Member Spotlight: Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC)

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Below is CJJ's August Member Spotlight, which appeared in the August JJ Monitor

The Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) is the operational arm of the Kentucky Judicial Branch. The Kentucky AOC has earned a national reputation for many of its initiatives including Family Court, Drug Court, judicial center facilities, judicial education, pretrial services, juvenile justice reform, court interpreting services, and diversity awareness. The AOCs Department of Family & Juvenile Services (FJS) is dedicated to improving the lives of children and families involved in Kentucky’s juvenile justice and child welfare systems. FJS provides direct services to children and families and offers education, programming and technical support to judges and court personnel who handle juvenile and family law cases. The Court Designated Worker (CDW) Program is a pre-court process where CDWs process complaints filed against youth under age 18 before any action is taken in formal court, which gives the opportunity to help thousands of juveniles every year. When appropriate, young people are diverted from the formal court system. The goal of diversion is to reduce further involvement in the court system. Kentucky is excited to pilot a new diversion case plan to assure diversion are implemented proactively. In 2023, CDW staff attended Case Plan Trainings and learned how the Principles of Effective Intervention and Cognitive Interaction Skills are connected to effective case management. CDWs navigated the characteristics of an effective case plan, developed confidence in writing case plans that concentrate on criminogenic needs, discussed how to review case plans, and revise their components, honed their active listening skills, and were given a chance to practice developing case plans. By implementing diversion to target key criminogenic risk factors through the Principles of Effective Intervention model, CDWs create an individualized case to address criminogenic needs and promote prosocial changes. The new case plan diversion is currently being piloted in identified counties with the expectation for state implementation rollout in 2024.


The AOC also supports the Racial, Ethnic, and Equity Disparities (REED) initiatives to address persistent problems with disproportionality, and focus efforts on reducing racial and ethnic disparities within the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. The AOC has long recognized the presence of racial and ethnic disparities within the court system and has been striving to address those disparities over the last decade. In 2014, the AOC began to identify the racial and ethnic disparities that affect how the Kentucky court system fulfills its constitutional and statutory duties. The goal was to significantly improve outcomes for minorities by institutionalizing systemic change. Data from the AOCs statewide programs clearly shows how racial and ethnic disparities affect all aspects of the court system. When the AOC identified the presence of disparities, it initiated efforts to address the disparate outcomes for minority populations served by the court system. The AOC highlights its journey to culture change with local court jurisdictions and other organizations in the development of A Guide for Identifying, Addressing and Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities. The guide outlines the methods used to reduce disparities within the court system and explains how to identify disparities, construct strategies to address them, institutionalize effective changes and reevaluate progress for continuous quality improvement. FJS plans to replicate this model in moving forward toward a court system committed to implementing practices that reduce or eliminate race, ethnic, and equity disparities. For more information on any of Kentucky’s initiatives please contact Rachel Bingham at