Quarterly Meeting Agenda
Friday, November 5, 1999
Office of Justice Programs
Please note: a picture I.D. is required for admittance.
Quarterly Meeting Summary
November 5, 1999
United States Capitol Building
"Identifying and Meeting the Needs of the Nation's Girls"
The Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention held its quarterly meeting on Friday, November 5, 1999, from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Mansfield Room of the United States Capitol Building, Washington, DC.
The Honorable Janet Reno, Attorney General, and Chair, Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, welcomed Council members and thanked Senator Ted Stevens, Alaska, for inviting the Council to hold its meeting on Capitol Hill. Attorney General Reno said she owed another debt of gratitude to the Senator for a question he asked earlier in her tenure, when he requested her help on the important "0 to 3" issue, referring to the critical early years in a child's development. She challenged each of the Federal agency representatives to envision how their agency could collectively support the Senator's vision of making effective parents and strengthened families a top priority in this country.
Senator Ted Stevens, Alaska, applauded the Council for applying a coordinated approach to the issue of effective parenting as a delinquency prevention tool. It is the approach needed to address an issue of this scope, he said, an issue that requires the attention of multiple agencies and that of Congress, the administration, State and local government, and America. According to a Rand Corporation study, for every dollar spent to assist parents, the Nation saves $4 later in prison, rehabilitation, welfare, and other costs. The Government Accounting Office (GAO) places that number even higher, reporting that it could be as much as $7.
Senator Stevens said he supports the creation of a national parenting support and education commission to identify best practices in discipline, character development, health, and safety. He also supports the creation of parent support and education block grant programs to assist State and local governments to develop local coordinating councils to address the root causes of juvenile delinquency. If we deal with parenting as a priority now, he said, this work will affect life for our children in the next millennium.
Shay Bilchik, Administrator, OJJDP, and Vice Chair, Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Shay Bilchik, Administrator, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), and Vice Chair, Coordinating Council, thanked Senator Stevens and Attorney General Reno for their support on the parenting issue. The meeting agenda, which normally rotates through a sequence of juvenile justice issues, was adjusted for this meeting to focus on parenting issues. The discussion began with a presentation on the known research about the importance of parenting and its effect in helping to raise law-abiding citizens, a presentation on effective programs in parent training and family strengthening, followed by reports from representatives of the Department of Education (ED), Health and Human Services (HHS), and OJJDP, and an accompanying discussion on potential areas for Federal collaboration.
Betty Chemers, Director, Research and Program Development Division, and Acting Deputy Administrator Discretionary Programs, OJJDP, highlighted some of the major changes that have occurred in the way researchers think about families and delinquency.
The very definition of the family has changed, she said. The percentage of children who live within two-parent families has declined from 77 percent in 1980 to 68 percent in 1996. One in five children live in single-parent households, which breaks down to 24 percent of white children, 36 percent of Hispanic children, and 64 percent of African - American children. Nationally there are 500,000 children in foster care.
Researchers have changed their earlier focus that examined perceived character flaws in the child and have broadened their perspective to include the effects of the larger environment of the family, community, and peers. They have discovered that family dysfunction is a more powerful predictor of delinquency than schools, poverty, or neighborhood factors.
Four major developments have shaped knowledge about family and delinquency:
Rose Alvarado, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor, University of Utah, described the Strengthening America's Families Project, a project to identify model, family-based programs that work and to disseminate these models to practitioners and implement them nationwide.
The program, funded by a partnership between OJJDP and the Center for Substance Abuse (CSAP), HHS, reviewed 500 programs in 1989. Twenty-five model programs were chosen after extensive expert review and showcased at a conference and in two publications. The intent of the program was to bridge the gap between practitioners and academia, and support the marketing of well-researched programs.
In 1995, the program received a new award to update their research. Of the 127 programs nominated, a national panel of experts chose 34 programs that are currently being disseminated by Strengthening America's Families through their Web site, two national conferences, inexpensive regional training workshops, and direct technical assistance. Dr. Alvarado said it is critical that practitioners recreate these model programs with fidelity and with the core components in place. Picking pieces of various programs and merging them does not produce the same level of effectiveness.
The model programs are organized in a matrix, grouped by age; by program type; by program approach-in home, at school, or on CD-ROM, for example; and by user- general populations, high-risk populations, and those in crisis. The programs include a broad range of options to meet the wide diversity of need. They are also categorized based on the underlying research: exemplary programs are based on a high-quality research design with positive findings; model programs include some quasi-experimental research with positive findings; and promising programs have a strong theoretical background with some research that indicates the program is likely to be effective.
Dr. Alvarado briefly described three programs in particular, one that focuses on the family skills training model, another that addresses the needs of the family with a parent in prison, and a third lunch-hour program that focuses on working parents.
Attorney General Reno asked if Dr. Alvarado was aware of any model programs that work within the parameters of the business world-incorporating flextime, shifts, and telecommuting options to give parents more time with their children. Dr. Alvarado was not aware of any program with that particular focus, but agreed that it was an important area to research. Attorney General Reno was also pleased to see re-entry programs included within the model programs to address the needs of the 400,000 to 500,000 parents who will be re-entering their homes and communities from prison.
Federal Parenting Programs
Menahem Herman, Staff Coordinator, Partnership for Family Involvement in Education, reported on the various efforts of ED as that Department works to raise awareness of the importance of the parents' role in education. Thirty years of research shows that children learn more when their parents are involved. The Partnership, initiated in 1994 by Secretary Riley, ED, began with an umbrella organization of 35 family, school, religious groups, community groups, and employers working together to strengthen families and learning to communicate that effort nationwide.
The Partnership has grown to 6,000 organizations and includes groups from IBM to mom and pop businesses, from individual schools to States, Boys and Girls Clubs, and many religious organizations. The school and parent groups have been focusing efforts on strengthening the father's involvement in learning and preparing materials for teachers, practitioners, parents, and caregivers. Community organizations have taken the lead on afterschool care, and the faith community is focusing on the safety of the children. In all areas, reading is considered a key issue as is preparing children for college. All work is directly related to parenting issues, Mr. Herman said, and there is a definite relationship between safe and smart. For more information on the Partnership, click on http://www.ed.gov/parents/academic/help/partnership.html.
Mr. Herman recommended obtaining several available ED publications by calling 1-800-USA-LEARN, including:
Adriana DeKanter, Special Advisor, Afterschool Programs, ED, briefly discussed a poll taken of the voting public. When asked to describe the number one problem in communities today, the overwhelming answer was the lack of parental involvement. When asked what would help to solve the problem, the number one response was afterschool programs. Ms. Canter said that the Council needs to remember that afterschool programs are a way for the Federal government to help working families.
Ann Segal, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Initiatives, Office of Planning and Evaluation, HHS
Ann Segal, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Initiatives, Office of Planning and Evaluation, HHS, discussed parent education and support through HHS programs. Most of HHS's programs are embedded in other programs that focus on the child and youth, and the Department always views the parents as the primary partners in accomplishing goals. Parents are teachers and providers of health and safety for children. Their role impacts the community.
Head Start, begun in the 1960's, focuses on the parents' role from the beginning, and still leads the way in the early childhood field. Congress recently added Early Head Start, a program that serves parents, infants, and toddlers. HHS provides materials for parents' education and support and also supports childcare workers, who are often isolated, with training and support. The Safe and Stable Families Act, part of the Child Welfare system, provides direct funding for parent education and support activities. States are using many community-based programs, including primary prevention and home visits. Several States are using Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) funds for two-generation strategies to support families.
The health programs-Medicaid, Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grants, the Indian Health Service, and Migrant Health programs-also incorporate parent education and support. Health and mental health providers use a variety of means to educate parents including office and clinic visits, the media, and outreach programs such as nurse home visits. Another program sends resource mothers who are paraprofessionals to visit pregnant women and new mothers to encourage immunizations and healthy environments and serve as mentors.
HHS also recognizes the new research on the importance of fathers and the need for their involvement with their children, schools, and health care providers. HHS is funding research with DOJ on incarcerated fathers and funding a study of family support programs funded under the Safe and Stable Families Act. With the National Academy of Sciences, HHS is studying brain development to identify strategies that parents and providers should use to enhance that development.
Discussion on Potential Areas for Collaboration and Development of a Parenting Initiative
Mr. Bilchik reviewed some of OJJDP's efforts in this area, which are premised upon its Comprehensive Strategy for dealing with serious, violent, and chronic offenders. One of the elements of the Comprehensive Strategy is the need to support parents and their primary role in nurturing their children. The focus of OJJDP's programs has been on local communities, children's needs and their risk factors, and on the overlapping influences in the child's life.
There are no clear demarcations between the different domains of a child's life, Mr. Bilchik said; instead, there is a synergy between the factors that increase the probability of delinquency. When children have multiple negative influences in their lives, those influences surface in a kind of multiplier effect, increasing the probabilities of bad behavior. Programming needs to be holistic and multisystemic, but the core element continues to be a family strengthening component.
An example of this type of multisystemic therapy approach can be found in a South Carolina family and neighborhood services program that examines the home environment and how to influence the ability of the family to handle the issues children face with school, peer groups, and the community. This program saw reductions of 50 percent in delinquent behavior, and the key element was strengthening the family.
This approach is highlighted in OJJDP's work in four key areas-research and evaluation, demonstration replications, training and technical assistance, and information dissemination. In addition to publishing a series of bulletins on effective practices, OJJDP wants to refine how it uses the Internet and to continue the use of satellite teleconferencing to get the message out to communities. OJJDP recently developed a new webpage on disabilities that incorporates no new research but links many sources of information.
Michael MacPhail, Judge, County and Youth Courts of Forrest County, MS, asked that the Federal agencies coordinate with one another and blend their funding to allow local communities to address their problems.
Senator Stevens directed the course of the discussion that followed when he asked how the country can address the problem of busy working parents who often do not have an extended family to support them. How can we find a way to fit parenting support into their schedules, especially in the 0 to 3 years, he asked. Attorney General Reno agreed and said she would like the Coordinating Council to spearhead a research effort on this issue. The Attorney General recently spoke to the American Academy of Pediatrics and suggested that pediatricians, family physicians, and the faith community could form coalitions to help parents across the country.
What mechanisms exist that could provide support? Carol Kumpfer, formerly of the Strengthening America's Families project, said that an informal neighborhood support group that operates with formal support in Europe has been an effective mechanism for bringing the message to the home. The Department of Labor (DOL) has developed a family-friendly workplace initiative to promote father's involvement with their children. Richard Morris, Youth Development Specialist, Office of the Associate Assistant Secretary for Job Training Programs Employment and Training Administration, DOL, said 46 percent of fathers participated in a flextime program, commuting during off-peak hours, that allows them to spend more time with their children.
Daniel Schecter, Acting Deputy Director for Demand Reduction, reported that the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is in the second year of its $185 million per year youth antidrug media campaign targeted to reach both youth and parents. The campaign is using a state- of-the-art advertising technique, running 6-week campaigns on television and on the radio that are reinforced on the Internet and through a video featuring Bill Cosby. Last month's message was on parent efficacy; next month's message is on parent skills. The advertisements are reaching 95 percent of youth and parents seven or eight times a week. ONDCP is also chairing an interagency group on youth drug abuse.
Larry Brendtro, Ph.D., President, Reclaiming Youth, said Senator Stevens was on target when he said this country needs to recreate the small town extended family experience. Dr. Brendtro shared three ideas on getting programs out to those who need them. First, he described the work of Margaret Harrison, a practitioner from the United Kingdom, who took the ideas embodied in Head Start and began Home Start International in her country, a program that matches young mothers with volunteer experienced mothers to guide them as members of the extended family were able to do in the past. Second, early belligerent behavior in kindergarten has been a sign of impending problems. Canada has developed a youth development program in school using trained workers, including teens and teachers in training, to assist teachers. And, finally, the faith community is a wonderful resource for the kind of intergenerational support parents need.
John J. Wilson, Deputy Administrator, OJJDP, updated the Council on the issue of international parental abduction, a focus of the Missing and Exploited Children's Program. This program has also been very active in the area of Internet crimes against children and has released two new guides on children and sexual exploitation and the Internet: Computers and the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Internet Crimes Against Children. Also, in association with the National School Board Association, OJJDP has developed a primer for parents and teachers on online safety for children. For more information, visit the following Web site at www.missingkids.com.
Update on the National Center on Education, Disability, and Juvenile Justice
Reneé Bradley, Ph.D., Special Assistant to the Director of Research, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, ED, updated the Council on the National Center on Education, Disability, and Juvenile Justice, funded by OJJDP and the Office of Special Education Programs. The Center performs research, training and technical assistance, and dissemination in the three areas of prevention, service provision within facilities, and reintegration to the community. Mr. Bilchik invited other agencies to participate in the opportunities the Center provides.
Gwendolyn Dilworth, Program Manager, Training and Technical Assistance Division, OJJDP, updated the Council on an initiative to examine how agencies can effectively share information across disciplines. The goal of the information-sharing initiative is to increase the capacity of State and local collaboratives to establish and manage effective multidiscipline, multiagency information sharing systems to improve coordination, decision making, and services to children at risk and their families. A working group of representatives from OJJDP, the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), Office of the General Counsel, ED, and HHS are meeting to identify the intended audiences and plan the project approach and the scope of training and technical assistance. The Information Sharing Training and Technical Assistance Project will begin in July 2000.
Mr. Bilchik said the Council will follow up on the issues addressed at this meeting by asking for volunteers to form a working group and to develop a plan of action. He thanked the Coordinating Council for their participation and hard work and adjourned the meeting.