Chapter 1: Major Accomplishments in
1996 and 1997


SafeFutures Program

OJJDP awarded six communities a total of almost $8 million to implement SafeFutures programs, which are locally based initiatives that seek to prevent and reduce delinquency and victimization by intervening quickly when children and teens encounter problems and by holding them responsible when they commit violent or other crimes. The project helps communities coordinate their programs so that the human service and juvenile justice systems, including health, mental health, child welfare, education, police, probation, courts, and corrections, all work together. Such coordination helps create a continuum of care to respond to the needs of youth and their families at any point along the path toward delinquency.

The six communities receiving SafeFutures grants included four urban sites (Contra Costa County, CA; Boston, MA; Seattle, WA; and St. Louis, MO); one rural community (Imperial County, CA); and one tribal community (Fort Belknap, MT). Each site is receiving grants of up to $1.4 million for the 5-year project, which began in 1995. The following strategies are being used to help families in these communities:

  • Contra Costa County is helping at-risk girls through mentoring programs.
  • Boston is strengthening the links between police, the district attorney's office, the probation department, and a community organization and will create a day treatment center to serve approximately 100 youth per year.
  • Seattle is expanding its Cambodian girls group -- an outreach program designed for Cambodian girls ages 12 to 18 who are involved in gang activities.
  • St. Louis is launching a community-wide gang task force and is expanding treatment and restitution programs for juvenile offenders.
  • Imperial County is providing a variety of social, health, and employment services through its family strengthening center and is making a special effort to ensure that services are culturally relevant to the predominantly Spanish-speaking population of the county.
  • Fort Belknap is using intensive probation and community service to target juvenile offenders.

In 1997, OJJDP provided funds for a full-time training and technical assistance coordinator for the SafeFutures program. In addition, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Communities In Schools, and other public and private agencies have agreed to help implement this initiative. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development also contributed $100,000 for training and technical assistance to help prevent delinquency and juvenile violence in public housing areas of SafeFutures sites.

Although the SafeFutures program is relatively new, grantees have taken positive steps in their communities to improve services and create new programs. They have developed a variety of activities, including quick-response teams of police and community workers to prevent gang violence; peer courts; recreational programs that offer positive alternatives to the streets; "one-stop shopping" for health, counseling, and educational services for youth and their families; and special mental health services for families whose daughters are involved in gangs.

OJJDP also is funding a national evaluation of the program. The Office is especially interested in determining the success of each site in developing and implementing a strategic plan to establish a continuum of care and integrated services for young people in high-risk communities. The Office awarded a cooperative agreement to the Urban Institute of Washington, D.C., to conduct the evaluation, which will track the lessons learned at each site.

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OJJDP Annual Report August 1998