Located in the basement of a church in Jamaica, QUEST—Queens Engagement Strategies for Teens—is a community-based program that provides an alternative to detention for youth who have open delinquency matters pending in Queens Family Court. QUEST provides judges with timely, accurate and comprehensive information regarding young people assigned to the program, and offers meaningful instruction to participants and their families to help young people meet their court obligations and pursue law-abiding lives. Services available through QUEST include homework help and academic assistance, community service, recreational activities, cognitive-behavioral groups, and informational and educational seminars on assorted topics.
How It Works
Swift Assessment: A juvenile arrested for delinquency is evaluated by the New York City Department of Probation using a standardized risk assessment instrument. Based on this assessment, judges in Queens Family Court may assign respondents to QUEST. At this point, the young person and family member(s) meet with a court liaison and other program staff for an orientation.
Community Monitoring: Youth who are enrolled in community monitoring must comply with a curfew determined by the judge and must attend school and all court appearances. Court monitors check rigorously for compliance through daily telephone contact and home visits when necessary.
After-School Supervision: The QUEST after-school supervision component runs year-round, including summer months, and consists of a variety of activities meant to engage and enrich participants, such as chess, basketball, reading groups, computer training, guest speakers, community service, and individual counseling.
Ongoing Case Management and Referrals: QUEST provides case management and referrals to respondents and families who request additional assistance. Building upon information collected during the assessment, a youth counselor meets with participants and families individually and makes additional referrals for services as needed. Families are also invited to attend monthly “family meals” at QUEST where successful participants are acknowledged.
Graduated Sanctions: The QUEST staff is authorized to impose in-house sanctions in response to non-compliance, including required parent conferences at the program site, conferences with school attendance personnel, home visits, and in-house privilege losses.
Better Information: All information concerning a participant’s performance is entered into a case management and compliance tracking system. Reports detailing progress and compliance are prepared and submitted to Court at each court appearance. The goal is to ensure that participants take court requirements seriously.
Outcome Monitoring: QUEST staff conduct a brief exit interview with each participant and/or parents/guardians to collect contact information and record any significant changes since program enrollment. QUEST staff then complete a discharge plan for each successful participant that offers information and referral recommendations for ongoing service needs and referrals. Program and evaluation staff also use the information to monitor outcomes and track program impact.
QUEST serves up to 220 youth annually. To date, 84% of participating youths have complied with court requirements, remain arrest free and have successfully completed the program or have been moved to another community based tier of supervision.
The project is funded by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, the City of New York, the Butler Foundation and the New York Community Trust. The Vera Institute will be performing data collection and analysis for this project and other related projects around the city.