Risk assessment and case planning by juvenile probation officers: The role of trauma

Evan David Holloway, Fordham University


Approximately 61% of juvenile court cases will result in community supervision by a juvenile probation officer (JPO) each year. JPOs are responsible for maintaining community safety by holding offenders accountable for delinquent behavior and balancing the individual rehabilitative needs of the offender. In contemporary juvenile probation practice, there has been an increased use of structured professional judgment risk assessment tools based on the Risk-Needs-Responsivity (RNR) model. Of the three principles that guide the RNR model, little research has been conducted on the Responsivity Principle in the context of juvenile probation. The aim of the current study was to fill this gap in the literature by examining how JPOs incorporate information about trauma into scoring of an RNR-informed risk assessment tool and case planning based on the results. Vignettes that systematically included or omitted information about traumatic event exposures and traumatic stress symptoms were administered to JPOs in the State of Pennsylvania. Participants were asked to complete a RNR-informed risk assessment tool, the YLS/CMI, based on the information in the vignette and to use that information to write a case plan. Case plans were coded using the Adherence Checklist for the Evaluation and Reduction of Risk (ACERR) for the amount of detail, focus, and inclusion of strategies beyond supervision and referrals, as well as adherence to the RNR model. A series of one-way ANOVAs were calculated to test the three study hypotheses. There were no main effects on overall risk and the identification of high-risk needs neither on the YLS/CMI nor on intensity/dosage of services or high-risk needs that were targeted on the case plan for intervention. There was a main effect of traumatic event exposure and traumatic stress exposure their respective specific responsivity factors on the YLS/CMI. These findings suggest that some JPOs trained in use of the YLS/CMI are capable of detecting trauma-related specific responsivity factors. There was great variability in the ratio of high-risk needs addressed on the case plan. Less than 5% of trauma-specific responsivity items were addressed on case plans. Implications for the incorporation of trauma-specific responsivity factors in case planning are discussed.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology|Criminology

Recommended Citation

Holloway, Evan David, "Risk assessment and case planning by juvenile probation officers: The role of trauma" (2015). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI1601369.