4. Providing Opportunities for Children and Youth: Addressing the Needs of Students with Disabilities

Students with learning disabilities and behavioral disorders are more likely to engage in criminal and delinquent behaviors and be incarcerated than are other youth (Kelley, Loeber, Keenan, & DeLamatre, 1997). In addition, many children in the juvenile justice system have an identified learning disability.

To address the social, educational, and psychological needs of students with disabilities, OJJDP is collaborating with the Department of Education's Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services and the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) to initiate a variety of activities. One such program is a 5-year collaborative effort to address the needs of students with disabilities in the correction system and facilitate a smooth transition back to their home, schools, and communities. In addition, OJJDP and OVAE also are working towards developing a series of monographs on the key issues related to learning disabilities and juvenile delinquency. To further address the topic of learning disabilities, OJJDP partnered with the National Institute of Mental Health to support an expanded and extended follow-up study of various treatment modalities for attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) in children. The expanded follow up will assess substance abuse and related factors in ADHD children.

Addressing the issues of children with disabilities will remain a key priority area for the Coordinating Council in 1999 with the opening of a new center for students with disabilities in the juvenile justice system. Sponsored by OJJDP, the Office of Special Education, and various grantees including the Hamilton Fish National Institute and the School Safety Training Center, The Center for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support will build awareness and motivation for schools to design and implement school-wide support for children with learning disabilities.

Through joint funding and support of activities that promote coordination and collaboration at the Federal level, such as those outlined above, OJJDP and the Coordinating Council forge ahead to enhance our response to juvenile delinquency and crime prevention. Future activities will contribute further to our understanding of the causes and correlates of juvenile delinquency, while continuing to move all parties involved one step closer to meeting the goals of the National Juvenile Justice Action Plan and creating safe, healthy communities.

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