3. Overview of the Title V Community Prevention Grants Program

The Community Prevention Grants Program provides communities with the following critical ingredients for successful delinquency prevention:

  • A theory-driven, research-based prevention framework.

  • The tools, training, and technical assistance needed to bring community members together to build on that framework.

  • Local control of program planning and implementation.

With these assets, and seed money to set the process in motion, communities are able to design and implement comprehensive, risk- and protection-focused prevention strategies that encompass all areas of young people's lives -- their families, schools, peers, and communities.

3.1 Key Principles of the Community Prevention Grants Program

A major impetus behind the development of the Title V Community Prevention Grants Program was the National Association of Counties' (NACO) observation that local jurisdictions had been paying the expensive "back-end" costs of the juvenile justice system -- enforcement and treatment -- and, in the process, depleting the funds that could otherwise be used to support prevention activities. Without an infusion of money from alternate sources (e.g., State and local governments) that could be applied to the "front end" of the system, cities and counties became entangled in a cycle whereby cost effective opportunities to prevent crime and avoid justice system involvement were lost. In 1992, NACO testimony before the Subcommittee on Juvenile Justice of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary recommended helping communities to develop a more balanced approach to juvenile crime that could be tailored to their specific local needs.

In the 1992 reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (JJDP) Act of 1974, Congress established Title V -- Incentive Grants for Local Delinquency Prevention Programs. Title V created a Federal grants program to fund collaborative, community-based delinquency prevention efforts along the lines of what had been recommended by NACO. The program integrated the following six underlying principles:

  • Comprehensive and multidisciplinary approaches -- To increase the efficacy of delinquency prevention efforts and reduce duplication of services, the program requires that each community designate a Prevention Policy Board, a multidisciplinary planning board including representatives from law enforcement, juvenile justice, education, recreation, social services, private industry, health and mental health agencies, churches, civic organizations, and other youth and family service organizations.

  • Research foundation for planning -- The program promotes a rational framework for responding to adolescent problem behaviors that is based on decades of juvenile delinquency research (Howell, 1995). Through systematic risk assessments and ongoing data collection activities, communities identify and prioritize areas of risk that warrant delinquency prevention resources and track the outcomes of their delinquency prevention efforts.

  • Community control and decision-making -- The Community Prevention Grants Program enables local jurisdictions to assess their own delinquency prevention needs and resources and then design and implement appropriate, sustainable delinquency prevention initiatives that fit local conditions.

  • Leverage of resources and systems -- While some subgrant awards are relatively small, this seed money can provide both a financial base and the incentives necessary for local jurisdictions to secure additional funding and implement sustainable delinquency prevention systems in their communities. The program requires a local resource assessment, which identifies duplication in services, program gaps, and opportunities for service integration. Local resource and risk assessments lend validity to requests for local and State funding and enable communities to use more effectively the delinquency prevention funds they secure.

  • Evaluation to monitor program success -- At the local level, requisite program evaluation activities enable stakeholders to assess progress, refine their programs, and optimize effectiveness over time. Community members receive the tools needed to assess program outcomes and monitor long-term changes in the prevalence of risk factors and adolescent problem behaviors in the community. In addition, OJJDP is conducting a national evaluation to analyze program results across communities, assess the impact of Federal program dollars, and gather and disseminate information on what does and does not work in delinquency prevention.

  • Long-term perspective -- Perhaps most important, this program does not propose quick-fix solutions to complicated juvenile problems, but rather has adopted a long-term perspective that fosters positive, sustained community change. Short-term efforts must be combined with long-term investments to create healthier and safer neighborhoods over the long run.

In the Community Prevention Grants Program, these fundamental principles are combined to form a strategic approach to reducing juvenile delinquency, providing a sound framework for its practical application. Chapter III of the report describes the experiences of States and communities in translating these theory-based principles into practice as they receive funding and implement the program model.

3.2 The Grant Award Process

The Community Prevention Grants Program structure is designed to provide communities with a guiding framework for building healthy communities in an objective, systematic, and comprehensive manner. The program grant award process -- as set forth in the final Program Guideline in the Federal Register, August 1, 1994 (Volume 59, Number 146) -- authorizes the State to award grant funds to units of general local government and allows for broad local discretion in applying funds toward community- based delinquency prevention activities tailored to the needs of the specific locality. In conjunction with the grant award process, OJJDP has awarded a contract to provide national training and technical assistance to help communities that wish to build their capacity in delinquency prevention planning and implementation. The program's grant award process and capacity-building activities are illustrated in Exhibit 1.

Exhibit 1

Program funds are distributed to local communities in a two-step process. In the first funding step, OJJDP awards grants to States. Each State, as well as the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories (subsequently, "the States"), is eligible to apply for program funds provided that it has a State agency designated by the chief executive under Section 299(c) of the JJDP Act and a State Advisory Group (SAG). As provided by Section 223(a)(3) of the Act, the SAG is an advisory board appointed by the Governor with 15 to 33 members who have training, experience, or special knowledge concerning the prevention and treatment of juvenile delinquency or the administration of juvenile justice. Statutory responsibilities of the SAG include participating in the preparation and administration of the State's juvenile justice plan, advising the Governor and legislators on responding to juvenile justice needs, and reviewing grant applications related to juvenile justice and delinquency prevention. Program grant amounts are based on a formula determined by the State's population of youth who are subject to original juvenile court delinquency jurisdiction under State law, with a minimum State award level of $100,000 and a maximum of $2,354,000. (Territories are each eligible for $33,0000, with the exception of Puerto Rico, which receives an amount based on juvenile population.)

In the second funding stage, the State agency, with concurrence of the SAG, awards subgrants to units of general local government through a competitive process. Units of general local government are defined as any city, county, town, borough, parish, village, or other general purpose political subdivision of a State, and any Indian tribe that performs law enforcement functions. In order to be eligible to apply for a subgrant from the State, a unit of general local government must first:

  • Receive SAG certification of compliance with the JJDP Act core requirements.

  • Convene or designate a local Prevention Policy Board, consisting of 15 to 21 members representing a balance of public agencies, nonprofit organizations, private business and industry, at-risk youth, and parents.

  • Submit a 3-year, comprehensive delinquency prevention plan to the State.

  • Provide a 50 cents-on-the-dollar match, either cash or in-kind, of the subgrant award amount.

SAGs may establish additional eligibility criteria for subgrant awards in their States based on criteria related to juvenile crime or other indications of need (e.g., jurisdictions with above-average violent crime rates).

Exhibit 2 presents the requirements for local applicants' comprehensive delinquency prevention plans. The grant application process calls for broad-based community involvement and specifically requires evidence of key leaders' support and designation of a multidisciplinary Prevention Policy Board to mobilize and oversee the prevention effort. The grant application process also requires data collection and thorough assessments of community readiness, risks, and resources before delinquency prevention strategies are developed and funded. These assessments form the basis for an empirically-based plan to implement and/or expand community-based programs and services for children and families.

Exhibit 2

Requirements for the Comprehensive Delinquency Prevention Plan

  • The designation of a Prevention Policy Board, consisting of 15 to 21 members representing a balance of public agencies, nonprofit organizations, private business and industry, at-risk youth, and parents.

  • Evidence of key community leaders' support for the delinquency prevention effort.

  • Definition of the boundaries of the program's targeted neighborhood or community.

  • An assessment of the community's readiness to adopt a comprehensive risk-focused delinquency prevention strategy.

  • An assessment of baseline data related to risk factors prevalent in the community.

  • An identification of available resources and promising approaches that address identified risk factors and an assessment of gaps in existing services.

  • A strategy for mobilizing the community to implement delinquency prevention activities.

  • A strategy for obtaining and coordinating identified resources to implement promising approaches that address priority risk factors and strengthen protective factors.

  • A plan describing how program funds and matching resources will be used to accomplish stated goals and objectives.

  • A description of the Prevention Policy Board's program management role.

  • A plan for collecting performance and outcome evaluation data.

As a consequence of the locally-driven assessment and planning processes, the type, scope, and combination of programs and services implemented vary from community to community. While one community may respond to its risk profile and resource gaps by implementing a family support program, another may identify the need to implement after-school recreation services and youth leadership development activities; yet another may focus on a widespread media campaign to mobilize the community to reduce the risks youth face. Each community creates, in essence, a unique delinquency prevention initiative tailored to the specific conditions, risk profiles, and existing resources in that community.

The Title V Program model emphasizes that the most effective response to crime and delinquency problems is not always new services. Rather, the solution may lie in the integration and coordination of existing services and/or systems change efforts. This might include, for example, working with local bars and liquor stores to better regulate the sale of alcohol to minors and banning alcohol at community or sports events where youth are present.

3.3 Community Capacity Building: Training, Technical Assistance, and Evaluation Support

To support communities in conducting quality risk and resource assessments and developing sound delinquency prevention plans, OJJDP has, since the project's inception, offered training and technical assistance to States and communities across the country.1 State Juvenile Justice Specialists, who are responsible for administering juvenile justice grants at the State level, coordinate the provision of training and technical assistance to interested communities in their States. The training and technical assistance are designed to enhance participating communities' abilities to plan, develop, and implement risk- and protection-focused delinquency prevention strategies.

A core component of the training and technical assistance that is provided to States is Communities That Care (CTC). Training on the CTC prevention model is delivered in two phases. The first phase -- The Key Leader Orientation (KLO) -- consists of a 1-day workshop that orients key community leaders and high-level executives to the principles of risk- and protection-focused delinquency prevention. The second phase of training -- The Risk and Resource Assessment (RRA) -- is a 3-day "hands-on" workshop for members of the community's Prevention Policy Board on how to conduct community risk and resource assessments, including data collection and analysis. In addition, some States have accessed, through a variety of funding sources, a third segment of CTC training entitled Promising Approaches. This segment presents communities with a variety of programs and strategies that have shown positive outcomes in addressing the various risk factors that contribute to juvenile crime and delinquency.

OJJDP selected the risk- and protection-focused approach used in the CTC strategy as its delinquency prevention training model because of its strong empirical basis and systematic approach to community-based, collaborative assessment, and planning. Based on 30 years of research on factors associated with adolescent problem behaviors, this risk- and protection-focused approach incorporates only those risk factors that have been demonstrated to predict the development of a problem behavior and stresses the need for programs that enhance protective factors to buffer high-risk juveniles from the impact of risk factors. CTC provides an overall conceptual framework that facilitates community-wide involvement in assessing risk and protective factors and planning delinquency prevention programs that respond to these locally identified factors. Although communities are not required to apply the CTC strategy, it is well-suited to support communities in their implementation of the Community Prevention Grants Program.

OJJDP also makes other technical assistance available to States and communities on an as-needed basis. Assistance is available to strengthen the conceptual understanding of the risk-focused prevention model that was presented in the training sessions, provide information related to other risk- and protection/resiliency-focused prevention models, and to help with technical aspects of planning or implementing delinquency prevention strategies.

In addition to supporting States and communities in planning and implementing their delinquency prevention strategies, OJJDP has provided a valuable source of evaluation assistance with its Title V Community Self-Evaluation Workbook. Published in 1995, the Workbook consists of easy-to-complete forms and step-by-step instructions that guide communities through evaluation activities in three key areas:

  • Documenting community mobilization efforts, planning and decision-making processes, organizational structure, delinquency prevention plans, and resource allocations.

  • Monitoring implementation of new programs and community-change projects.

  • Tracking changes in community statistics that measure risk levels and adolescent problem behaviors.

The Workbook also provides information about how to analyze and use evaluation data to improve program operation and services to youth. It provides the framework and tools subgrantees need to determine where they are in relation to their delinquency prevention goals and objectives and to measure their progress in decreasing risk factors and improving community conditions. The Workbook is available through the Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse and OJJDP's official Internet site in both paper and electronic formats.2 OJJDP has provided training to State Juvenile Justice Specialists in the use of the Workbook in evaluation workshops designed to familiarize them with the Workbook features and to address specific areas of evaluation interest or need. Additional evaluation training, available to States upon request, has been provided to Title V subgrantees in nine States. The Workbook not only assists communities in conducting local program evaluations, but it also provides the standardized data collection instruments that form the basis for OJJDP's national evaluation of the Community Prevention Grants Program, which is described in the following section.

3.4 National Evaluation of the Community Prevention Grants Program Implementation and Outcomes

OJJDP is currently conducting a long-term, national-level outcome and impact evaluation of the Community Prevention Grants Program. The evaluation design is based on input from leading national experts on designing and conducting evaluations of comprehensive program initiatives and draws extensively on existing data sources and data collection instruments. The evaluation activities include technical assistance to build State and local capacity for ongoing evaluation of local Title V initiatives.

The national evaluation is intended to examine the viability and effectiveness of the Title V delinquency prevention model. Very broadly, the national evaluation will address the following research questions:

  • What is the impact of the Community Prevention Grants Program on community planning, service delivery, risk factors, protective factors, and juvenile problem behaviors?

  • What factors and activities lead to the effective implementation of the Community Prevention Grants Program model and to positive program outcomes?

To address these research questions, the evaluation is examining the key stages of program implementation at the local level, which include mobilization, assessment and planning, implementation, and institutionalization and monitoring. These stages, illustrated in Exhibit 3, provide a framework for understanding both the process and progress of this long-term delinquency prevention program.

Exhibit 3: Implementation Stages of the Community Prevention Grants Program

The evaluation also is testing the key theories, or assumptions, on which the Title V program model is based. As shown in Exhibit 4, the model assumes that Federal assistance will enhance communities' ability to effectively implement the program model, which will lead to more effective prevention planning processes, which, in turn, will lead to the implementation of promising prevention programs and approaches. These programs and approaches are expected to result in changes in community systems, values, or norms and individual knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors, which will lead to reduced risk and enhanced protective factors, and, thus, ultimately will reduce juvenile delinquency and other adolescent problem behaviors.

The evaluation design consists of three interrelated levels:

  • Level I: A basic profile of Community Prevention Grants Program communities in the participating States and Territories (e.g., number and amount of awards), which will continue to provide a general description of the distribution of Title V funds and activity across the country.

  • Level II: An assessment of implementation and outcome characteristics in most of the participating Community Prevention Grants Program communities in six States, based on information collected using the Workbook and other local data sources.

  • Level III: An assessment of the efficacy of the Title V model through intensive case studies of the implementation processes and the links between activities and outcomes in 12 Community Prevention Grants Program communities (2 communities in each of the 6 Level II States).

This three-level evaluation design allows the investigation to move from broad descriptions of community Title V programs to increasingly detailed investigations of their implementation and outcomes. The design also helps build the sites' capacities to conduct their own evaluations, with the most in-depth assistance taking place in the Level III communities.

Exhibit 4: National Evaluation Design: Testing the Community Prevention Grants Program Model

The evaluation was designed to be responsive to both methodological and resource requirements. The six State sample -- Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Vermont, Virginia, and Hawaii -- moderates the cost of the evaluation, maintains adequate statistical power, offers geographic and demographic diversity, and includes levels of variation in implementation and outcome factors sufficient to fully investigate the research questions. Despite their differences in approach and composition, the States share a strong commitment to the Community Prevention Grants Program conceptual model and a willingness to participate in the evaluation data collection activities.

An initial round of site visits has been conducted in all six of the study States, with follow-up evaluation assistance and support also provided to a number of local communities. In general, these visits have been used to foster a shared understanding of the evaluation goals and objectives, gain a detailed understanding of the "State context" (e.g., State prevention policy and support for prevention programs through funding, technical assistance, and training), conduct interviews with key State and local stakeholders, and build community evaluation capacity through technical assistance and training workshops. While this multi-year evaluation is still in the early implementation phase, the foundation has been laid for meaningful, ongoing data collection activities with the participating communities. Some of the findings from this early, intensive work with the study States and communities are presented in Chapter III of this report.

The national evaluation is intended to result in:

  • An ongoing description and characterization of the Community Prevention Grants Program grants in all participating States and Territories.

  • An assessment of the extent to which community risk- and protection-focused delinquency prevention has been implemented in the Community Prevention Grants Program communities, including an understanding of what community planning processes were undertaken, which risk factors were addressed, what prevention activities or strategies were carried out, what target populations were served, and the magnitude and intensity of the services provided.

  • An analysis of the changes in target populations and community systems as well as the impact on trends in indicators of risk and rates of juvenile problem behaviors.

  • An increased understanding of the processes involved in effective implementation of the Community Prevention Grants Program model and a test of the theoretical links between the risk-focused delinquency prevention model and community-wide impacts.

Findings from this evaluation will not only help guide OJJDP in refining the risk- and protection-focused prevention model, but also will add to the growing body of research on juvenile delinquency and effective delinquency prevention strategies.

1 Training and technical assistance activities are supported by OJJDP discretionary funds.

2 More information on the Juvenile Justice Clearinghouse and OJJDP's official Web site.

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1998 Report to Congress: Title V Incentive Grants for Local Delinquency Prevention Programs OJJDP Report