Service Areas

Justice Services


The Justice Services Service Area includes a continuum of services for justice system-involved youth and disconnected TAY. The aim of the service area is to prevent further youth engagement in the justice system and reduce rates of youth recidivism through connection to adult allies, culturally relevant programming, ongoing case management, access to positive skill building activities and whole family engagement. Services are provided in partnership with the juvenile and adult justice systems and take place in system facilities as well as community-based settings.

The Justice Services Service Area includes the following initiative and strategies: Community Assessment & Referral Center (CARC), Cultural Programming, Detention Based Services, Girls’ and Young Women’s Programming, Multi-Service and Young Adult Court Case Management. Justice Services also includes the Intensive Supervision & Clinical Support Strategy funded in partnership with the Department of Public Health.


Despite marked declines in the number of youth involved in the juvenile justice system both nationally and locally, African American children and youth are still detained and incarcerated at disproportionately high rates in San Francisco’s Juvenile Hall and jails. Recent estimates based on data from the San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department show that in 2015, 11% of San Francisco’s African American children ages 10 to 18 were involved in the juvenile justice system, compared to just one and a half percent of all youth ages 10 to 18 in San Francisco. In the same year Hispanic/Latino children and youth were also disproportionately represented in the juvenile justice system, with just under 2% having systems-involvement as compared to only half a percent of their White peers. Furthermore, according to the Adult Probation Department, between 2012 and 2014, 25% of San Francisco adult arrests were young men and women ages 18 to 24. Also according to the Adult Probation Department, young adults under age 25 comprised 20% of the jail population, 25% percent of criminal court cases, and 21% of Adult Probation’s active caseload. When these statistics from the adult justice system are disaggregated by race/ethnicity, the disparities in systems involvement are even more pronounced than those found in the juvenile justice system.

Research conducted by the Justice Policy Institute and Annie E. Casey Foundation has shown that detention can be harmful for young people in both the short and long term. Placement in locked detention facilities disrupts schooling, increasing the likelihood that youth will fail classes or drop out. Compared to youth who have not spent time in custody, young people who spend time in custody are less likely to find employment and more likely to suffer mental health problems. Additionally, research suggests that formal processing is not always effective in reducing delinquent behavior.

Decades of research points to several root causes for youth involvement in the justice system: poverty, disconnect or under performance in school and unresolved trauma. American Community Survey estimates from 2014 show 54% of San Francisco’s African American children and youth ages 0-17 to be living below 300% of the Federal Poverty Level. In the 2014-15 school year, African American high school students accounted for 41% of all suspensions even though they only comprised 10% of the SFUSD student population. Additionally, while the overall high school graduation rate was 85% in 2014-15, the rate for African American students was just 71%. In terms of trauma, in 2012 53% percent of homicide victims and 63% of shooting victims in San Francisco were African American, with 39% between the ages of 18 and 25 years old.

The disparities and the research behind effective juvenile justice practices point to a need for a systems-level approach. In leveraging its values of collaboration and partnership, DCYF worked with the Juvenile Probation Department and the Department of Public Health under the guidance of the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council to identify points of justice system-involvement where the provision of supports and services would be most beneficial for children and youth. The strategies in this service area target specific subsets of the systems-involved youth population based on location of detention (Juvenile Hall, Adult Detention, specific jails), point in the adjudication process, probation status and receipt of court referrals for alternatives to secure confinement. By broadening access to supports and services across the justice system, systems-involved children and youth can successfully complete their court mandates, exit the system, reenter their communities and reduce their chances for further justice-systems involvement.