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  SAC Spotlight:  Minnesota

Innovative Strategies

The MNSAC is funded through the annual Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) State Justice Statistics Program and Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) Byrne/Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) funding. The MNSAC does not receive any state funding for specific projects. For this reason, the MNSAC has had to develop innovative strategies to complete needed projects without additional funding. This has primarily been accomplished through strategic collaborations and the use of technology.

Online Surveys
The MNSAC used online survey technology to complete the three-year-long project to evaluate state-funded Youth Intervention Programs (YIP), a collective of youth programs which are supported, in part, by specific funding set aside by the Minnesota Legislature. YIP funding is broad and provides a variety of services to youth at various levels of risk and involvement in the juvenile justice system. In light of program diversity and challenges in demonstrating program effects, the state Office of Justice Programs designed a survey to assess program effects on youth participant attitudes and behaviors. Between January 2010 and July 2012, YIP-funded programs administered over 4,600 pre-program surveys and 2,100 post-program surveys to program participants. With no additional funding, the MNSAC was able to leverage the online survey tool to provide over 50 diverse programs with a standard, easy-to-administer, and confidential pre and post assessment to be completed by their clients. Using this online tool allowed our small SAC to economically gather, clean, and analyze a large volume of data.

Private Sector Collaboration
The MNSAC relies on effective collaboration to increase the capacity of our staff to complete important projects. For example, funding for a statewide victimization survey has not been available since 2002. In 2007, the MNSAC received a call from Greater Twin Cities United Way (GTCUW) seeking permission to use several questions from the tool developed in 2002 to assess the extent of domestic violence in Minnesota. The MNSAC recognized this as an opportunity to complete a comprehensive crime victimization survey in the state. Through a collaborative partnership, GTCUW agreed to pay for the administration of a crime victimization survey (not just a survey focused on domestic violence) and the MNSAC agreed to do all data analysis and report writing in exchange for access to the data. This collaboration resulted in two successful administrations of a statewide survey.

Collaboration was also necessary to complete the No Wrong Door: Providing Safe Harbor to Minnesota's Sexually Exploited Youth report. The state of Minnesota was in the midst of a government shutdown when the Safe Harbor legislation mandating this report was passed in the summer of 2011. A stipulation of this legislation was that there could be no fiscal cost to the state to develop the statewide, victim-centered approach to working with sexually exploited youth. Recognizing the importance of this work, the Women's Foundation of Minnesota agreed to fund the Office of Justice Programs to convene a series of meetings, which lead to the development of this innovative, comprehensive victim services model for sexually exploited youth.

Interagency Collaboration
The MNSAC also collaborates extensively with the Minnesota Departments of Human Services, Education, and Health to complete the Minnesota Student Survey. While the MNSAC makes no monetary contribution to the MSS project, we agree to be an active member of the core research team that guides the development and administration of the actual survey. This collaboration also provides the MNSAC with invaluable information we could not otherwise obtain, that we ultimately use to educate and assist juvenile justice stakeholders. MNSAC has also participated in interagency collaborations related to DMC, positive youth development, and trauma-informed care.

SAC/University Partnerships
Finally, as small SAC we often rely on interns to provide much needed assistance with research and policy related projects. The MNSAC has developed relationships with local universities that recognize our ability to provide a unique and educational internship experience for Master's level students.

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