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Southwest Key Youth Justice Program

The Youth Justice Program at Southwest Key is based on the core principle that positive change can happen though therapeutic, educational and community-based programs. By providing alternatives to children who are involved in the court system, Southwest Key enables them to stay at home with their families and involved in their communities.

At Southwest Key, young men and women are provided with structure and services that promote positive behaviors and experiences. Our caseworkers partner with the family to address the individual, family and social issues, such as helping parents improve their chances of employment, finding childcare for a sibling, and helping with the transition back home from an institution. Our programs keep track of the progress youth are making while we hold them accountable for their actions. These components work together to set the foundation for success, now and tomorrow.

The Southwest Key Difference

At Southwest Key, our breadth of experience allows us to create program models with appropriate components to fit the specific needs of our clients - your community - providing the greatest opportunity for success. The following are some examples of common challenges faced by communities for which we can provide solutions.

  • Truancy
  • Mental health concerns
  • Family Conflict
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Disciplinary problems at school
  • Alternatives to detention and incarceration
Former Tracking Client Taylor with her mom

Here are some of the ways Southwest Key works to achieve success for kids and their families:

  • Partnering with kids and their parents to overcome obstacles they face that may be contributing to a youth's behavior
  • Coaching youth and families to develop a sense of empowerment and self-sufficiency, as well as mentoring youth to encourage positive behaviors and risk avoidance
  • Availability of staff during non-traditional hours, home visits, and working around the family's schedule - day or night
  • Working with kids to become the best version of themselves and not defining them by their challenges and past actions
  • Serving communities in which we operate by developing the workforce there and recruiting employees from it
  • Providing a full continuum of service including intensive clinical services, case management, electronic monitoring, mentoring and reentry
Youth Mentoring Client with mentee

Proven Concepts

Southwest Key integrates proven concepts such as Trauma Informed Care and Positive Youth Development into our program models, all of which are developed with consideration of the following research-informed trends:

  • Community-based service as an alternative to out of home placement
  • Supportive, timely crisis intervention and stabilization contribute to youth, family and community safety and resilience
  • Effective family and system engagement contributes to improved outcomes for youth

Various combinations of the following components are included in our program models, and can be customized to meet your needs:

  • Individual, family, and group counseling
  • Mentoring
  • Monitoring and supervision
  • Wraparound case management
  • Reentry support
  • Alternative educational support and advocacy
  • Alternative schools
  • Telecounseling
  • Cultural and gender-specific services

"We had already reduced our commitment rate by 43%, but we were stuck. Southwest Key has helped us reduce the commitment rates an additional 40%. When we thought, it was impossible to do it, they helped us do it." - Chief Judge Steven C. Teske, Clayton County Juvenile Court, Georgia

Program Models

Here are a few of our program models:


Selected as a Best Practice Model by the Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), Family Keys is an early prevention and intervention model designed to keep status offenders from becoming formally involved with the juvenile justice system. This model focuses on behaviors like running away, curfew violations, and truancy by combining principles of wraparound case management and crisis intervention to create a holistic approach to guiding youth and families. Case managers make face-to-face contact within 24-72 hours of receiving a referral and are available 24/7 for crisis intervention and conflict resolution. All services meet families where they are in their homes or communities, and staff provide discharge and aftercare support to ensure families have a natural support network (neighbors, teachers, extended family, community centers) to thrive after exiting the program. Southwest Key operates four Family Keys programs in Texas and two in New York. FAMILY KEYS FACTSHEET (PDF)  STATUS OFFENDER DIVERSION FACTSHEET (PDF)


Mi Hermana’s Keeper Toolkit is based on the Family Keys Program designed by Southwest Key. Selected as a Best Practice Model by the Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), Family Keys is an early prevention and intervention model designed to keep youth from becoming formally involved with the juvenile justice system. Learn More.


The Community Connections program model integrates concepts of Wraparound and Positive Youth Development to support youth who have been adjudicated delinquent and are considered at risk for out-of-home placement or are scheduled to return home within one month of program enrollment. Program services include 24-hour crisis intervention, evening monitoring, clinical assessment and support, youth and family-driven service planning, linkages to community resources, skill development and care coordination. As a key component of this service model, Southwest Key coordinates Youth and Family Support Teams that meet regularly to create, implement, and monitor a Youth and Family Service Plan designed to address the unique needs of each youth and family. Southwest Key’s Community Connection model is currently being evaluated in a 4-year study.

YJ PD Meeting Atlanta 2014


This evidence-based program is effective with medium to high risk youth who have behavioral issues, substance abuse, or delinquent behavior. Highly respectful of the family and its dynamics, licensed clinicians meet clients weekly in their home and bring parents and siblings together to help the entire household strengthen their ability to solve problems and work together. The program is designed to divert youth from out-of-home placement and lasts an average of 4 months for 15 sessions. FFT FACTSHEET (PDF)


In 1996 Southwest Key opened its first Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program (JJAEP) in Texas for students who have not succeeded in traditional school environments. This program works to recreate the expelled student’s view of educators, create positive relationships with adult role models, and focus on a student’s strengths. We prevent hundreds of youth from dropping out of school each year by providing them with full-day individualized education in a therapeutic setting with small class sizes, case management services to address the needs of the whole family, daily group counseling, recreation, support transitioning back to the student’s home school, and credit recovery and GED services, if needed. Southwest Key currently operates 6 JJAEPs throughout Texas.

Back of T-shirt


The Southwest Key Youth Mentoring Program is currently a grantee of OJJDP’s Multi-State Mentoring Program with sites in San Jose, CA, Austin, TX, Atlanta, GA, Milwaukee, WI and Buffalo, NY. We work with youth on probation or at-risk of probation that are not typically served by mentoring organizations. The goal is to establish mentoring relationships that have a long-lasting, positive impact. Clients are matched with mentors from throughout the community for a minimum of one year. Our unique mentoring model involves an extensive screening and matching process, monthly structured group outings, and monthly mentor support sessions and trainings with a focus on parent engagement, school support and case management for clients YOUTH MENTORING FACTSHEET (PDF)

Watch Interviews with Southwest Key Youth Mentoring Program Participants 

Apply to Be a Youth Mentor

Miguel F. is fixing up an old cruiser bike with his mentor Gabriel Cruz-Letelier at The Yellow Bike Project.


Designed to operate as an alternative to detention while awaiting court date or as a sanction for pre-and post-adjudicated youth. For 30 to 60 day of programming, our case managers take a team approach to care coordination and provide structured support and supervision, advocacy, and crisis intervention. Program includes two, daily, face-to-face and telephone contacts. TREATMENT FACTSHEET (PDF)

Youth Justice Key Contacts

If you are interested in bringing youth justice alternatives to your community, we look forward to hearing from you. Email a member of our Youth Justice national leadership team below, or contact us at:

EMAIL: [email protected]
PHONE: 844-568-0771

Reporters and news media inquiries, please contact [email protected]