Quarterly Meeting Agenda
Friday, July 18, 2003
Office of Justice Programs
Please note: a picture I.D. is required for admittance.
Quarterly Meeting Summary
July 18, 2003
Office of Justice Programs
This meeting of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention provided members and the public with information on the importance of responding to children with mental health issues, with particular focus on a discussion of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families testimony on voluntary relinquishment of custody issues to the U.S. Congress; the U.S. Department of Education's After School program, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers; and the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's Juvenile Justice Gang Initiative.
U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)
American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys
Executive Office for Weed and Seed, OJP
U.S. Department of Education (ED)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Children's Bureau, Administration for Children and Families
Family Services Bureau
U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)
U. S. Department of Transportation
Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)
Welcome and Introductions
Robert Flores, Vice Chair, Coordinating Council, Administrator, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), welcomed participants to the Quarterly Meeting of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Mr. Flores announced that Lee Kessler, Program Director, National Endowment for the Arts, is recovering from major surgery and that the Coordinating Council will send its wishes for her speedy recovery.
On July 17, 2003, Mr. Flores and Dr. Susan Orr, Associate Commissioner, Children's Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, testified before the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs about the issue of voluntary relinquishment of custody. Voluntary relinquishment of custody has occurred for thousands of parents who are unable to pay for needed mental health services for their children. Mr. Flores suggested that the Coordinating Council further explore and focus on the significant risk mental health issues pose for juveniles. OJJDP has a number of efforts that focus on drugs, alcohol, and mental health issues and would like to coordinate these efforts with other ongoing Federal efforts to weave a safety net for young people.
Presentation: Mental Health Issues for Children
A recent General Accounting Office (GAO) report on the relinquishment issue identified a nationwide problem of misinformation for parents without resources and who do not know where to go with a troubled child. In most States, there are situations when parents believe they must relinquish custody of their children to get the necessary mental health treatment for their children. Children are either surrendered to child welfare or juvenile justice and, unfortunately, there is a perception on the part of these parents that there are significant Federal restrictions that require that outcome. These restrictions do not exist, but there continues to be a large disconnect between the perception and reality. Usually in voluntary relinquishment, a parent/agency agreement is developed; if the State discovers abuse or neglect, the placement goes from voluntary to involuntary placement.
Title 4E of the Social Security Act, a possible source of funding for services for these children, is the most restrictive categorical funding stream possible. Dollars may only be tapped at the State level if a child is removed from the home. The Bush Administration is working on legislation that will allow States to choose an option to make that categorical funding stream flexible.
There are half a million children in foster care, a percentage of whom are voluntarily relinquished children--who rarely get the mental health services they need. HHS is now looking at performance-based measures in addition to process measures to safeguard their needs. HHS has developed safety, permanency, and well-being measures for foster children. HHS's Administration on Children and Families (ACF) has funded continuum of care demonstrations for States so they can supplement services identified by ACF.
Vernadette Broyles, Public Policy Legal Counsel, We Care America, asked how parents can enter the Federal system for help. Dr. Orr responded that there is not a Federal system, but rather the Federal government supports the State programs. States have several options, including accessing Medicaid through waivers.
Michael Mahoney, Vice Chair, Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, congratulated HHS, particularly the work of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), and OJJDP on their work that focuses on mental health issues for children in institutions. Work in that regard in Chicago has led to State-funded community-based services at detention centers. It would make sense to provide 4E services before youth go into training programs. Dr. Orr said that would require legislative change.
Mr. Flores noted that it does not make sense to put children who are severely depressed or acting out in detention centers. The economic cost is very high as well. He asked that the Coordinating Council refer the issue to the Family Health Subcommittee to develop specific recommendations to motivate State governments to elevate the importance of mental health issues and administer associated grant funds. A motion to that effect was made, seconded, and passed.
The Honorable Gordon Martin, Associate Justice, Massachusetts Trial Court, District Court, asked that the Coordinating Council membership receive copies of the GAO report on relinquishment of custody.
Presentation: After School Programs
In 1997, the U.S. Department of Education (ED), working in partnership with the C.S. Mott Foundation, established the 21st Center Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC), with a goal to develop high quality afterschool enrichment opportunities and make them available to inner-city and rural students and communities. The impetus for the program came from a Congressman from a rural district who worked to make the schools function as community resources in areas with limited resources. The program grew exponentially from $1 million to $1 billion, receiving many more requests from eligible applicants than could be funded. By 2002, 21st CCLC programs were serving 1.2 million children and 400,000 adults in 6,800 schools in nearly 1,600 communities.
Services were varied--in some sites, children did homework, others focused on sports or academics, and some included tutoring by volunteers--but all provided a safe, secure place for children after school. When the No Child Left Behind legislation passed, the program underwent some fundamental changes to focus on academics.
The reauthorized 21st CCLC programs focused on academic enrichment activities for students in high-poverty and low-performing schools to help students meet State and local standards, an array of additional services to complement academic programs, and literacy and related educational development services to the families of children who are in the program. This program also became a State program under which States receive Federal dollars on a formula basis. As of this writing, all States have run competitions under the new 21st CCLC program, and all have made their first awards--just under 1,000 grants that average $325,000, compared to $525,000 in the previous program. Grantees are primarily school districts, but some grants have been awarded to community- or faith-based organizations.
Mr. Conaty also reported on a rigorous evaluation study conducted by Mathematica, " When Schools Stay Open Late: The National Evaluation of the 21st-Century Community Learning Centers Programs" that found that the 21st CCLC programs may not be serving children most effectively. Academic services were found to be haphazard and of low quality. Children, particularly older youth, did not regularly attend the programs. As a result of the study, ED and its other partners will provide extensive training and support to improve the quality of afterschool programs and to ensure that they are effective. This study determined that effective afterschool programs need to offer activities that are exciting and engaging and reinforce academic learning. Content matter and activities need to feel and look different from schoolwork. Trained staff who know how to challenge and encourage children are important to the success of these programs.
Over the next few months, ED will offer technical assistance and training--a followup to ED's After School Summit, hosted by Arnold Schwarznegger--that will focus on research-based, promising and exemplary activities and help program directors and staff to understand what the most important aspects of after school programs should be and how to evaluate them.
Larry Brendtro, President, Circles of Courage, asked what impact after school programs had on the high levels of delinquency during after school hours. In some cases, an increase in misbehavior was indicated by the self reporting of drug abuse (a finding that may cause disagreement because it was based on an assessment of immature programs). Mr. Conaty said that this was one of the most controversial findings of the study.
Richard Morris, Youth Specialist, Department of Labor (DOL), asked to what extent the lack of adult engagement influenced the youth who self selected to leave the program. DOL's Workforce Investment requires the involvement of caring adults. He also noted that youth leadership is critical and must be integral to the program. Mr. Conaty agreed, saying that the most effective programs were designed by young people who subsequently recruited other young people to serve as mentors.
Ms. Broyles suggested that afterschool programs used to occur in the home with parents and asked if there was any effort to provide outreach to the public about the consequences of not being available to children after school. Mr. Conaty said that ED does a great deal of outreach on the issue of latchkey kids and the consequences of children coming home to an empty house.
In response to a question about where 21st CCLC grants are awarded, Mr. Conaty said that the States have made some awards to faith-based organizations (FBOs), but a high percentage go to school districts. FBOs have been very active in afterschool programs and continue to be partners with the program.
Mr. Flores suggested that representatives from ED meet with the Education Subcommittee to discuss what programs could work in tandem. For example, Weed and Seed and the Anti-Gang Initiative could work with the 21st CCLC--6,800 21st CCLC sites represent 6,800 distribution channels for OJJDP materials for youth. He also noted another potential partner could be the President's Council on Physical Fitness to meet youth needs for exercise and physical activity. Harry Wilson, Associate Commissioner Family Services Bureau, HHS, noted that an epidemic of childhood obesity is apparent and suggested that ED should include health components in its approach to afterschool programs.
Judge Martin noted that at the Coordinating Council's March retreat the issue of zero tolerance in school had been discussed. While zero tolerance sounds good, the reality is that abandoning children to the streets is harmful. He suggested the Coordinating Council look at legislative avenues to address this issue--perhaps mirroring the Federal highway funding approach that is dependent on a State's compliance with Federally-mandated speed limits. Mr. Brendtro added that a measure of a school's excellence could be its holding power or its ability to hold onto its students.
Herb Drake, Chief, GREAT Branch, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said the GREAT program uses police officers as caring adults in many afterschool environments and has recently developed a family component with FBOs and community mental health services. GREAT has 1,600 agencies with officers involved in the program, and 2,500 school resource officers who interface with youth. As curriculum was developed, GREAT utilized ED's State Standards of Learning and incorporated decisionmaking, life skills, and conflict resolution into the curriculum.
Presentation: OJJDP Gang Initiative and Mapping
The goal of the Gang Initiative is to reduce youth gang crime and violence in communities through the integrated application of proven practices in prevention, intervention, and suppression. A key observation and driving program concept is the knowledge that criminal street gangs are the most visible cause and the most visible result of extreme social and economic distress in the most disadvantaged communities. This initiative takes a broad-brush approach that includes prenatal care, truancy prevention, and job programs because prevention is core to the effort.
This program is a comprehensive slate of prevention, intervention, and suppression programs that integrates related programs across risk domains and age groups and is coordinated through a single point of coordination (POC). The Gang Initiative identifies the best research-based programs and applies them across all appropriate age ranges and risk domains and across traditional agency boundaries. In the process, this program identifies overlapping or underutilized services and service gaps and asks communities to identify plans to fill gaps and identify and leverage resources. A single POC in each State is responsible for integrating and coordinating services. Pilot sites must demonstrate citizen involvement, existing local resources, and government investment. OJJDP wants to ensure significant local buy-in and sustainability from communities that want to solve their own problems.
The Gang Initiative seeks coordination and integration in two directions: vertically--Federal, State, and local; and horizontally--across communities and program types. This initiative contains five elements--primary and secondary prevention, gang intervention and suppression, and reentry.
Mr. Slowikowski discussed the role of mapping, a technology tool that enhances the ability to meet the goals of the gang reduction program by mapping community resources and needs. Using software that overlays geographic information with many other types of data, mapping provides a visual depiction of where juveniles live and go to school and how they correlate with programs from OJJDP, Drug Free Communities, Safe Schools Healthy Students, YMCAs and Boys and Girls Clubs, faith- and community-based organizations, and schools. The goal is to identify the location of resources, needs, and where to add to and connect them.
Demonstration sites will be geographically small, comprising a few square miles or a single ZIP Code, in Los Angeles, California; Richmond, Virginia; Miami, Florida; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mr. Slowikowski asked the Coordinating Council to assist in this comprehensive resource analysis by identifying the agency resources that exist at the pilot sites.
Mr. Morris asked why there were no rural areas included in the initiative. Mr. Flores responded that very little money to fund additional sites was available and that Indian Country and Puerto Rico had not been included. A significant amount of funding will be devoted to data collection and evaluation. Mr. Morris offered access to the many evaluations performed by DOL and said that DOL evaluators visit many similar sites and could simply add questions relating to juvenile justice.
Ms. Broyles asked if and how a private sector group could work with the Gang Initiative, suggesting that there are many small, private groups who may not be known to local officials. To many of these small groups, government is a black box--where is the entry point for them? Mr. Wyrick said faith- and community-based groups could be approached through local leadership as the initiative unfolds and that OJJDP will ensure that news of the program is widely disseminated.
Cheryl Neverman, Safety Specialist, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), U.S. Department of Transportation, suggested that it would be helpful to broaden the definition of the initiative so other agencies can legitimately participate within the parameters of their own missions. For example, gang activity is not a high priority for NHTSA, but if it was identified as a risk or needs assessment, it would better fit the agency's core mission.
Judge Martin, noted that the Department of Agriculture (AG) is an underused resource in this regard. AG representatives prepared a detailed map of resources in Roxbury, Massachusetts, for the court's use. Mr. Wilson offered OJJDP a tour and access to HHS's mapping software and mapmaking abilities at its Bioterrorism Control Center.
Building on earlier remarks on the importance of keeping kids in school, Mr. Brendtro urged the Coordinating Council to encourage schools to become truly responsible for leaving no child behind. He said that the best gang prevention program we have is school. Judge Martin suggested that the council develop language on this issue through the Education Subcommittee. He also asked that a superintendent of schools from the Washington, D.C., area be invited to participate in a meeting of the Education Subcommittee.
Mr. Flores asked that council members act as POCs to provide information for the Gang Initiative mapping effort and that they give special consideration to awarding those sites.
Mr. Flores asked the Coordinating Council to authorize a letter that recommends funding for the Bureau of Justice Statistics to pay for the cost of transitioning the National Crime Victimization Survey from a pencil and paper format to an electronic format. A motion to do so was made, seconded, and passed. The Coordinating Council will meet on November 13 and 14, 2003. Mr. Flores thanked the Council members and guests for their participation and comments and adjourned the meeting.