Since its founding, DSG has performed work for states and local jurisdictions, usually in juvenile or criminal justice but also in behavioral health and education. Often the work has entailed reviewing a state’s juvenile residential facilities and making recommendations for reform. Other times it has involved analyzing a specific social problem for a city or county. Still other times we have performed the work on behalf of the federal government, providing training or technical assistance to states or territories or helping them comply with federal regulations.



For the state of Maryland, DSG conducted a gap analysis study to develop a Facilities Master Plan for the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services (DJS). The final report includes a comprehensive assessment of current state and community-based programs and services; an assessment of the DJS 2005 Strategic Plan; detailed projections of classifications of youth to be served by DJS and the range of services recommended to be provided; and estimates of the impact of policy and practice reforms on factors such as costs, recidivism, length of stay, and facility programming for effective, holistic, family-based, individualized intervention and treatment strategies. The study was based on a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the current population of DJS youth and a forecast of the future DJS population. The central feature to the study compared the residential service capacity of the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services to the service needs of the juvenile justice population. A gap in service delivery was defined as more youth in need of particular service than the system’s current allotted capacity. Conversely, a surplus in service delivery was defined fewer youth in need of particular service than the system’s current allotted capacity.

Also for Maryland’s Department of Juvenile Justice, DSG conducted a feasibility study to develop performance-based standards for state-operated services and programs and providers under contract to that department.

For the National Institute of Justice and the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center (Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene) in Jessup, Md., DSG staff directed a longitudinal study of a 12-year cohort of Maryland’s criminally insane forensic patients and two matched control groups consisting of parolees and mentally disordered prisoners from the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services prisons. Extensive longitudinal posttreatment data were collected over a span of 20 years, including arrests, subsequent reoccurrence of mental illness, and readmittance to mental hospitals. 

DSG staff designed and developed outpatient and aftercare tracking systems for the state of Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Conditional Release Program. The tracking system is used by the 12 Maryland state hospitals to follow more than 400 outpatients annually.

For the state of Connecticut, DSG developed recommendations to support compliance with the core performance standards of the American Correctional Association.

For the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force, DSG completed the Northern Virginia Gang Assessment Study. The 6-month study surveyed current and former gang members to examine the characteristics of gang members, as well as the level of gang activity and volume of gang membership in Northern Virginia.

For the Virginia Department of Corrections’ Division of Youth and Family Services, DSG conducted an impact evaluation and recidivism study of Law-Related Education (LRE) court diversion programs. The LRE program, implemented in five Virginia counties, served first-time juvenile offenders in lieu of probation. 

For the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), DSG is conducting a statewide assessment of disproportionate minority contact in the Virginia juvenile justice system. The proposed assessment will analyze data to identify assessment targets (processing points/jurisdictions); obtain and analyze quantitative data on targeted processing points/jurisdictions; conduct site visits to targeted jurisdictions using interviews/focus groups to obtain qualitative data providing probable explanations of DMC; and prepare a final report, with a presentation to stakeholders.

For Maryland’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS), DSG staff conducted the following activities:

    1. Under emergency circumstances, DSG staff provided management support to the DPSCS Secretary, the Institution’s Director, and her successors and senior managers to establish the program policies, goals, objectives, and strategies resulting in the formulation and promulgation of legislatively required state regulations for Patuxent Institution, the state’s rehabilitation prison. DSG staff also developed a policy formulation process, assessed options against potential impacts in six areas, built consensus among line managers, and presented recommended courses of actions to the Secretary. The resulting policy was then codified in a 200-page regulation that became a model for other state policies on corrections. The project included developing and managing four working groups and 10 working groups consisting of departmental directors, managers and staff.
    2. Developed a Request for Proposals (RFP) and managed the Source Selection Committee for the evaluation of Patuxent Institution.
    3. Advised the Secretary of Public Safety on risk-assessment evaluation technologies for work release decisions. 


For the District of Columbia Public Schools, DSG staff designed and conducted a comprehensive evaluation of educational services for at-risk English-language minority students. 

For the Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program in Fairfax County, Va., DSG evaluated program effectiveness in terms of decreased child abuse, improved case management, and improved case handling. The evaluation examined operations, volunteer training, activities, and CASA services’ impact on children. The evaluation included the development of five surveys (judges, social workers, attorneys, volunteers, and service recipients), and the development of a project tracking system and management information system.

Funded by the District of Columbia’s Justice Grants Administration in September 2009, DSG assessed the impact of the Boys Town Washington D.C., Inc., reentry/family reunification program (FRP) for incarcerated adolescents. FRP on two major outcomes: family functioning and recidivism. A pre-post design was used to assess family functioning at two data points: program entry and 6 months post-program completion. The North Carolina Family Assessment Scale for Reunification was administered to the treatment group at each data point to measure change in family functioning in five domains: environment, family capabilities, family interactions, family safety, and child well-being. A quasi-experimental two-group design was used to assess recidivism. A comparison group was identified through a propensity score procedure using the Justice Information System and consisted of an equal number of youths released from a DYRS commitment during the past 3 years who did not receive reentry and who have similar pretreatment characteristics to the treatment youth. The Treatment Family Home Program, in operation for 20 years assisting thousands of youth and families nationally, was designated a promising program by the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s (OJJDP) Model Programs Guide.

Through a contract with the District of Columbia’s Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education and the Interagency Collaboration and Services Integration Commission (ICSIC), DSG conducted an evaluation of five evidence-based programs implemented in D.C. public schools. The initiative addressed the needs of at-risk children through the implementation of the D.C. Student Assessment and Resilience Team (or D.C. START) program and other evidence-based programs in the public schools, including Primary Project, Second Step, LifeSkills Training, and School Resource Officers. This evaluation was guided by research questions related to student-level outcomes, school-level outcomes, and community-level outcomes. A single-group pretest/posttest design was used to assess the effects of each program. Student-level outcomes examined changes in grades, school discipline incidents, attendance, and behaviorally specified target psychosocial and emotional development (e.g., personal development, level of functioning); school-level outcomes examined changes in truancy, drug use, delinquency, feelings of safety, fights on school grounds, weapons carrying, and school climate. Annual surveys of students, parents, and school personnel were conducted.

For the District of Columbia (DC) Public Schools, DSG performed an evaluation of the Youth Awareness Program (YAP), an innovative, school prevention program jointly operated by the DC public school system and the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department. YAP, a drug prevention program, provided youths with facts about drugs, alcohol, sexuality, and positive careers. The program served more than 7,000 children in 10 schools. Extensive surveys were conducted and interviews held with program teachers, police officers, facilitators, school administrators, and youths. The evaluation examined the curriculum, administration and operations, policies and procedures, and short-term impacts on youth served. 

For the Newton County (Ga.) Juvenile Court, DSG staff has conducted a court system review for the Hon. Sheri Roberts, Chief Judge. The overarching purpose for the technical assistance was to construct a long-term plan for comprehensive system improvement that concentrated on the following: effective and efficient court operations and practice; improved capacity to collect and aggregate performance data for the programs and services used on behalf of the children and families served by the Newton County Juvenile Court and its partner agencies and providers; effective practices and intervention strategies on behalf of school-based delinquency referrals; and implementation of enhanced interagency approaches for multisystem youth that support effective and efficient case planning and case management.

For the National Association of Counties and Administration on Children, Youth and Families, DSG staff designed and produced a manual for county officials titled Identifying and Combating Juvenile Prostitution.

For the National League of Cities, DSG staff authored a chapter on Youth Employment for a book of case studies, entitled Children, Families and Cities: Programs That Work at the Local Level. Research included assessment of over 30 national youth employment and alternative education programs, involving extensive analysis of program services and outcome, including interviews with program directors, state administrators, and youth.


For the National Institute of Justice, DSG developed a corrections research agenda for Maryland’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS). The project included conducting a problem identification and needs assessment through the use of extensive focus group sessions with agency and department personnel. The research design included the development of a database of research objectives prioritized by topic and the development of a policy-driven prioritized corrections research agenda. The methodology entailed conducting seven focus groups and surveys involving more than 40 senior managers and wardens at the DPSCS. Focus group meetings resulted in a consensus on major operational problems facing the divisions in the identification of and ways in which research could address these problems. Surveys elicited research information (at both service and unit levels) on client impact, program operations, and service delivery. Implications for program development and research utilization were presented to NIJ.

Through DSG’s cooperative agreement to provide training and technical assistance for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), for the Juvenile Accountability Incentive Block Grants Program (JAIBG), DSG conducted a variety of primary and secondary research projects. DSG conducted an Annual Status of the States survey on implementation of the JAIBG program; general and specialized needs assessments for training; and a variety of focus groups on topics such as JAIBG Administrative Issues: Focus Group Recommendations on Implementation, Understanding Treatment and Accountability in Juvenile Sex Offending: Recommendations for the Field, and Information Sharing and Information Technology: Focus Group Recommendations and Findings, and Juvenile Drug Courts. In addition, DSG researched and developed a Guide for the Implementation of Community Assessment Centers (CAC). The CAC manual is “how to” guide for communities that wish to develop a CAC. This project involved talking with program directors of CACs around the country to ascertain their models, review the literature, and construct a useful resource document. 

Under a contract with OJJDP to provide training and technical assistance for Title II Formula Grants, DSG wrote a series of Bulletins on each of the State Challenge Grant Activity Areas. This project involved extensive reviews of the literature and interviews with state and local program directors to determine how states are using their funding. Challenge grants included a wide spectrum of substantive activity areas: alternatives to suspension and expulsion from school, gender-specific programs, access to defense counsel, aftercare, case system reviews, basic system services for incarcerated juveniles, building facilities for violent juvenile offenders, ombudsman services, community-based alternatives to detention and incarceration, and status offenses. Each Bulletin informs readers of the latest research, model programs, resources and tools.

For OJJDP, DSG was the Court Coordination Program (CCP) contractor, helping five local juvenile court systems create and sustain comprehensive, community-based coordinated service programs for court-involved delinquent or dependent youth. CCP emphasizes mental health, wraparound services, and substance misuse screening and treatment—for participating youth in the overall context of synchronized school, family, and community interventions—designed to shorten their participation and reduce recidivism in the justice system. During the first contract, DSG provided targeted technical assistance to the five pilot sites on how to organize and provide mental health and substance misuse services to youth assigned to the CCP. During the second contract, DSG provided training and technical assistance at 12 state and local sites.

In collaboration with OJJDP, DSG developed a 2-day training curriculum for State DMC Coordinators and community planners and trainers to work with communities to implement the five-stage OJJDP DMC Reduction Model. More than 20 state-level people have been trained in the new curriculum and another national training is planned for this winter.

DSG managed the Youth Violence Prevention Training and Technical Assistance project for OJJDP, by brokering, coordinating, and providing relevant training and technical assistance (T&TA) to the 45 jurisdictions OJJDP funded through its three youth violence prevention initiatives—Defending Childhood, the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, and Community-Based Violence Prevention. The work aims to promote the well-being of children and youth, their families, and the communities where they reside, and also to enhance public safety by preventing and reducing violence. Under this cooperative work, DSG works closely with OJJDP, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Departments of Education, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development. In this effort, DSG deploys strategic, coordinated T&TA to OJJDP’s youth violence grantees to help them plan, implement, and sustain their youth violence prevention and well-being work and provides a range of high-quality, cost-effective technical support on topics and reform (community and system change) processes. In addition, DSG provides expertise and resources to help the communities develop professional knowledge and capacity, reform policy and practice, increase effective use of data to inform decision-making, raise public awareness, generate and align and/or reallocate existing resources, enhance community outreach, increase engagement of and collaboration among the full range of stakeholders, and promote collective impact. In addition to this, DSG plans and coordinates national youth violence prevention conferences for OJJDP that provide a range of tools and resources though expert panels/presentations, trainings and peer to peer exercises.

As the national State Advisory Group (SAG) training provider, DSG works on behalf of OJJDP to understand SAG members’ needs and meet those needs through training and technical assistance. SAGs exist in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Territories and serve to improve the juvenile justice systems within their provinces and work with communities, schools, and families to reduce juvenile delinquency. The SAG in each state sets priority areas and develops a Comprehensive 3-Year-Plan based on an analysis of local crime statistics, gaps in related systems, trends within the state, and identified needs. OJJDP provides grant money to all states that meet the four Core Requirements of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act: 1) juveniles who commit status offenses (offenses that would not be criminal if committed by an adult) must not be placed in secure detention or correctional facilities; 2) juveniles must not be detained or confined in any institution in which they have contact with adult inmates; 3) juveniles who commit nonstatus offenses must not be locked up in an adult institution (even while separated from adults) for more than 6 hours; and 4) efforts must be made to reduce the disproportionate number of members of minority groups who come into contact with the juvenile justice system. Such states are then free to disperse subgrants as they please. Each SAG has from 15 to 33 members, each appointed by the Governor or a senior elected official, with 20 percent of the members being under 24 years old at the time of appointment. At least one member on each SAG must be a locally elected official, and at least three must have been or currently be under the jurisdiction of the juvenile justice system. Through individual trainings, technical assistance, and an annual national training, DSG helps SAGs understand the rules by which they must function, develop comprehensive 3-year plans to comply with the four Core Requirements, and in turn help the states make informed decisions on setting juvenile justice priorities based on their state-specific trends and needs.

For OJJDP, DSG managed the Title V Training and Technical Assistance for State and Local Governments contract, which fostered developing and implementing risk-focused comprehensive communitywide delinquency prevention plans. The Title V Program encourages communities to perform multidisciplinary assessments of the risk and resources specific to their communities and then develop communitywide, collaborative plans to prevent delinquency. This project included customized curriculum and resource document development, including a Community Data Collection Manual, Promising and Effective Programs Guide, trainer and participant manuals, reference material, and a newsletter. Title V was built on a research-based comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach, community control and decision making, leveraging of resources and systems, evaluation to monitor success, and a long-term planning perspective. More than 100 training events were provided annually to local communities to guide prevention planning. Four stages of training were offered: Community Team Orientation Training, Data Collection and Analysis Training, Plan and Program Development Training, and Training of Trainers. As the National T&TA contractor, DSG established and maintained a coordinated communication system through collaboration with OJJDP, local communities, and Title V grantees, including public agencies and private organizations serving children, youth, and families.

DSG was the prime contractor, with Abt as a subcontractor, on a SAMHSA contract titled “State-Level Approaches to Building Crisis Response Systems.” Under this contract, DSG convened focus groups, conducted interviews with key informants, did an extensive literature review, and wrote a white paper that summarized all of the above, addressing the current status of behavioral health crisis response systems in selected states in the nation. A draft of the white paper was presented to and discussed at a meeting of national experts on crisis response systems, who were in broad agreement with the white paper, and who offered some suggestions for refinements. The white paper presented findings, which included a set of characteristics of crisis response systems that are promising and that could be considered worthy of emulation and further development.