Standards for private organizations

2020 Edition

Juvenile Justice Day Services (JJD) 3: Engagement and Assessment

The organization’s engagement and assessment practices ensure that youth receive prompt and responsive access to appropriate services.


It is likely that youth will have been assessed elsewhere before being referred to the organization. However, the organization should still take steps to further evaluate youth after referral. At minimum, the organization should review the results of previous assessments to ensure they meet COA’s standards, and conduct additional assessments if those done previously are insufficient.
2020 Edition




Juvenile Justice Day Services promote public safety and reduce the need for out-of-home placements by allowing youth to reside in their communities while they address problems and develop the attitudes and skills needed to make responsible choices, avoid negative behaviors, and become productive, connected, and law-abiding members of their communities.
All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice Standards.
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality; or
  • Procedures need strengthening; or
  • With few exceptions, procedures are understood by staff and are being used; or
  • In a few rare instances, urgent needs were not prioritized; or
  • For the most part, established timeframes are met; or
  • Culturally responsive assessments are the norm and any issues with individual staff members are being addressed through performance evaluations and training; or
  • Active client participation occurs to a considerable extent.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards. Service quality or program functioning may be compromised; e.g.,
  • Procedures and/or case record documentation need significant strengthening; or
  • Procedures are not well-understood or used appropriately; or
  • Urgent needs are often not prioritized; or 
  • Services are frequently not initiated in a timely manner; or
  • Applicants are not receiving referrals, as appropriate; or 
  • Assessment and reassessment timeframes are often missed; or
  • Assessments are sometimes not sufficiently individualized; 
  • Culturally responsive assessments are not the norm, and this is not being addressed in supervision or training; or
  • Several client records are missing important information; or
  • Client participation is inconsistent; or
  • Intake or assessment is done by another organization or referral source and no documentation and/or summary of required information is present in case record. 
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards; e.g.,
  • There are no written procedures, or procedures are clearly inadequate or not being used; or
  • Documentation is routinely incomplete and/or missing.  
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Screening and intake procedures
  • Assessment procedures
  • Copy of assessment tool(s)
  • Evidence of collaboration with the court and/or public agency responsible for juvenile justice
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Youth served and their families
  • Review case records

Fundamental Practice

JJD 3.01

To promote safety and support timely initiation of services, the organization responds to referrals by:
  1. contacting youth promptly, within specified timeframes;
  2. gathering identifying and emergency contact information;
  3. screening youth to identify emergency health needs and safety concerns, such as imminent danger or risk of future harm; 
  4. determining whether youth are appropriate for the program; and
  5. notifying referral sources if youth cannot be served, or cannot be served promptly.


When another party (such as the court) determines the date youth are to report to the program, it may not be relevant for the organization to contact youth. However, the organization should still implement the rest of the standard, and follow up if youth do not report as scheduled.


JJD 3.02

Youth participate in an individualized, culturally and linguistically responsive assessment that is:
  1. completed within established timeframes; 
  2. updated as needed based on youths’ risks and needs;
  3. focused on information pertinent for meeting service objectives; and
  4. supplemented with information provided by the referral source, collaborating providers, and/or family members, when appropriate.


JJD 3.03

Assessments are conducted in a standardized manner and address:
  1. youths’ problems and needs; 
  2. youths’ strengths and assets; and 
  3. risks youth pose to the community.


Organizations should assess youth in all relevant areas including social skills and behavior, physical and mental health, substance use, family, education, and vocation. Organizations that do not have the resources to comprehensively assess all youth in all relevant areas (e.g., mental health) should conduct systematic service need screenings to determine when youth are in need of more in-depth assessments. Special attention should be paid to any concerns identified in previous screenings and assessments, and further evaluation should be conducted if necessary.  

When a program is designed to provide less-intensive day services, it may be appropriate to complete a more minimal assessment.


The Assessment Matrix - Private, Public, Canadian, Network determines which level of assessment is required for COA’s Service Sections. The assessment elements of the Matrix can be tailored according to the needs of specific individuals or service design.


JJD 3.04

The organization collaborates with relevant parties, including the court and the public agency responsible for juvenile justice, to encourage placement of youth into programs that address their risks and needs in the least restrictive environment necessary.


 Although an individual organization without statutory authority does not control referral and placement decisions, organizations should take steps to encourage the court and public agency to make appropriate placement decisions, to the extent possible. This will likely occur on a macro-level and address placements and referrals generally, but may also occur in relation to individual cases.