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Step 2 - Assess Probation Department’s Readiness to Implement the Dosage Probation Model

The dosage probation model necessitates a probation department with deep knowledge and skill in the implementation of evidence-based practices. However, previous pilot efforts suggest that exposure to EBP is insufficient. Strong, active leadership and an infrastructure designed to ensure fidelity and continuous quality assurance are also critical. Part 2 of the assessment is intended to determine if the probation department is well positioned to effectively implement and sustain the dosage probation model.

Leadership Commitment

  1. Why is leadership interested in adopting the dosage model? Given the amount of effort required to successfully implement this initiative, what is the motivation of leadership to take this on?
  2. Which executive team member(s) would lead the effort? Define what “leading this effort” means in practical, operational terms.
  3. What role does executive leadership envision taking during the planning process? During the implementation process? Describe that role in operational terms, such as how leader­ship would exercise that role day to day.
  4. What, if any, current and/or previous EBP efforts or initiatives speak to leadership’s ability to dedicate themselves to a long-term, collaborative project such as dosage?
  5. How would leadership stay focused on dosage probation when pressures such as legisla­tive changes, grant opportunities, and so on compete for time and attention?

Mid-Level Management

  1. What role do mid-level supervisors play in coaching and mentoring staff around EBP inter­actions? Describe that role in operational terms, especially as it would relate to interactions between supervisors and dosage POs.
  2. If supervisors currently exercise a coaching and mentoring role, to what extent are they comfortable with it? How are they held accountable around it? To what extent are super­visors comfortable with staff coaching other staff in EBP skills?
  3. To what degree are supervisors comfortable with their anticipated role as dosage supervisors?
  4. Is management unionized and, if it is, how might this impact the ability of the department to expand supervisors’ responsibilities, especially around coaching?

Departmental Morale and Organizational Culture

  1. How ready are case management (dosage) staff for a change process? Is there any indica­tion of change fatigue within the department at this time?
  2. What initiatives/efforts has the department undertaken to suggest that the dosage model is appropriate at this time? To what degree would the dosage model represent a significant departure from the way staff currently do their work?
  3. What other initiatives/efforts are underway that would support (or distract from) implemen­tation of the dosage model?
  4. In what ways does the department currently enhance and/or support staff well-being? What policies or practices are in place to reduce fatigue, celebrate/recognize the successes of the department and individual staff, provide staff with a voice in operational matters and policymaking, and so on?
  5. Are non-managerial staff unionized? If they are, how might this impact the ability of the department to expand line staff responsibilities?
  6. Who holds informal leadership among the staff? How can informal leadership be leveraged to support the successful implementation of the dosage model?

Continuous Quality Improvement

  1. Who within the department is responsible for quality assurance (QA) and fidelity of imple­mentation? How is this responsibility carried out? Is this responsibility part of a larger group of tasks or is someone dedicated to QA?
  2. What EBP training do staff routinely receive (e.g., risk assessment, motivational interview­ing, core correctional practices, case planning, cognitive behavioral interventions)? Who provides this training? With what frequency? Are booster courses provided?
  3. Does the department have a coaching infrastructure? Who provides the coaching, with what frequency, and how?
  4. How comfortable are coaches in the performance of their continuous quality improvement (CQI) duties?
  5. How is coaching received by line staff?
  6. How are coaches supported in their efforts? To what degree does an outside expert ensure the integrity of the coaching process?

Data

  1. What data is collected to determine the impact of probation on long-term behavior change? Who uses this data, how, and with what frequency? How is the data shared? What feedback is received about data that is shared?
  2. Is the department able to determine the number of clients who would qualify for dosage proba­tion if a set of parameters was provided (e.g., In CY2018, what were the total number of new intake client cases that (1) were moderate or high risk; and (2) had sentences of 12 months or more; and (3) were non-transient (county residents); and (4) had no prior Class A felonies; and (5) were not diagnosed with a serious mental disorder; and (6) had current charges for some­thing other than DUI, sexual assault, and use of a weapon in the commission of a violent felony)?
  3. Does the department have the capacity to collect and analyze data to determine the effect­iveness of dosage probation?
  4. How has the department historically used data to guide and improve policy and practice? Has a model of data collection, analysis, and sharing been successfully applied in the past that has practical application to the work that would be conducted under this effort?

External Stakeholders

  1. The dosage model anticipates that probation leadership interacts with stakeholders through a policy team process. To what extent does this represent the current way of doing business in the jurisdiction?
  2. What strengths and challenges are associated with establishing a dosage probation stake­holder policy team (or utilizing an existing policy team)?
  3. In what ways and with what frequency does executive leadership interact with system stake­holders (individually and collectively)?
  4. What kind of support or resistance is expected from the stakeholders who are essential to the dosage model (i.e., judges, prosecutors/deputies, public and private defense, law enforcement, victim advocates, local legislators, service providers)?

Implementation of Evidence-Based Practices

Assessment

  1. Does the department use empirically based risk/needs assessments? Which assessments? When and how were the assessments implemented? Have they been locally validated? By whom?
  2. How is risk/need assessment data used?
  3. When in the criminal justice process are the risk/needs assessments used (i.e., pre- sentence/post-sentence)? Are assessment results shared with external stakeholders? With whom/when/how?

Caseload/Workload

  1. How are clients assigned to staff? Are caseloads differentiated by risk (“low risk” case­loads, “moderate–high risk” caseloads, etc.)?
  2. Are caseloads capped? What is the average caseload size (by caseload type)? If caseloads are not capped, could they be?
  3. With what frequency do staff have contact with moderate risk clients? High risk clients?

Case Planning and Management

  1. Do staff use case plans? What is their purpose? How are case plans developed? What do they contain? How frequently are they reviewed with clients?
  2. Describe a “typical” staff–client appointment in terms of its:
    1. Length
    2. Structure and flow
    3. Use of skill practice
    4. Use of take-home assignments/skill practice.
  3. Do staff have available to them cognitive behavioral tools/worksheets? Which ones? How often are they used? What kind of training/feedback do staff receive on the use of these tools?
  4. How is client overall progress assessed, and by whom?
  5. Does the department use a system of incentives and rewards? What is it? How consistently is it used across staff? What are the most common prosocial behaviors? What are the most common responses to these behaviors?
  6. Does the department use a structured process for responding to noncompliant behavior? What is it? How consistently is it used across staff? What are the most common noncompliant behaviors? What are the most common responses to these behaviors?
  7. How do staff make referrals to risk-reducing interventions (either inhouse or community based)? What process is in place to ensure that clients are placed with service providers well positioned to successfully address clients’ risk reduction needs?
  8. How do supervising officers currently communicate with service providers? How often do supervising officers and service providers discuss client progress? Do staff typically initiate communication or do providers? How does communication take place (e.g., phone, email, fax, onsite visits)? Are there specific circumstances under which communication routinely occurs?