Lessons Learned and Challenges
Programs Prosper with Internal Advocates
Staff in facilities are JB’s greatest assets and serve as irreplaceable advocates for the JB program. Because the JB team does not run programs in facilities, the partnership between JB staff and staff at facilities is critical. The JB team trains facilities staff on the curriculum and provides technical assistance when needed, ultimately equipping staff in facilities to implement and maintain the JB program on their own.
“Just Beginning program can only happen if it’s given to a staff person who is a champion for the idea and is given the time and the space to do it.”
—Jesse Augenstein, Program Administrator, Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Correctional Facility
Proactive Steps to Enhance Continuity Even with Staff Turnover
Turnover is a natural condition that needs to be managed strategically to ensure that program fidelity exists to the greatest extent possible. Staff turnover in juvenile correctional facilities can have negative consequences, such as limiting the number of staff available for programming activities. Across all sites, staff turnover consistently challenges the full and successful implementation of the JB program. The program is flexible enough to now actively plan for staff turnover and leadership changes at all sites. Part of the initial training is spent customizing a site-specific implementation plan that anticipates staff changes. In partnership with facility staff, the JB team can modify the program when staff changes occur without affecting program fidelity. For example, when staff capacity is low, the sessions of the JB program can be run in small groups rather than in one-on-one settings.
It is important to note that not all staff turnover is negative. Facility staff are often promoted and advanced to positions of leadership. In these cases, the JB program often benefits from the changes that occur. Nevertheless, disruptions in continuity can result in short-term stress to the program.
In addition to site-specific customization, the JB team has streamlined a process to provide booster trainings remotely when such training is needed to ensure implementation success, continuity, and sustainability.
Ensuring Data Integrity
Facility staff use the validated tool, “This Is My Baby (TIMB) interview” (Bates and Dozier, University of Delaware) to interview fathers when they enter the JB program. The TIMB interview is a protocol that assesses the parent–child relationship. The interview is scored on three dimensions:
- Commitment, which assesses the father’s attachment to the child and how strongly the father wishes to build an enduring relationship;
- Acceptance, which measures the extent to which the father views the child as a positive, unique individual; and
- Influence, which evaluates how fully the father recognizes the immediate and long-term effects of his actions on the child’s psychological and emotional development.
During early implementation of the JB program, the JB team discovered that data collection is a new and sometimes difficult task for some staff at facilities. Some staff struggled to complete the pre- and post-TIMB interviews or failed to upload data. As a result, the JB team held a series of listening sessions with staff at facilities to determine barriers to collecting data through the TIMB interview. The JB team found that most concerns could be addressed in training and strategies could be implemented to simplify the process of collecting and sending data that did not burden staff at facilities. In partnership with staff at facilities, the JB team has implemented the following changes to improve data integrity:
- Expand initial training to include time for training on the TIMB interview,
- Provide staff at facilities with opportunities during training to practice mock TIMB interviews,
- Designate a person at the facility who will be responsible for maintaining data; and
- Conduct regular, proactive check-ins with facility staff around data collection.