Quarterly Meeting Agenda
Monday, June 26, 2000
1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Office of Justice Programs
810 7th Street, NW
Main Conference Room
Please note: a picture I.D. is required for admittance.
The Honorable Janet Reno, Chair
|Overview of the New Parenting Web Site
Director, Information Dissemination Unit
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)
US Department of Justice
|Youth Employment and Juvenile Justice
Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training
US Department of Labor
|Developing Promising and Effective Youth Employment Programs
David Brown (invited)
National Youth Employment Coalition
|Federal Programs That Enhance Youth Employment Opportunities
Director, Housing Assistance and Grants administration, Office of Housing
US Department of Housing and Urban Development
|Federal Programs That Enhance Youth Employment Opportunities
Director, Technology Opportunities Program
National Telecommunications and Information Administration
US Department of Commerce
|Opportunity for General Discussion on Youth Employment and Juvenile Justice
John J. Wilson, Vice Chair, Acting Administrator, OJJDP
Quarterly Meeting Summary
June 26, 2000
Office of Justice Programs
810 Seventh Street NW.
Main Conference Room
- In Attendance
- Welcome and Opening Remarks
The Honorable Janet Reno, Attorney General, and Chair, Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
- Overview of the Parenting Web Site
Eileen Garry, Director, Information Dissemination Unit, OJJDP
- Youth Employment and Juvenile Justice
Raymond Bramucci, Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training, DOL
- Developing Promising and Effective Youth Employment Programs
David Brown, Executive Director, National Youth Employment Coalition
- Federal Programs That Enhance Youth Employment Opportunities
Willie Spearmon, Director, Housing Assistance and Grants Administration, HUD
- Steve Downs (bio), Director, Technology Opportunities Program, U.S. Department of Commerce
- Closing Remarks
John J. Wilson, Vice Chair, Acting Administrator, OJJDP
The Honorable Janet Reno, Chair, Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ);
John J. Wilson, Vice Chair, Acting Administrator, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), DOJ;
Robert Babbage, Senior Managing Partner, InterSouth, Inc.;
Renee Bradley, Special Assistant/Director of Research, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education;
Raymond Bramucci, Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL);
Barbara Broman, Deputy to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Service Policy, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS);
David Brown, Executive Director, National Youth Employment Coalition;
Kimberly J. Budnick, Director, Concentration of Federal Efforts (CFE) Program, OJJJDP, DOJ;
Sonia Burgos, Director, Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD);
Honorable William Byars, Judge, Children's Law Office;
Connie Deshpande, U.S. Department of Education;
Steve Downs, Director, Technology Opportunities Program, U.S. Department of Commerce;
Larry EchoHawk, Law Professor, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University, UT;
Eileen Garry, Director, Information Dissemination Unit, OJJDP, DOJ;
Virginia Gobeli, National Program Leader, Department of Agriculture;
Lorenzo Harrison, Administrator, DOL;
Lee Kessler, Director, Federal Partnerships, National Endowment for the Arts;
Honorable Michael McPhail, Presiding Judge, County and Youth Court of Forrest County, Mississippi;
John Pogash, National Juvenile Coordinator and Juvenile Program Director, Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS);
Daniel Schecter, Deputy Director for Demand Reduction, Office of National Drug Control Policy;
Willie Spearmon, Director, Housing Assistance and Grants Administration, HUD;
Ernest Thomas, Management Analyst, Department of Treasury;
Jim Wright, Coordinator, Youth Alcohol Programs, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
Attorney General Janet Reno welcomed everyone and said she appreciated the involvement of the agencies and Council members. She introduced the topic for discussion: the government's role in preparing youth to enter the workforce of the 21st Century. Noting that technology is changing rapidly and affecting the whole Nation, she listed some of the many questions that must be asked: How can we prepare youth for a workforce we can't even imagine? What skills will they need 10 to 15 years from now? How must they be prepared in terms of technology? She stated that the task is daunting and that a digital divide often separates at-risk and needy children from the resources and technology they will need to succeed. Citing President Clinton's June 3, 2000, radio address, she noted that in 1994, only 37 percent of schools were connected to the Internet but that today, 95 percent were, and 63 percent of all classrooms have access to the Internet. More must be done to make the Internet accessible and to provide youth with skills they will need to work in a future economy which will likely rely on technological advances. Adults need continuing education, too, to keep them evolving as they age.
Before moving forward with the agenda, Ms. Reno took time to announce the official launching of a new Federal Web site for parents looking for information and assistance for coping with the many problems and issues relate to raising children: www.parentingresources.ncjrs.org. Developed by the Council in conjunction with the Juvenile Justice Resource Center (JJRC) and OJJDP, this Web site is intended to be a cutting-edge portal to the best the Internet offers to parents. Ms. Reno invited all the Council members to visit the new Web site and provide continued input and recommendations to ensure that it reflects the work of the member agencies.
Ms. Garry presented an overview of the Parenting Web site and demonstrated it for the Council. The site, www.parentingresources.ncjrs.org, is an initiative of the Coordinating Council, whose participating agencies collaborated with the practitioner members to create it as part of the national agenda to foster positive youth development and reduce violence and delinquency. Parents play a central role in shaping the next generation. Ms. Garry emphasized that being a good parent means more than protecting kids from harm—it means teaching them how to love and learn, giving them opportunities to make the most of their lives, and fostering self-esteem and independence so that they are contributing members of society. No job presents greater challenges, demands broader responsibility, or promises greater rewards than parenting. This new resource will aid parents in their efforts.
Because the new site is a portal Web site, it was relatively inexpensive to create. New material was not created for the site. Ms. Garry said that OJJDP staff spent hours on the Internet figuring out what has been done already. Both private and public sector web pages were reviewed for their relevance to parenting. Staff gathered the first 500 Web addresses and categorized them to create the site.
The Web site represents a large breadth of information. It has eight main pages. All the information is alphabetical. The site gives links to hundreds of parenting resources, with information on teen employment, volunteering, mentoring, and all the developmental phases.
The Web site has six main topical areas, each on separate pages: Child and Youth Development; Child Care and Education; Family Concerns; Family Dynamics, Health and Safety, and Out-of-School Activities. Each of these six pages has more specific subpages. For example, the Child and Youth Development page has three subpages: Developmental Phases, Gender Issues, and Resources. Some of the subpages are further divided into tertiary pages. Developmental Phases, for example, is broken down by age range: 0-3, 4-8, 9-12, and 13-18. The Child Care and Education page has 10 subpages. Each subpage provides links to other Web sites along with some basic information for each: the title of the Web site, the sponsoring organization, and a brief description of the site. The sites are hosted by a variety of public and private entities. For example, the Early Care and Education subpage has links to bilingual parenting in a foreign language, sponsored by Brigham Young University. The Web site also includes links to the Web sites of all the Coordinating Council participating agencies, such as the HeadStart and Child Care Bureau sites, both hosted by the Administration for Children and Families at HHS and the National Parent Information Network hosted by the Department of Education. Private organizations representing early childhood education, such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children are also included.
Ms. Garry reviewed a few links on the Substance Abuse page, which is a subpage of Family Concerns: Campaign Safe & Sober Youth Traffic Safety Programs (sponsored by NHTSA), the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration); and the Parenting is Prevention Project (sponsored by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention). She reviewed the Family Dynamics page, which attempts to cover every type of family unit. Issues related to incarceration and military service are contained in a Special Circumstances page. There are also subpages on issues facing working parents, such as alternative work schedules and eldercare. For someone looking for help in raising grandchildren, one link points to multigenerational families. She also reviewed the Health and Safety page, which offers six subpages covering a variety of topics on child and family health and safety. For example, the Aging Parents subpage covers such issues as Alzheimer's disease, volunteer opportunities, home safety, and products and services for older adults.
The site is structured for easy use, and many of the links appear on more than one page. Nutrition, for example, is under both Family Concerns and Health and Safety. Media Safety/Literacy, Domestic Violence, and Substance Abuse have identical links on different pages. Health and Safety has a Special Circumstances page that deals with such issues as chronic illness and death. Out-of-School Activities has 10 subpages; for example, one subpage discusses mentoring.
The site also includes five additional links: What's New, About This Site, Resources, Site Map, and Search. The resources page contains a subpage on publications, such as the document When Your Child Is Missing: A Family Survival Guide. Users may e-mail ideas and suggest additions to the Web site; these sites will be added as links if they offer appropriate material. OJJDP hopes to have 5,000 links on the parenting web site by next year. Ms. Garry encouraged members to look at the site and provide comments and suggestions from their agencies.
A questioner suggested that the topic of crimes against children be added to the Web site; Ms. Garry said that OJJDP staff are working with the staff of the Internet Crimes Against Children program to add such links. As the site grows, this feature may become a major page. A comment was made that the site was great for keeping documents up to date, because paper documents become out of date so quickly. Another questioner asked how low-income parents could benefit if they don't have access to the Web, and Ms. Garry said that a brochure and toll-free number will get information to rural, low-income, and tribal reservation populations. Ernest Thomas said that the site would benefit work related to Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.), as a tool for both law enforcement and parents.
Ms. Garry pointed out that the packet contained a list of the links on the Web site and asked the Council members to check it and add any links they might want to see on the site. Ms. Reno said that DOJ and the private sector were trying to teach children the "do's and don'ts" of the Internet, because kids may not always know what is okay and what is not. Because information on the Web is so easy to access, children must be taught what is acceptable. On another point, Ms. Reno asked whether the site could be adapted to local settings, so that parents could access information in their local area. Ms. Garry said that it would be possible to make a topical list by State or to divide the United States by region, and OJJDP staff would consider this option.
Mr. Wilson asked member agencies and practitioners to put a link to the Parenting Resources Web site on their own Web sites, to announce the site in their newsletters, and to inform their constituencies of the site's usefulness. He then introduced Mary Lou Leary, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs, thanking her for attending the council meeting.
Ms. Leary said she appreciated the Council's work, personally and professionally, since she is a former middle school teacher and Head Start program director in Harlem, and has therefore had direct experience with these issues. She pledged to support the Council's work.
Raymond Bramucci, Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training, DOL
Mr. Bramucci first became involved in these issues through the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, through which Congress recognized that the economy itself was neither providing enough workers at the top skill level nor producing enough plausible workers at the bottom. This is true especially for welfare families and youth. The number of at-risk youth is too high, and those who have no diplomas will have no place in the economy. This economy is so hopeful, but it will be brutal for those without skills. The Workforce Investment Act was an effort to reorganize the system from the bottom up, requiring that workforce boards be dominated by employers. The Act also recreated the Office of Youth Services at DOL, headed by Lorenzo Harrison. The Youth Opportunity Movement (YO) was launched with $250 million for youth who did not have life, work, or support skills for the economy. It has gone from $1.1 million to $11 million in funding. In February, thirty-six 5-year grants were announced for 26 cities, 4 rural areas, and 6 reservations. DOL's Employment and Training Administration (ETA) wants the system to survive political change. ETA's job is to prepare people. No matter the challenge, pairing youth with the right adults will change their lives. Central to the YO movement is the effort to recruit personnel. Both public and private funds have gone into this through grants to get expertise for Best Practices. The one thing youth need is caring and continuity; episodic intervention is not enough.
Together with the formerly-funded Kulick grants, the 36 YO grants will affect 50,000 at-risk youth at various stages along the path, from training to employment. An infrastructure must be built to help youth when they veer off course, as they will from time to time. Add this to the Job Corps system's 118 centers, which involve 10,000 people per year and targets high-school dropouts and single mothers. Mr. Bramucci told the story of a Job Corps director in Chicago who was formerly enrolled in a Job Corps center as a youth. Job Corps is an academy sharing expertise and connecting with employers around the country who are offering satellite programs from their hiring and training facilities. There has never been a better time for employers to hire, but these youth need credentials and the ability to get to work every day.
It is increasingly common for local criminal justice systems to share space with ETA work offices and one-stop centers. It is very heartening to see that for certain youth, routine sentencing is being replaced with consideration by various groups, such as career center professionals and workforce investment boards. ETA has done a vigorous job of evaluating written grants and the hands-on capabilities of applicants. ETA has also asked nonprofit organizations and foundations to refrain from creating their own YO movements and instead share and invest in the DOL program. Connecting the foundation community with the YO movement can add value and permanency by establishing support with nongovernment sources. If the economy stays as it is, and everything indicates that it will, there is a demand, and ETA will have a role. Mr. Bramucci thanked Attorney General Reno for her long-standing support for helping youth get employment experience.
A questioner asked what services were offered to juveniles in Job Corps who have drug and alcohol issues, and Mr. Bramucci explained that Job Corps has a zero-tolerance policy. Previously, Job Corps gave 30 days to offenders, but found that staff then spent 85 percent of their time with 1 percent of the youth, so a zero-tolerance policy was adopted. The YO movement, however, is a community-based program and is admitting and recruiting these youth and helping them to be a part of the program. The Welfare-to-Work Program has an active drug, alcohol, and physical abuse counseling component. Job Corps, because of its unique setting, had to have a zero-tolerance policy, but other programs will have a link to these services.
This issue is important, particularly because of the lack of connection in the States between the juvenile justice system and youth employment programs. Mr. Brown related that when he was with the juvenile justice system, he always had trouble getting youth into employment and training programs because of their records and performance standards and because of the tendency to serve those who were job-ready, not those most in need. It has been a challenge to bring the systems together. Youth employment programs are still reluctant to accept delinquents. He commended the DOJ and DOL efforts, as well as the task force that brought the agencies together on this issue a few years ago.
In Mr. Brown's experience, the youth are the same in both systems, it's just that some get caught in the juvenile justice system. The National Youth Employment Coalition is hosting the YO movement in Baltimore, providing a forum for networking among practitioners, policymakers, and researchers on this set of issues.
The current employment rate for youth is more than 10 percent, and even higher for minorities, despite the low overall rate of unemployment. While many can get jobs, they cannot always find jobs that they can keep or that pay decently. There is also a changing skills demand; often these youth lack basic academic skills and basic workplace competency, and this limits their upward mobility. In this economy, there is a great need for postsecondary training and education. Youth employment practitioners, therefore, need to think about skills and education, not only about how to help youth find jobs.
A study in the Job Training Partnership Act a few years ago indicated a negative impact on out-of-school youth, and Congress cut the funding. This was a shock to the system, forcing some questions about how to improve efforts. However, other studies found that these programs were positively affecting youth. For example, the Center for Employment Training study, which focused on contextualized learning and links to employers and the Quantum Opportunities Program, run by Opportunities Industrialization Centers of America (OIC), taught the importance of long-term support, incentives, and community service. The study by Big Brothers/Big Sisters showed the importance of mentoring, and the study by the Youth Service and Conservation Corps showed the centrality of the role of work and examined wage needs. These studies taught that the most effective programs were those that provided not only job training, but also other opportunities, services, and activities that engage youth for the long term.
The National Youth Employment Coalition, through a group of practitioners and policymakers, responded by developing the criteria for effective programs, blending youth development and workforce development. Programs across the country that reflected these criteria have been identified with 51 recognized so far. They span the spectrum of programs: in-school and out-of-school programs; job corps programs; and those that target foster-care youth, pregnant teens, and juvenile offenders. All these different approaches have the ability to blend youth development and workforce development. These programs showed several things: there is no single way to address the employment and developmental needs of youth; work must be a development activity; services must be tailored to individual needs; and youth must be connected to the private sector, even in the framing of the program.
Many of these programs also incorporate community service and recognize youth as assets. These programs have also leveraged a large range of funding sources and provide extended services with all different organizations. One common feature that emerges in these programs is the development of relationships between youth and caring adults. They often emphasize family and peer support as well, recognizing that youth often go back to the neighborhoods where they first learned the negative behavior. Last, effective programs respond to the age and developmental needs of the youth. Four programs which serve juvenile offenders include: the Gulf Coast Change Center in Texas; the Fresh Start Program in Baltimore; the Reintegration of Offenders Program, also in Texas, which is linked to the community; and the Career Exploration Project, an alternative sentencing program.
The task force findings (not yet released) showed how to better serve youth using this same research. The problem was to get the findings accepted by the juvenile justice system. Models were needed that reflect the same approaches, and with the help of the Justice Policy Institute and the Youth Development Research Fund, the National Youth Employment Coalition found these programs and profiled them. Practitioners talked about barriers to implementing these programs, one of which was the fact that youth employment is not a high priority for juvenile justice practitioners, who are focused on security, overcrowding, and other mandates. The stigma with the population is also a problem, as is geography, particularly for residential programs where youth are placed remotely and are unable to make connections with employment markets, which may be far away. Another problem is philosophy, with many States focusing on punitive sanctions, making it difficult to devise a strategy that emphasizes developmental milestones and rehabilitation. However, there were creative practitioners, too.
The programs targeting offenders had common elements. First, they were committed to rehabilitation, giving youth the opportunity to correct a mistake. They were also focused on a continuum of care, including aftercare. They integrated education, recognizing the need to integrate workplace competency, vocational training, and academic education. The collaboration with employers, other workforce agencies, and community-based organization was also striking. They were accountable and had high expectations for youth, and their outcomes were good, both for employment and recidivism. Some policy efforts teach collaboration across agencies-for example, between the State of New York and Job Corps. Finally, the Workforce Investment Act consolidated the Summer Youth Employment Program and the Year-Round Program. It requires that 30 percent of its funds be targeted to out-of-school youth, which will help offenders, because they are often in that population. People need to reach out to the juvenile justice system for this reason. It also requires that local youth councils include representatives of law enforcement and juvenile justice agencies. These systems need to work together at the local level as DOL and DOJ have done at the Federal level, and that collaboration must be promoted.
One resource is the Web site, www.nyc.org, with two reports from the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF).
Mr. Spearmon has been in his job for only 45 days, but he has been with HUD for more than 20 years, mainly reviewing housing proposals around the country. He was very impressed that there was a Coordinating Council for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention involving practitioners and Federal agencies. One HUD initiative is Neighborhood Networks, which literally means networking in the neighborhoods. It operates in both rural and urban areas all around the country. It is an initiative that encourages the development of computer learning centers in HUD housing. Local communities often associate HUD with subsidized housing and do not consider the more complex work of the agency. The agency's portfolio of approximately 30,000 projects provides an opportunity for partnering with some of the properties. Roughly 60 percent of the 30,000 subsidized properties serve 1.6 million households in obtaining affordable housing. The HUD Secretary recently said that approximately 5.4 million continue to need assistance; however, the investment in providing affordable housing is roughly a third of HUD's budget.
Neighborhood Networks are all local, and they are unique because they target youth, children, families, and seniors alike. These centers address the needs in any particular housing development, not just low-income people. They may address the needs of a middle school child and an older high school dropout, offering a full spectrum of education and employment programs and services. They support services like health care, transportation, and child care that make workplace achievement a reality. This is all made possible through local and national partnerships with such groups and agencies as DOL, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Bureau of Primary Healthcare, DOJ, and others. The centers get up and running through networking-there are no line items in HUD's budget that direct funds to these facilities. Some properties receive money from funds left over from the maximum profit the developer can receive in a given year (funds that are controlled by HUD), but all facilities are basically developed with local partnerships. In 5 years, the initiative has grown to 600 centers, with 700 more in development. The information packet has a list of coordinators for each State. For example, there are 24 centers in the State of Washington, 13 of which were developed by Mr. Spearmon.
HUD recognizes that when accessed by residents, technology is a means to achieve self-sufficiency, with benefits to the individual and the community. The networks are set up like an office suite in a high-end apartment complex. The focus is to provide residents with a comprehensive spectrum that enables them to become contributing members of society. For example, one center in Richmond, California, is linked online and offers high-tech training, computer certification, and job placement to low-income, minority, and female youth between 18 and 25. Youth are prepared for the job market and then linked to job opportunities. They learn how to write a resume and dress for an interview, as well as other strategies for finding a job or profession. This is funded by a 3-year grant from the Department of Education.
Another example is the Edgewood Apartment complex in the District of Columbia, where youth are hired to manage the center's computer lab. This is one of the most successful and progressive centers in the country. Youth use the skills they learn at the center, market themselves to a prospective employer, and use the software programs at the center. A dozen of the assistants at this program were part of Gateway's graduating class this month.
At Valley Vista Community Center in Las Cruces, NM, youth ages 15 to 22 are polled about the jobs they want, and the Center helps them by arranging job placements, imparting interviewing skills, giving them computer classes, and sometimes providing stipends to attend community college. The Center, with the New Mexico Department of Health, now trains youth to conduct surveys for the Department's tobacco compliance program, and soon they will conduct surveys for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S.-Mexican border health initiative and compliance programs. The Center also addresses the barriers that result from poor academic skills, lack of self-esteem, and limited knowledge about career choices.
Mr. Spearmon noted in closing that households with no access to computers lose out on educational opportunities. Part of HUD's role is closing the digital divide, and there are basic economic reasons for doing so. The owners of subsidized projects say that when youth are busy, owners' operating costs are lowered. Some owners partner with the residents to develop a center, even paying for the infrastructure themselves. HUD is a facilitator, not really providing the money, but helping coordinate efforts. Linking youth with the labor market better prepares both youth and their parents. Mr. Spearmon encouraged people to visit the Neighborhood Networks Web site (www.hud.gov/nnw/nnwindex.html) and to contact him to discuss strategies that might be developed to leverage their resources and help youth.
Lorenzo Harrison, Administrator, DOL, asked whether anyone had considered how the Council would continue after the November elections. Mr. Wilson said he believed there would be continuing efforts to coordinate the work of the various agencies, no matter the outcome in November. Congress has realized how interconnected the agencies are, and so it is a matter of how to achieve cooperation and not whether to achieve it. Those who have been working at the agencies for a long time caused this coordination to happen, and it will be up to them to continue to dialogue in whatever forums are available, maximizing the benefits for children and families.
Another questioner mentioned the Younger Americans Act, to be introduced in Congress, which will look at national policy affecting youth. There are some plans to coordinate youth policy through this Act, which will seek to establish an office of youth, as well as funding. Also, the Family and Children Youth Services Bureau at HHS is developing a blueprint on positive youth development, looking at all the Federal initiatives. Phillip Lovell, with the Center for Youth Resources, is working with the National Collaboration for Youth on the Younger Americans Act, and he offered information for anyone interested in it.
Mr. Wilson suggested putting the Neighborhood Network site on the Parenting Resources Web site. Finally, Mr. Spearmon said there will be a Best Practices conference involving Neighborhood Networks, at which they will discuss sustaining the Network centers and their connections. He again invited anyone interested to look at the Web site.
The Technology Opportunities Program (TOP) is based in the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce and is a small matching-grant program of about $15 million a year. It focuses on demonstrating innovative uses of the Internet and other emerging technologies to make communities better places to live. It particularly focuses on underserved communities, such as inner-city communities, Indian reservations, and Native American villages. It is also interdisciplinary, covering a full range of nonprofit and public sector applications of technology: community development, health, public safety, etc. There is an annual peer review process, and TOP gets 20 times more applicants than it can fund.
The goal is not only to give grants but also to ensure diffusion of this technology into the public and nonprofit sectors. There is a four-part strategy for seeing that the technology is used creatively, efficiently, and effectively. First, competition seeks to stimulate innovation in underserved communities, challenging communities to address the problems important to them. Second, outstanding projects that can serve as national models are funded. Third, evaluations are done at the project level and programwide. Finally, the lessons learned are shared.
"Plugged-In" started as an afterschool drop-in center in East Palo Alto, CA, a community with a high crime rate. It is now a full community technology center. Plugged-In has a program that teaches low-income minority youth Web site and business skills. It has a Web design business that the youth run, and they have clients like Sun Microsystems, Pacific Bell, SRI Institute, and local businesses. Mr. Downs presented slides of the Web sites designed by these youth and noted the advantages these youth would gain from these skills as they get older. A key part of the program is that it provides a safe place for these youth. They also learn the value of their work by earning money.
Another project provides Web site mentoring for youth working on art projects in rural Vermont, where there is a shortage of teachers and skilled artists. Youth get "telementoring" from professional artists through the World Wide Web, where artists critique the posted art projects and provide suggested revisions. This is an example of giving youth resources that are not present in their own community. This idea can be extended to other fields, such as playwriting and music composition.
A third project, in rural Texas, demonstrates how youth can get involved in their community by creating teams of youth working with community seniors and outside experts on research projects. For example, the youth have researched the dieting habits of teenage girls and the correlation of fluoride content in the water with tooth decay. In one project, they looked at county-by-county health statistics, finding that some parts of the community had a higher rate of cancer than others. The technology used in these projects is comprehensive, becoming an integral part of what they do.
Another project, the Harlem Juvenile Treatment Network, focuses on juvenile offenders and is run by the Center for Court Innovation in New York. It was funded just last fall, and it will be supporting the goals of the Harlem Juvenile Treatment Court, which encourages long-term engagement with community-based services for youth in the justice system. It sets up a communications network linking court, social service providers, juveniles, and their families. When a youth comes into contact with the system, the courts craft a service plan and the network sets it up, providing a shared work space for the juvenile and others to follow the plan and check up on the youth's compliance. The service providers can really collaborate in this way, staying in touch. The juveniles can participate by commenting on what is going on with them, for example, explaining a missed appointment or describing a good class experience. There is a recognition that collaboration is needed and that the youth should participate, and technology supports that collaboration. In addition, these youth gain computer skills.
The TOP program aggressively disseminates information on the projects it supports. One report released last September-How Access Benefits Children-profiles a number of their projects. There are also reports, information, and contact information on the Web site, www.ntia.doc.gov. The annual conference in the fall will focus on nonprofits and entrepreneurship, bringing together grantees and national experts. Registration is also available on the Web site, which also has links to grants.
A questioner asked whether the program could provide technical support for low-income families that may have access to computers through donations, but do not have the skills necessary to set them up and use them. Mr. Downs said that TOP could provide such support only on a general level because of the size of its staff. The questioner asked about help with youth getting the wrong information on the Web. Mr. Downs said that TOP does not have a lot of experience with that, but other sources are available. A comment was made that youth at Job Corps sites might benefit by going into homes and providing that technical support. Mr. Downs was willing to look at proposals to implement this idea.
Mr. Wilson thanked everyone for attending, particularly Attorney General Reno and Assistant Secretary Bramucci, and reminded everyone that the October meeting will cover the topic of youth and alcohol. Mr. Wilson then declared the meeting adjourned.