Standards for public agencies

2020 Edition

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

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


 Youth may have been assessed elsewhere before being referred to the agency. However, the agency should still take steps to further evaluate youth after referral. At minimum, the agency 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.
Full Implementation, Outstanding Performance
A rating of (1) indicates that the agency's practices fully meet the standard and reflect a high level of capacity.  
  • All elements or requirements outlined in the standard are evident in practice, with rare or no exceptions: exceptions do not impact service quality or agency performance. 
Substantial Implementation, Good Performance
A rating of (2) indicates that an agency's infrastructure and practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement.
  • The majority of the standards requirements have been met and the basic framework required by the standard has been implemented. 
  • Minor inconsistencies and not yet fully developed practices are noted; however, these do not significantly impact service quality or agency performance.

Partial Implementation, Concerning Performance
A rating of (3) indicates that the agency's observed infrastructure and/or practices require significant improvement.  

  • The agency has not implemented the basic framework of the standard but instead has in place only part of this framework.  
  • Omissions or exceptions to the practices outlined in the standard occur regularly, or practices are implemented in a cursory or haphazard manner.  
  • Service quality or agency functioning may be compromised.  
  • Capacity is at a basic level.
Unsatisfactory Implementation or Performance
A rating of (4) indicates that implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all.  
  • The agency’s observed service delivery infrastructure and practices are weak or non-existent; or show signs of neglect, stagnation, or deterioration.
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Screening and intake procedures
  • Assessment procedures
  • Copy of assessment tool(s)
  • Evidence of collaboration to encourage appropriate placement
  • Interviews may include:
    1. Program director
    2. Relevant personnel
    3. Youth served and their families
  • Review case records

Fundamental Practice

PA-JJD 3.01

To promote safety and support timely initiation of services, the agency 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 agency to contact youth. However, the agency should still implement the rest of the standard, and follow up if youth do not report as scheduled.

PA-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.

PA-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.


Agencies should assess youth in all relevant areas including social skills and behavior, physical and mental health, substance use, family, education, and vocation. Agencies 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.

PA-JJD 3.04

The agency collaborates with relevant parties, such as the court, to encourage placement of youth into programs that address their risks and needs in the least restrictive environment necessary.


 Agencies should take steps to encourage 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.