Aligning and optimizing connections between systems to increase effectiveness

Logo for Road Map objective 5 - align systems

icon_alignThe journey to Zero Youth Detention is only possible through close partnership and collaboration with systems such as school districts; child welfare; law enforcement agencies; physical and behavioral health; and housing systems.

Youth with the most complex needs are often involved in multiple systems at the same time. Youth involved in multiple systems share certain characteristics: they are disproportionately youth of color; have strained family connections; have negative educational experiences; live at or below the poverty line; and may have behavioral health needs. When individual requirements and case plans imposed by each system are not coordinated, families and youth can be overburdened. obj5_1

King County and its partners have been reducing the use of secure detention for 20 years. The next reductions in the use of detention will come as a result of intentional collaboration with communities, law enforcement, schools, and the behavioral health system, among other partners. Since most of these systems and entities are not part of King County government, the Road Map highlights the different roles King County can play to bring these systems and communities together to support and advance the strategies and actions outlined in this report.

Stay tuned for the rest of the Diving into the Road Map blog series that will further explore the strategies and action items of this objective:

Objective 5: Align

Align and optimize connections between systems to increase effectiveness

When systems work together, the people they serve benefit. This objective recognizes that youth and families are often served by multiple systems and more can be done between and among systems to better coordinate.


  1. Align systems through partnership, common goals, outcomes and indicators
  2. Utilize data and technology to optimize connections between legal, community, and services systems
  3. Support policy reform that improves the lives of youth, children, and families and reduces legal system involvement

Example Action Items

  • Support, enhance, and expand data sharing between and among King County departments and agencies and community
  • Jointly develop legal system related outcomes for children and youth across King County government executive departments and separately elected entities
  • Support state legislation that provides state funding for youth to access behavioral health services before coming into contact with the juvenile legal system, including adding inpatient behavioral health treatment beds

In the meantime, you can read more about this objective in the Road Map report.