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May 21, 2018
Contact: Kyung Jin Lee

New Report Shows Huge Reductions in Out-of-Home Placements for Youth in Alameda County
Bucking national trends, the county also saw decreases in racial and ethnic disparities

OAKLAND, CA: A new report shows that over a three year period, Alameda County Probation Department decreased the number of youth placed out-of-home by 78 percent. In addition, the department went against national trends by lowering the rates of Black and Latino youth in out-of-home placements in Alameda County.

The report, “Reducing Out-of-Home Placements in Alameda,” published by Impact Justice, analyzed a total of six years of data, including three years of prior comparison data, from the Alameda County Probation Department, as well as conducted in-depth interviews with various stakeholders including probation department employees and direct service providers.

The youth justice system has seen a national decline in the total number of youth who are in post-adjudication probation and out-of-home placements over the past 10 to 15 years. Despite this progress, racial and ethnic disparities have persisted, and in some cases, increased. Bucking this trend, Alameda County Probation Department successfully reduced the proportion of Black youth placed out-of-home from 73 percent to 59 percent, and Latino youth from 22 percent to 17 percent.

“The Alameda County Probation Department is committed to improving outcomes for youth and provide them with the best opportunities for success,” said Wendy Still, Chief Probation Officer of Alameda County Probation Department. “The findings of this report show clear evidence of the priority our department has placed on reducing the overuse of out-of-home placement, and addressing racial and ethnic disparity. While the results of this report are very encouraging, we remain committed to increasing the success of at risk youth by providing them access to wraparound services, services from community-based partners, and the use of evidence based practices.”

These improvements came as a result of major shifts in the department’s priorities, which stemmed from both changes in state laws and research that shows out-of-home placements lasting longer than six months are detrimental to youth. As a response, the department increased trainings and staff meetings focused on the changes in policy and practice. It also raised efforts to offer wraparound services and services to the entire family, and improved its collaboration with outside entities such as community-based organizations and school districts.

“Alameda County Probation Department deserves kudos for showing the rest of the country it’s possible to reduce overall rates of out-of-home placements, as well as racial and ethnic disparities,” said Danielle Soto, co-author of the report and Senior Policy Analyst and Researcher at Impact Justice. “The entire department was proactive in their desire to make deep changes, from the leadership to rank and file probation officers, and we’re proud to have partnered with them to show the results of their commitment. We hope this serves as a national model for probation departments in starting to turn these numbers around.”

Examples of out-of-home placements include youth being sent to group homes, ranches, camps, and foster homes. Data related to individual records, including demographic information, youth risk assessment scores, and information about current charges and past arrests from two time frames — between 2010 and 2013 and between 2014 and 2016 — were provided to Impact Justice from Alameda County Probation Department. The evaluation team also gathered qualitative interviews and case study data.

Link to the report:


Impact Justice is a national innovation and research center advancing new ideas and solutions for justice reform. We work to dramatically reduce the massive number of youth and adults in our justice system, improve conditions and outcomes for those who are incarcerated, and provide meaningful opportunities for formerly incarcerated people to rejoin their communities.

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