Archive for December, 2012


Dec 18 2012

Interview with Shay Bilchik

by at 8:28 am

Director Shay Bilchik of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) – the first Georgetown Public Policy Institute (GPPI) research center to be featured at the annual LEAD Conference – recently talked with us about the youth-related topics that will be covered at the event and what he hopes people will gain from this conference on at-risk youth.

1. What are some of the youth-related issues that will be highlighted at the event?

The LEAD Conference will focus on a variety of children’s issues, including education, health and welfare across different age spans – early childhood, childhood and adolescence. On the first day, the topical areas will be explored from the perspective of how we can utilize strategies to prevent children and youth from going “off-track,” as well help them get back on track if needed. We will close the first day with a family panel that will gesture towards the necessary systemic changes that will be discussed on the next day.

The second day will take youth-related issues to a policy and system level. Among the questions to be discussed are: What are the challenges and necessary actions to be taken on behalf of this population at the federal and state levels? How can leaders use evidence and messaging to shape issues surrounding at-risk youth in a positive and proactive way? How can partnerships be developed to push this work forward? The last panel on this day will pull practice and policy together by highlighting innovative community collaborations that have demonstrated success in meeting the needs of at-risk children and youth.

2. Are there any themes that tie together this year’s LEAD Conference on at-risk youth?

The most important theme is that a comprehensive, collaborative approach is needed to support the healthy development of at-risk children and youth. Additionally, the conference will highlight the importance of early intervention, but also stress that it is never too late to help a child or a family. Other themes include family engagement, the role of data in driving reform efforts, and systemic changes needed to institutionalize best practices – both from the top-down and bottom-up.

3. Why was the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform selected to be highlighted at the inaugural LEAD Conference?

Each year, the LEAD Conference will highlight important policy issues currently explored in-depth by GPPI faculty and/or a GPPI research center. The selected faculty and/or research center will then help shape the conference agenda and content to showcase the work of GPPI through their lens. In this instance, CJJR was selected to be the first research center highlighted given our experience hosting large events and convening diverse groups on campus. Moreover, CJJR’s emphasis on comprehensive, multi-system strategies to addressing youth-related challenges allows us to provide the framework for a national-level conference that will prove relevant and valuable to a broad audience. The focus of the conference will go beyond CJJR’s own work to feature a number of other GPPI faculty members focusing on children’s issues who will be presenting at the conference.

4. To what extent will the sessions feature CJJR’s own research/work?

CJJR’s work focuses on a multi-system, multi-domain approach in helping young people achieve positive outcomes in their lives – both preventing their involvement in the juvenile justice system, as well as improving the system’s response to delinquency when it does occur. This body of work, therefore, naturally intersects the main themes and areas of exploration of the conference as a whole. For example, the challenges of working with Crossover Youth (those dually involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems) will be addressed. There will be many speakers at the conference who have been involved with our various program areas, and will be able to speak about that work in their remarks.

5. What are you most looking forward to at the conference?

I am looking forward to the convening of an amazing group of leaders as presenters at the LEAD Conference. Policymakers, practitioners, researchers, and advocates at the very top of their fields will be participating in this conference as speakers on panels. It will be an exceptional gathering of “talent”! I also very much look forward to the two keynote presentations. Sonja Sohn, as our opening keynote, will present the audience with a powerful personal story and her insights into how best to support our disadvantaged children, youth, and families on a pathway to improved life outcomes. And Mark Shriver, as our closing keynote, will share the vision of a society coming together in support of our most disadvantaged populations of young people, and how that has taken hold at Save the Children. Finally, I look forward to seeing so many of our friends and colleagues who will be attending the conference. We draw an incredible array of individuals who are doing remarkable work in their own communities, yet who are always striving to learn more about how they can do better.

6. In terms of youth-related reform and progress, what do you hope to accomplish through this conference?

I expect that the policymakers and practitioners in the room will learn a great deal about the specific reforms that they can implement when they return home to promote a more comprehensive approach to promoting positive outcomes for youth. In the case of researchers, advocates, and students, I expect that they will be able to utilize the lessons learned at the conference to focus on these practices and policies in their research and advocacy efforts. My goal is that each participant takes home two or three actionable ideas that help make them better at what they do in their work.


About Shay Bilchik: Shay Bilchik is the founder and Director of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute. Prior to joining Georgetown University on March 1, 2007, Shay was the President and CEO of the Child Welfare League of America, a position he held from February of 2000. Prior to his tenure at CWLA, Shay was the Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) in the U.S. Department of Justice, where he advocated for and supported a balanced and multi-systems approach to attacking juvenile crime and addressing child victimization. Before coming to the nation’s capital, Shay Bilchik was an Assistant State Attorney in Miami, Florida from 1977-1993, where he served as a trial lawyer, juvenile division chief, and Chief Assistant State Attorney.

The Georgetown Public Policy Review recently published an interview with Shay Bilchik on crossover youth issues. The text of the interview can be found here. For additionally information, please visit the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform’s website.

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