Review on the RWJF-funded Reclaiming Futures program.