Our Research

2016: See the Change: Girls’ Juvenile Justice Trends on the First Coast

The Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center’s 3-year data analysis reveals a significant reduction in the number of girls incarcerated on the First Coast and reveals issues that warrant attention, such as continued disparities for girls in commitment for non-law violation of probation and high mental health needs. The trends provide context to understand the lived experience of girls and is documented in research launched in 2015 Breaking New Ground on the First Coast: Examining Girls’ Pathways into the Juvenile Justice System research. Click here to see the publication’s Factsheet. Click here to download the See the Change supplement piece.


Assessing the Impact of Court Costs and Fees on Juveniles and Families

This is a 2 year exploratory research study in response to the Breaking New Ground research that found 50% of girls from First Coast were incarcerated for a technical violation of probation. Juvenile court fees are contributing to the revolving door of youth’s justice involvement, but unlike adults, the fees for children are placed on their families as well— meaning families are held financially liable. This report is the first of a three phase study on the impact of court costs and fees on juveniles and their families. This report represents Phase 1, a literature review of the intent of court fees, impact of fees of youth and their families, and the benefits of implementing an alternative model. Areas of impact of youth and families include exacerbation of poverty, inability to pay drives youth deeper into the system and unfairly increases the amount of time a child spends under increased surveillance and scrutiny (probation), and also increases juvenile justice racial disparities. The second part of the report takes a closer look at the 4th Judicial Circuit which revealed the amount collected in Juvenile Court Fees is minuscule in comparison to amounts collected in Circuit and County Criminal court. While administrative costs for imposing and attempting to collect fees for the 4th Judicial Circuit Juvenile Court isn’t publicly available, if costs are more than $128,000, the cost of fee collection is more than what can be recouped.  The report begs for more information and recommendations for reform; therefore, Phase 2 will including listening sessions with youth, families, and system leaders who impose the fees to provide context about the impact of collection policies and identify gaps in practice. Phase 3 will include a cost benefit analysis with secondary data provided by the Department of Juvenile Justice.


Breaking New Ground on the First Coast: Examining Girls’ Pathways into the Juvenile Justice System

The Policy Center’s latest study elevates the experiences of girls’ from the First Coast (Duval, Clay, Nassau, Baker, and St. Johns counties) who are locked up in juvenile residential commitment programs in Florida. Participants offer clear narratives about what girls in this community are facing, what protective factors buffer their own life traumas, and what girls need. Their lived experiences paint a failure of our community and systems to intervene at multiple times throughout girls’ lives.  Critical issues and questions are raised in the report which provides an opportunity for policymakers, service providers, citizens, and funders to begin a meaningful dialogue about short and long-terms strategies to transform the response to girls in the community.  Click here to read the Executive Summary and Full Report.


2013: A Wake-Up Call: Trends in Girls’ Involvement in the Justice System

This was the first publication by the Policy Center to highlight the trends of girls’ involvement along the juvenile justice continuum in Florida (arrest, diversion, detention, probation, commitment and transfer to adult system). It also identifies the current disparities for girls and young women that warrant immediate attention and immediate action with specific attention to trends in the First Coast. These include the arrest and incarceration of girls for non-felonies at higher rates than boys, commitments for violations of probation, and the needs of girls that require a different approach.


In Harm’s Way:  Child Abuse, Child Rape and Sex Trafficking

This concept paper challenges readers to think about child sexual exploitation in the context of child abuse and discusses breaking trauma bonds through therapeutic alliances and the importance of alternatives to involuntary lock up of victims. The concept paper explores victims’ experiences of early trauma and sexual exploitation and the impact of involuntary lockup versus building therapeutic alliances. Click here to see the Policy Center’s Position Statement on the Safe Harbor law.


Where do the Children Play?

This was an exploratory research project through a professional services agreement with the Jessie Ball duPont Fund to examine the benefits of play and the impediments to play for the most vulnerable populations in Jacksonville. Through a literature review and listening sessions (full report) with youth serving and affordable housing providers, there was  much to learn about what the local community thinks about play, where children play, how they play, who encourages/facilitates play, and barriers to play.   We found that even though there is recognition about the value of play, there are competing priorities for vulnerable populations (i.e. food, shelter) and play is not a priority; and on an agency level risk management policies and practices highly impact children’s play.  Click here to read the final brief, which summarizes the literature review and listening sessions.


Research Fellow Projects

Body Image

Our 2013 Joan Van Vleck Research Fellow, Aubrey Moore, conducted exploratory research on the issue of body image. Her analysis explores the positive and negative influences that family members, peers and the media can have on a girl’s body image. The findings from this research have implications for the Policy Center’s work moving forward.

Changing Conversations about Sexual Assault

Our 2014 Joan Van Vleck Research Fellow, Haley Pritchard, critically examined some of the problematic aspects of language usage– when we talk about girls, women, and sexual violence.  She raises awareness about and encourages discussion regarding the often-unexamined value judgments inherent in language.  Click here to see her blog post and a summary of the findings.

Incorporating the Voice of Parents and Guardians to Improve Services for Girls and Families

Our 2015 Joan Van Vleck Research Fellows, Stephanie Cazeau surveyed the parents of girls in the Continuity of Care Model Program.  The survey measured caregivers’ experiences at the Policy Center and with staff.


To see evaluation of our Model Programs, click here.




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Jacksonville, FL 32202