What Do Juvenile Probation Officers Think of Using the SAVRY and YLS/CMI for Case Management, and Do They Use the Instruments Properly?

Juvenile Specialty Court

What Do Juvenile Probation Officers Think of Using the SAVRY and YLS/CMI for Case Management, and Do They Use the Instruments Properly?

August 30, 2014

This describes results of a study of probation officers from six departments regarding the use of structured professional judgment versus actuarial risk assessment.

Juvenile probation officers (JPOs; n D 71) in the United States were interviewed three and ten months after the SAVRY or YLS/CMI was implemented in their office. Quantitative and qualitative analyses were used to explore their experiences using the instruments and adherence to practice guidelines. JPOs typically perceived the instruments as being ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ helpful for guiding their case planning decisions. A frequently cited barrier to using both instruments in practice related to the increased length of time it took to complete reports; yet, at the same time, some JPOs also acknowledged that use of the measures forced them to gather important information about the youth’s background and current situation that proved useful. Most JPOs (77%, n D 33 of 43) using the SAVRY expressed preference for a risk assessment model that emphasized use of appropriate professional discretion rather than a score-based approach. “Buy-in” for the instruments and the reported difficulties varied across sites. The present findings may inform recommendations specifically for delivering training on the SAVRY and YLS/CMI and, more broadly, strategies to promote their effective implementation in juvenile justice settings.

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Peer-reviewed article