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Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI)


In conjunction with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Department has implemented the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) to support the vision that all juvenile justice involved youth will have opportunities to develop into healthy, productive adults. Applying JDAI core strategies and decision making based on data-driven policies and practices will establish system accountability to reduce secure detention placements, and promote long-lasting productive outcomes for youth development and public safety.

What is the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI)?

JDAI is a detention reform and juvenile justice system improvement initiative launched in 1992 by the Annie E. Casey Foundation in urban and rural jurisdictions. JDAI demonstrates that moving low-risk youth from secure detention into community-based alternative programs is an effective public policy.

JDAI establishes outstanding public safety outcomes, minimizes detention over-crowding, and creates savings for taxpayers by reducing secure detention placements and the need for more expensive facilities. It improves efficiencies in juvenile justice system operations and produces better outcomes for youth and their families.

JDAI’s comprehensive interrelated core strategies:

      1. Collaborate between juvenile justice agencies, governmental entities, and community organizations that undertake joint planning and policymaking to address reforms.
      2. Use accurate data to diagnose system’s issues and assess the impact of various reforms.
      3. Develop and use objective admission criteria and instruments to guide detention decisions.
      4. Offer new or enhanced non-secure alternatives to detention.
      5. Introduce case processing reforms to expedite the flow of cases through the system, reduce lengths of stay in custody, expand non-secure slots, and ensure timely and appropriate interventions. 
      6. Reduce secure detention of youth in custody for violations, warrants, and awaiting placement.
      7. Eliminate bias and reduce racial disparity by ensuring a level playing field for youth of color.
      8. Apply rigorous protocols and standards to improve conditions of confinement in facilities.

FL Youth Justice Commission logo

Overview of group purpose

The Florida Youth Justice Commission (FYJC) is a partnership established to promote continuous juvenile justice system improvement. The commission provides support to local sites and works to implement reform for cross cutting concerns. This ongoing juvenile justice system improvement is conducted using the Annie E. Casey’s Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI) strategies. These strategies aim to ensure that local reforms are successful and on-going improvements are sustainable at all levels of government. Selection as an official JDAI site and timeframes for start-up are based on both a site’s readiness to engage in the challenging work of system reform and resources available to Florida JDAI. Annie E. Casey Foundation’s JDAI is a nationally known initiative that has been successfully implemented in jurisdictions around the country. Although it is well known for detention reform, the work of this initiative facilitates system improvement across the entire juvenile justice continuum.


FYJC membership includes, but is not limited to, representatives from:

  • Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ)
  • Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF)
  • Florida Department of Education (DOE)
  • Florida Association of District School Superintendents
  • Florida Coalition of Children
  • Multiagency Network for Students with Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities (SEDNET)
  • Law Enforcement agencies
  • Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)
  • Defense Attorneys
  • Prosecutors
  • Office of Court Administrators

JDAI Newsletters and Publications

Read the JDAI newsletters and other publications.

Utilization Studies

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: JDAI seems to focus a lot on detention, how do we use JDAI and not put the public at risk?

    Yes, several of the JDAI Core Strategies focus on detention; however as a process, JDAI is not a “get out of jail” card. The very fabric of JDAI surrounds the use of the detention, and using the framework to identify trends of the use of detention, can provide an insight of areas of improvement. When discussing the use of detention, the local collaborative should be focused on leveling the playing field so that similarly situated youth, are treated similarly.

    When used to the fidelity of the model, the local collaborative should be able to safely develop alternatives to detention. (See Alternatives to Detention Core Strategy, and access JDAIhelpdesk.org for Pathways # 4 for additional information)

  • Q: What does this mean?
    A: JDAI is a framework that was developed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation that is focused on improving the overall juvenile system within a jurisdiction. In order for JDAI to work effectively in your jurisdictions, a collaborative of stakeholders would need to meet, discuss, and analyze areas within the system where improvement maybe needed.
  • Q: What if I already know what the problem is, and have a viable solution?

    Working in the system provides stakeholders with an intimate view on these possible trends, however, these trends are often identified through our professional looking glass. We each have a unique view on what is going on within the system, however, it is not a complete picture.

    JDAI allows us to use high level data to identify areas of improvement, while the local collaborative digs deeper to explain why the data present accordingly. Once these areas have been identified by using the data, JDAI provides a framework in working through the model. (See JDAI Core Strategy Framework)

  • Q: We have a great system already, why do we need JDAI?
    A: JDAI provides a systematic process that allows for a pin point system improvement using data. (See the JDAI Core Strategies Matrix for a full list of the areas of focus.) The JDAI framework does not replace your current system, but provides specific insight into possible areas of improvement.
  • Q: What is JDAI?
    A: The Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI) is a systematic process focused on ongoing improvement of the juvenile system. JDAI as a process focuses on the use of eight core strategies to identify trends within a jurisdiction, implement the problem solving model framework, identify best practices, develop a solution, and track the outcomes.
  • Q: Now that we have identified the problem using the data, how do we know if what we are doing is going to work?

    The great thing about JDAI is that is has been around for years, and is used in over 300 jurisdictions. Having all of those jurisdictions successfully using JDAI, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has created a help desk which provides best practices which have been used across the JDAI network. These best practices span all of the core strategies, and can provide assistance with solutions. Chances are the trends and areas of improvement are not unique to Florida.

    See JDAIHelpdesk.org for more information on best practices. Also be sure to utilize your JDAI Coordinator as they are JDAI EXPERTS.

  • Q: The majority of arrests in our jurisdiction are for felonies, which causes our detention numbers to be high. How do we improve what we are doing, if the youth are still committing these crimes?
    A: The JDAI model will assist the collaborative in identifying all areas of concern, and possible improvement. The local JDAI Coordinator can assist the collaborative with targeting specific areas based on the data presented, and help facilitate discussions of the true use of detention as well as what is a threat to public safety.
  • Q: What data will be used to help us identify these areas?
    A: The Department of Juvenile Justice provides a “high level” picture of what is happening locally, however, this information does not provide a reason for why these trends currently exist. It is up to the collaborative to identify other forms of data that will be needed in order to adequately provide an explanation of what is happening locally. This same set of data will be needed in order to track the outcomes, both intended and unintended.

For more information, contact:

Minnora Bishop

JDAI Statewide Coordinator

(850) 717-2709