V. Moving Toward a Healthier, Safer Future

Over the past 5 years, the Title V Community Prevention Grants Program has provided more than 600 local communities with four essential ingredients for implementing a sustainable strategy to prevent juvenile crime and delinquency:

  • A theory-driven, research-based framework for risk- and protection-focused prevention.

  • Tools for building on that framework.

  • Training and technical assistance to use those tools efficiently and cost-effectively.

  • Local control of the process.

As noted in a Nebraska Title V subgrant application, "Communities have expressed the desire to be more involved in prioritizing their own needs and a willingness to accept greater responsibility for achieving outcomes." The Community Prevention Grants Program helps communities identify and prioritize their needs, maximize the use of local resources, and develop community-specific delinquency prevention plans. Through this data-driven framework, communities are accepting more widespread ownership for delinquency prevention planning and programming and greater accountability for results.

Never intended as a quick-fix solution to the complex issues of juvenile crime and delinquency, the Community Prevention Grants Program provides instead a strategic, long-term process that helps communities "change the way they do business." As discussed in Chapter III, such change is often not easy. In fact, implementing this theory-based prevention model has proven to be quite challenging for many participating communities. However, States and communities are developing innovative approaches to overcome these challenges and each year are enhancing their programs based on the early lessons learned. Through the national evaluation, as well as continued applied research on juvenile delinquency, OJJDP continues to advance understanding of how best to support communities in both initiating and institutionalizing their delinquency prevention strategies and integrates that knowledge into ongoing program policies and training efforts. Additionally, as presented in Chapter IV, OJJDP continues to work with its Federal partners to coordinate comprehensive interagency programs and technical assistance activities that address youth issues.

States and communities across the country have demonstrated a solid commitment to the underlying principles and processes of the Community Prevention Grants Program. Several States have supplemented their Federal Title V funds with State funding to support additional communities through the processes of community mobilization, assessment and planning, program implementation, and institutionalization and monitoring. Some States also are integrating the Title V framework into their grant/funding requirements for other youth and justice programming. At the local level, several community board members report that the process of community mobilization, conducting thorough community assessments, and developing targeted 3-year plans was so helpful in bringing the community to focus on youth issues that they "no longer cared if they received the grant money." Finally, many of the communities that have received 3 years of Title V grant funds are beginning to secure funds from a variety of local and State sources to sustain their efforts over the long term.

For the past 5 years, the Title V Community Prevention Grants Program has helped communities create environments that foster strong, nurturing families and healthy, law-abiding youth. Thousands of parents have received parenting classes, home visiting services, and new parent newsletters, while children have gained access to academic enrichment, tutoring, and conflict resolution programs. Adult mentors have served as role models for youth and developed supportive relationships with them. Police officers, social workers, educators, youth program administrators, religious leaders, and others have collaborated to integrate and expand services in a cost-effective manner. Entire communities have joined together to foster healthy beliefs and set clear standards for their youth.

As a result of these efforts and our program monitoring tools, we continue to have promising evidence that these local delinquency prevention initiatives can make a sustained difference. Communities are reporting encouraging outcomes in terms of enhanced coordination of youth resources, family strengthening, school performance, and youth behavior. Through the national impact evaluation we expect to learn even more about the strength and effects of strategic delinquency planning and programming over the coming years.

Given the encouraging results of the first 5 years of the Community Prevention Grants Program, we must capitalize on this momentum and continue to invest in the risk- and protection-focused approach to delinquency prevention. The Title V appropriation for Fiscal Year 1999 more than doubles the funding for the Community Prevention Grants Program, from $20 million to $45 million. (In Fiscal Year 1999, funding for the At-Risk Children's Program also covers other prevention initiatives, including $25 million for the Enforcing Underage Drinking Law Program, $15 million for the Safe Schools Initiative, and $10 million for the new Tribal Youth Program.) The increased Community Prevention Grants Program funding will enable States to provide more and/or larger local grants. Larger grants will provide greater incentives to those communities who have reported that the Title V requirements are "too much work for the small amount of funding available." Additionally, we will continue providing training and technical assistance to best support communities in the challenging but rewarding processes of implementing the strategic, research-based prevention framework. Working in partnership with State governments and local communities, we can continue the downward trend in juvenile crime and delinquency and continue to build a healthier, safer future for our Nation's children and families.

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