Youth Services Insider: Complete Analysis of OJJDP 2015 Funding

It’s October in Washington, which in recent history means two things are happening: the Redskins are at the bottom of the NFC East, and all of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention funding has been announced!

OJJDP announced about $251 million in funding this year and, as always, we’re here to break it down as best we can.

Following are general categories of funding priorities for OJJDP, along with each of the specific programs and the total amount for each priority. YSI counts training and technical assistance as a category, which admittedly saps some dollars that could be listed in other priority areas.

Reform

Programs:

Total: $9,500,226

Notes: The majority of those invited awards went to two causes. One was reform of family drug courts, which actually have little to do with juveniles. They are meant to work with parents accused of neglect or abuse where a root cause is substance abuse on the part of the adults.

The other is the National Building Community Trust initiative, a final pet project of former Attorney General Eric Holder that has been spun into its own entity.

This is the Justice Department’s most tangible reaction to several well-publicized killings of black men by police, and its director is Tracie Keesee, the co-founder for the Center on Policing Equity.

The initiative will focus on six sites: Stockton, Calif.; Gary, Ind.; Pittsburgh, Penn.; Fort Worth, Texas; Birmingham, Ala.; and Minneapolis. These sites have signed on to engage the initiative on three main points of improvement:

Reconciliation: Frank conversations between the community and police.

Procedural justice: Work with law enforcement on how interactions shape public willingness to obey the law.

Implicit bias: Discussion on how unconscious thought processes on the part of law enforcement lead to racially disparate outcomes.

So: Worth the money or window-dressing to show that Justice had a reaction to those deaths? Of course, it will be some years before we know.

Among the more juvenile-specific reform grants:

  • $500,000 to the International Association of Chiefs of Police to get law enforcement more involved in juvenile justice reform.
  • Reentry improvement projects at the state level in North Carolina, Iowa and Virginia.
  • Small grants to Washington, Indiana, Kentucky and Delaware to improve the quality and availability of juvenile defenders.

Training and Technical Assistance

Programs:

Total: $21,009,880

Notes: Pretty standard year for training and technical assistance, after a few years of tumult and shuffling. The invited awards include continuation grants to last year’s recipients.

The Smart on Juvenile Justice initiative shifts focus from broader reform to indigent defense this year. The National Juvenile Defender Center gets the $1.2 million for overall training and technical assistance. The $900,000 for juvenile defender resource centers will be split by two groups: The Mid-Atlantic Juvenile Defender Center at Georgetown University, and the Colorado Juvenile Defender Center.

The $900,000 grant for training prosecutors on better prosecution of child abuse cases went to the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. Last time it was up for competition, in 2012, the National District Attorneys Association won. Uh-oh, it’s gonna be awkward at next summer’s softball game!

Research and Evaluation

Programs:

Total: $8,195,313

Notes: Urban Institute gets $500,000 for what in our opinion is the most interesting new project this year. The institute will pore over recent juvenile justice research and outline the places in which that body of research has not affected changes in policy.

One we’ll be interested in: family-involved drug treatment, identified as among the few effective strategies for curbing recidivism among serious juvenile offenders. Several researchers have lamented to YSI that this revelation has not spurred much of an increase in actual investment in the strategy.

The University of New Hampshire gets just over $200,000 to finish off the National Survey on Children Exposed to Violence. The final step will be to fold three different years of data (2008, 2011, 2014) into one sample large enough to work with.

Another exciting venture: The $750,000 going to Cal State-Los Angeles to establish a “method to generate a national estimate of dually-involved youth,” which refers to those kids who are involved in both the delinquency and dependency side of the court.

National estimates are somewhat overrated in that they refer to a population that nobody has real jurisdiction over.

In this case, establishing a national figure would be a good first step. For those advocates or stakeholders who feel like lots of foster youth are getting caught up in the juvenile justice system, this would set a baseline for comparison.

Mentoring

Programs:

Total: $77,564,242

Notes: Collaborative mentoring is a term we had never seen before. Eligible applicants must be part of a network of three to five mentoring organizations, and under the grant would have to guarantee no overlap in clientele. Multi-state grantees could be part of the network, but national mentoring entities would be ineligible.

We would have assumed Big Brothers Big Sisters of America affiliates counted as part of a national group, but not the case. Two of the four winning networks were led by a Big Brothers affiliate (Greater Wyoming, and Metro Atlanta).

Is it possible that the $500,000 foster youth mentoring grant to Friends of the Children (FOTC) is the Portland, Ore. organization’s first OJJDP mentoring grant? It is, according to Justice Department’s online records.

The organization was founded in 1993 by timber tycoon Duncan Kennedy and his childhood friend Oran Bolstad, who is a child psychologist. FOTC pairs youths with paid professional mentors, and expanded over the last decade with some philanthropic help from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation.

A recent study of FOTC, done pro bono by the Harvard Business Association of Oregon, found the program offers a social return on investment 26.8 times its cost.

Community Programs and Reentry

Programs:

Total: $13,476,611

Notes: Five states and Guam got modest funding to help with planning and implementing community supervision services. It looks from the grant descriptions as though some states will hone in on services for youth coming home from placement, and others will focus on not placing certain juveniles to begin with.

The invited projects are mostly grants of $70,000 for violence prevention and gang intervention work, with a few larger grants going to Los Angeles’ Proyecto Palabra ($682,000) and Futures Without Violence (FTV) for the “Defending Childhood National Public Awareness Campaign” ($2 million).

That awareness campaign is centered on a pretty lofty goal: “Help change the public’s perception from children labeled as angry, bad, withdrawn, or acting out, to seeing them as kids who have been hurt and need our help.”

Early evaluation of the Defending Childhood demonstration sites suggest that FTV should work out some sort of pre-arrangement on messaging with OJJDP. The local awareness campaigns were challenged in their use of social media by bureaucratic control from above.

From the evaluation, by the Center for Court Innovation:

In particular, the sites encountered many federal restrictions on publications, distributed materials, social media posts, and public messaging. Many of these had to receive approval from OJJDP before dissemination. This approval process could take anywhere from weeks to months.

In an age where social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube require real-time postings and interactions, this approval process was frustrating and limiting, especially to contracted public relations firms who were not used to working within such restrictions.

As one person put it: “How do we plan ahead for our spontaneous tweets two months from now?”

State Grants

Programs:

Total: $39,033,194

Notes: Current efforts to reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act involve more requirements on the part of participating states, including a phase-out of a key exception to federal standards that allows judges to detain status offenders.

But as the workload behind JJDPA would go up for states, Congress is putting up less money every year as an incentive to participate. This is the recent appropriations history of Title II, the formula grant given to states in exchange for JJDPA compliance:

  • 2003: $70.4 million
  • 2005: $66.8 million
  • 2008: $60.9 million
  • 2011: $51.8 million

This year’s grants come to $38.6 million, and the House has zeroed funding out completely for this in 2016. And this doesn’t even factor in the complete elimination a few years back of the Juvenile Accountability Block Grants, which at one time was an even larger conduit of juvenile justice funds to states than the formula grants.

Here’s a breakdown of the other OJJDP funding streams….

Tribal Youth

Program: Tribal Assistance, Part I and Part II (19 grants, $6,664,141)

Total: $6,664,141

Sex Offender

Program: Youth with Sexual Behavior Problems (2 grants, $600,000)

Total: $600,000

Juvenile Drug Courts

Programs:

Total: $6,000,000

Abuse/Victimization

Programs:

Total: $69,138,441

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

John Kelly
About John Kelly 1135 Articles
John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change.