3. Developing Community-Specific Delinquency Prevention Plans|
After conducting a thorough risk and resource assessment, a community is better equipped to make data-driven decisions concerning the types of prevention strategies needed to address their most pressing concerns. The Community Prevention Grants Program requires grantees to develop a 3-year delinquency prevention plan that addresses priority risk factors, strengthens protective factors, fills identified gaps in services, and coordinates existing services systems. The plan is intended to reflect the community's risk, protection, and resource profile. For example, a community with serious academic failure as a key underlying problem would turn to programs focused on curriculum and instructional change, rather than policing strategies. Further, the program model encourages communities to draw upon "promising" programs and strategies in the family, school, community and individual/peer domains that have been shown through research to be effective in reducing risk factors and promoting positive youth development.
All 619 local Title V grantees have developed 3-year delinquency prevention plans as part of their grant applications and are currently at various stages of their implementation. Exhibit 8 presents examples of priority risk factors and selected service delivery programs and systems change approaches adopted by communities to address them. Many of these prevention programs and approaches not only address the environmental risk factors in the community but also enhance protective factors for individual children and youth. They foster protection or resiliency by providing opportunities, skills, and recognition, which support pro-social bonding processes, and also by communicating healthy beliefs and clear standards. For example, the Second Steps Leadership Program in Missouri helps youth build anger management and communication skills, provides opportunities and recognition for youth performance, and also promotes bonding between youth and their mentors. The community policy forums in Pennsylvania address protective factors by establishing clear community standards regarding the non-tolerance of drug use.
In addition to having different risk profiles, the grantee communities vary greatly in their characteristics (e.g., rural versus urban, size, population characteristics) and existing prevention and intervention systems to address delinquency and other problem behaviors. The locally-developed program plans reflect the diversity of communities and frequently integrate local strengths and culture into the prevention strategies. For example, Madison County in southeastern Idaho has heavily involved their strong faith community to work in conjunction with local radio stations and schools to promote positive values, such as honesty, in an integrated fashion. In Kauai, Hawaii, community groups planned a traditional "hukilau" event that brought together community members of various ethnicities and cultural backgrounds to "huki," or pull nets of fish, and established a foundation for continued community building. The Community Prevention Grants Program encourages and supports communities to frame solutions that best meet their unique conditions, resources, and needs.
With its emphasis on building comprehensive prevention plans around data-driven risk and resource assessments, the Community Prevention Grants Program requires many communities to make a significant paradigm shift -- a shift in how they think about prevention, planning, and bringing about community change. Early evaluation findings, however, suggest that some communities may not:
To help communities with the development of effective delinquency prevention plans, OJJDP will offer future Title V grant applicants the Promising Approaches segment of the Communities That Care training. Promising Approaches is designed to help community teams better match prevention approaches to the unique risk and protective factor profiles of their communities (Developmental Research and Programs, 1999). During this training, community teams learn about prevention programs and system change strategies with demonstrated effectiveness in reducing risk factors while enhancing protective factors, assess the suitability of these programs and strategies for their communities, and finally, create action plans for implementing new programs or enhancing existing resources. Many States agree that Promising Approaches has been the "missing link" between the RRA training and the development of effective delinquency prevention plans.
Sample Risk Factors and Community Prevention Approaches