II. Title V In Action
2. One State's Title V Experience
With only one exception, every State in the Nation has participated in the Title V Community Prevention Grants Program since its inception in 1994. Virtually all have requested and received at least one round of training in the principles of risk-and protection- focused delinquency prevention, and communities throughout the Nation have received subgrants to implement their prevention strategies. Several States have aggressively adopted a delinquency prevention focus, embracing the Title V model at the State level and actively supporting community-level efforts to implement it effectively. Among them is the State of Michigan, which has provided considerable training and technical assistance to its communities and served as the pilot State to test the Title V Community Self-Evaluation Workbook. Michigan has funded its local grantees in two rounds; the first 14 communities received their Title V funding beginning in 1994-95, and the second round of communities recently has been selected and will begin implementing initiatives in 1998.
Michigan has the eighth largest juvenile population among all States, with more than 1.1 million youth ages 10 to 17 in 1994. Concern over the State's juvenile crime rates grew between 1990 and 1994, as juvenile arrests assumed a greater proportion of the State's total arrest rates, from 28 percent in 1990 to 33 percent in 1994 (National Center for Juvenile Justice, 1996). This shift raised statewide awareness about the need for improved crime reduction strategies and contributed to the State Advisory Group's (SAG) growing interest in delinquency prevention.
Michigan's SAG is chaired by a retired Probate Court judge. Appointed by the Governor in 1994, she brought 25 years of judicial perspective to the position, including the sense that many young offenders were cycled repeatedly through the juvenile justice system with no apparent effect as juvenile crime rates continued to rise. She began to question the efficacy of "back-end" interventions that occurred only after adjudication and became increasingly aware that many troubled youth live in "high-risk" communities that lack the resources to provide them with alternatives to delinquent behavior. She concluded that Michigan needed to adopt aprevention-oriented approach to dealing with juvenile crime and, upon assuming leadership of the SAG, began focusing resources on delinquency prevention. "It was so logical," she said. A Prevention Subcommittee was formed and given responsibility for administering the Community Prevention Grants Program, including developing State guidelines for funding eligibility, writing and distributing requests for proposals (RFPs), reviewing grant applications, and making funding recommendations to the SAG.
Just as Michigan's SAG was beginning to focus on delinquency prevention, many local communities also were beginning to grapple with the contradictions inherent in "back-end" approaches to juvenile delinquency. On the one hand, community members, law enforcement officials, and social service providers were increasingly concerned about stopping the spread of youth violence, gang activity, and delinquency within their communities. On the other hand, these community stakeholders recognized that after-the-crime interventions had little ability to correct the underlying problems that contributed to juvenile crime and delinquency. In response to these concerns, many of Michigan's communities already had begun mobilizing, both formally and informally, to find better solutions to their juvenile crime problems. With the Title V Community Prevention Grants Program, these emerging community collaboratives were provided a compelling framework for conceptualizing and organizing their delinquency prevention efforts.
In mid-1994, the Prevention Subcommittee sent RFPs to units of general local government across the State, including cities, counties, townships, and Native American tribes. In response to this broad announcement, 25 governmental entities submitted statements of interest. Michigan required that all potential grant applicants participate in the Key Leader Orientation (KLO) and Risk and Resource Assessment (RRA) training workshops provided by OJJDP. For this first round of potential grantapplicants, Michigan offered 2 KLO sessions, attended by more than 100 participants representing 22 communities, and 3 RRA training workshops for more than 130 participants from 21 communities. In addition, Michigan provided two sessions of the Promising Approaches training, the third component in the Communities that Care (CTC) training series, which were attended by 50 participants representing 17 communities.
Conducting the risk and resource assessments proved to be an intense and rigorous process for most Michigan communities seeking Title V funds. Prevention Policy Board (PPB) members conducting the community-level assessments typically were not professional researchers or evaluation specialists; rather, they were educators, law enforcement officials, administrators, and concerned citizens. The members, trained during the RRA workshop, were responsible for collecting, organizing, analyzing, and interpreting community data from many sources in order to prepare their delinquency prevention plans. Recognizing that applying for Title V funding required more commitment and "up-front" work than do most grant applications, the Michigan Family Independence Agency made available $5,000 "mini planning grants" with funds from the JJDP Act Part B Formula Grants Program to support communities in completing their assessments.6 Although they were a demanding part of the grant process, the risk and resource assessments' benefits to communities outweighed their costs. As one PPB member commented, "The RRA was the glue that pulled our group together." The results of this process ultimately provided communities with detailed profiles of their strengths and weaknesses and a concrete foundation for prioritizing risk factors and focusing program plans.
Eighteen communities applied for Title V funds during the State's first round of program funding. Based on careful application reviews, site visits, and "question and answer periods," 14 communities were awarded grants to implement their comprehensive, risk- and protection-focused delinquency prevention plans. Nine of these communities received Title V funds, and the remaining five communities were funded with Formula Grants Program funds the State used to augment its Title V allocation. Despite this difference in funding sources, all 14 communities have been trained and funded to implement the Community Prevention Grants Program model, and all must comply with Title V regulations.
The 14 communities vary widely, mirroring the diversity of Michigan as a whole. They include:
Exhibit 6 displays these Round 1 communities, their priority risk factors, and the delinquency prevention programs undertaken as part of their Community Prevention Grants.
Michigan is currently in the process of funding a second round of communities with fiscal year 1996 and 1997 Title V monies. Based on its experience with the Round 1 communities, the Prevention Subcommittee modified the application process for Round 2 applicants by:
These enhancements to the application process were implemented to increase the applicants' capacity to develop and submit plans that are consistent with the Community Prevention Grants Program model, based on the assumption that such plans are more likely to achieve the program goals of reducing risk factors, enhancing protective factors, and bringing down overall rates of juvenile crime, delinquency, and other problem behaviors.
In general, the second round grant applications identified many of the same priority risk factors as did the first round applications. Applicants in both rounds were most concerned about family management problems and academic failure. Round 2 applicants were, however, more concerned about the availability of drugs and alcohol and less concerned about community laws and norms favorable to crime, firearms, and drugs and parental attitudes and involvement in the problem behavior than were Round 1 applicants.
2.1 Title V in Action in Michigan's Communities
This section highlights the experiences of five of Michigan's Round 1 subgrantees: Grand Haven and the surrounding area, Kalamazoo, Detroit's Cooper Community, Farmington Hills, and Bay County. These communities include an inner city neighborhood, a rapidly-changing lakeshore community, a city suburb, and two industrial towns. Some of them had collaboratives prior to receiving their Community Prevention Grants; others established their collaboratives at the impetus of thisprogram. All have embraced the Title V Community Prevention Grants Program model.
In each of these communities, Prevention Policy Board (PPB) members were convinced that a collaborative approach was essential to effective delinquency prevention. Resource sharing was evident in every community, where Title V funds were pooled with a variety of other community resources (e.g., grants, departmental budgets, charitable contributions) to support integrated programming. The synergy of shared ideas and resources reduced overlap, integrated services, and transformed new and existing programs into more effective delinquency prevention initiatives.
EXHIBIT 6: Title V Round 1 Subgrantees in Michigan
The five communities also were convinced that reducing risk factors and increasing protective factors was the best overall approach to prevent juvenile crime and delinquency. They understood that juvenile delinquency doesn't stem from any single factor; rather, multiple factors -- some beginning as early as infancy -- contribute to the problem. Thus, comprehensive, long-term strategies were needed to reduce juvenile crime and delinquency. Consequently, their delinquency prevention approaches employed long-range strategies such as working with parents to improve their parenting skills and their capacity to raise healthier children, providing children with positiveactivities that teach pro-social skills, and developing children's academic abilities and promoting their attachment to school in order to ensure their long-term academic success. As illustrated in these five communities' delinquency prevention stories, such approaches already appear to be paying off.
Grand Haven and the Northwest Ottawa Area
Grand Haven and the Northwest Ottawa Area comprises two cities, a village, and five townships, with a population of about 55,000. This area of West Michigan includes one of the State's most popular tourist spots and a rapidly developing industrial area. Located on the western shores of Lake Michigan, the city of Grand Haven is surrounded by water and beaches. Weathered mansions line the "strip" that separates the city from miles of beachfront.
The area's collaborative emerged out of a community-wide retreat convened in 1994 by theGrand Haven School Board to brainstorm strategies for coping with emerging community problems such as substance abuse, child abuse, and rising juvenile crime and delinquency. The retreat included participants from across the community -- the public schools, local and county government agencies, the county court, health and social service organizations, private industry, and religious groups. The participants concluded that Grand Haven needed a comprehensive, integrated approach for delivering its services to youth and families. "From this meeting, things just blossomed and grew." Committed to a common philosophy of collaboration and cooperation, they established the North Ottawa Area Community Coalition (NOACC) in order to put their philosophy into action, as well as to seek implementation funds such as those available through the Community Prevention Grants Program.
The Coalition's risk and resource assessments revealed a community rich in resources. Under the old way of doing business, however, service providers typically competed for available funding, so they were reluctant to share information and ideas. Families needing services had to wend their way through a maze of government, non-profit, and private service providers. The community's Prevention Policy Board (PPB) decided to implement an integrated, family-focused delinquency prevention initiative designed to change existing systems rather than create new programs. It envisioned a service delivery system that:
To accomplish this system change, the PPB pooled Title V funds with other resources to establish sixneighborhood centers in community elementary schools. According to the NOACC Prevention Coordinator, "The neighborhood centers are the vehicle for coordinating programs, services, and activities to support youth and families in the Tri-Cities Area." The neighborhood centers' services include parenting classes and workshops, child/parent enrichment activities, parent support groups, information and referral, health and mental health services, "Toddler Corners" (e.g., games, art, and activity projects for preschoolers), and computer labs. Programs are supported by a variety of NOACC organizations and agencies.
The parenting classes are an important component of the neighborhood centers' menu of services and are conducted by staff from various NOACC agencies. Classes are geared toward enhancing their parenting skills and expanding their knowledge of child development and parent/child communication. By offering these classes in the neighborhood centers, NOACC makes programming more accessible to community members.
Grand Haven also pooled part of its Title V subgrant with other funds to begin a community-based policing initiative. Community police officers (CPOs) were one of the initial links between neighborhood residents and neighborhood center services. CPOs began their outreach by knocking on every door in their neighborhoods in order to meet all the residents. "The key is getting citizens past the attitude that police only come knocking when something is wrong." Other CPO duties have included visiting school classrooms, keeping in touch with juvenile offenders, and taking part in neighborhood clean-up projects. These activities are helping to establish more positive relationships between police, youth, and families. "We know people by name. Community policing gets you back in touch with why you got into policing in the first place...You really do see results because you can do more work with families one-on-one."
Now in the middle of their third year of funding, the Grand Haven-area PPB has reported several early indicators of progress. Parent training classes have seen a consistent increase in attendance during the past 2 years, from only 5 parents per session to more than 45 per session. The community policing initiative received a National League of Cities Excellence in Policing Award. The Grand Haven Police Department, recognizing how well the community policing initiative has worked, is reorganizing to implement a department-wide community policing approach.
PPB members view the increasing strength of their collaborative as one of the most positive early effects of their participation in the Community Prevention Grants Program. Networking within the collaborative keeps organizations up to date on what other organizations are planning and implementing, thus reducing duplication of effort and increasing resource sharing. As one PPB member commented, "We're not developing new services-we're developing connectivity between other service providers, to make better parents and families, to make a better community."
Detroit's Cooper Community
Jane Cooper Elementary School, serving about 900 children in grades K - 5, is located in a Detroit neighborhood where it is not uncommon to see burned out houses, vacant lots, and churches long closed due to a lack of members. The community has roughly 12,000 members, of which 33 percent are children under 18 years of age.
When the City of Detroit received the Title V Community Prevention Grants Program information package, the Director of the City's Youth Department, under the guidance of the mayor, initiated a review of citywide juvenile crime statistics in order to identify areas that might benefit from a delinquency prevention initiative. Through this process, the ninth precinct, which includes JaneCooper Elementary School, was identified as having more children, more people living in poverty, a greater proportion of high school dropouts, and a larger percentage of violent juvenile offenses than the city as a whole. Consequently, this area became the focus of Detroit's Title V Community Prevention Grants Program.
At the same time, the Director of the Youth Department contacted community leaders known for their commitment to youth issues in an attempt to assess local support for pursuing a Title V grant. Excited by the prospect of a delinquency prevention program in their community, most of those contacted would eventually become members of the local Prevention Policy Board.
Once established, Detroit's PPB began conducting its risk and resource assessment. Committed to school-based programs -- "If you want to access youth in Detroit, you go to the schools" -- the PPB reviewed children's attendance rates and educational attainment scores in schools located in the ninth precinct. PPB members also walked through the neighborhoods surrounding local schools, counting the number of resources (or more likely, the lack of resources) in each community. Jane Cooper Elementary School stood out; the school had many of the problems that had been identified at the city level and was located in a neighborhood with desperately few resources.
Eager to change the future for the youth in the Cooper Community, the PPB set out to bringresources into the neighborhood for families, parents, children, and other community members. The risk and resource assessment results suggested that the community's children needed opportunities for social, emotional, and academic growth, while parents needed incentives to become involved in the school community. Under the guidance of the lead agency, Black Family Development, Inc. (a human service organization chosen for its cultural sensitivity and non-traditional services), and with the support of the Cooper Elementary School Board and the Community Prevention Grants Program, the PPB established the Cooper Community Development Initiative (CCDI). CCDI brought 14 local organizations and agencies into the school to provide a wide variety of social and educational services to students and their families. The agencies and organizations involved included foundations, a mental health agency, the YMCA, Detroit police, health, and recreation departments, universities, and community churches.
CCDI's comprehensive approach to delinquency prevention focuses the majority of its resources on developing protective factors. The underlying program theory is that offering children and their families the means to meet basic health, education, and safety needs will then allow both parents and children to focus more energy on developing their intellectual and creative capacities.
During the school day, a variety of services are available for Cooper Elementary School students. Students receive mental health services that support and encourage academic goals by enhancing emotional development and functioning. A conflict resolution program teaches skills and enhances self-confidence as students learn to resolve day-to-day disputes on their own, without intervention from teachers. An after-school program offers recreation, fine arts, and educational enrichment activities, as well as peer support groups, in order to expand the school's role in promoting positive child development.
The Parent Support Component of the CCDI encourages parents to become more involved with both the school and their children. Parents learn new skills while sharing frustrations and day-to-day problems with other parents during child development seminars and parent skills training workshops, which are held at the school. Using culturally appropriate themes of food and community, the Common Roots Gardening Program provides parents with an opportunity to teach their children to care for themselves, their community, and their environment by planting and maintaining a "community" garden. Health services, including lead screenings, immunization shots, and dental services, are also available to Cooper parents and their children.
Cooper Elementary School's dental clinic illustrates CCDI's prevention approach. The school has allocated space within the school building for the Michigan Pediatric Dentistry Department of the Detroit Children's Hospital to provide dental services for Cooper students and their families. CCDI's theory is that fixing children's toothaches will free them from distracting pain, making it easier for them to concentrate on classroom tasks. If children are better able to concentrate, they will be more likely to achieve academically, thereby decreasing the likelihood of future delinquency and other juvenile problem behaviors.
The Detroit PPB is encouraged by what is happening in the Cooper community. Relationships between the school and families have been completely redefined. Cooper School is no longer just a place where children go to school. Rather, it is a center for the neighborhood and a place where children want to be and parents can go for support, information, and friendship. In the last 2 years, school personnel have seen a dramatic increase in parent involvement in school activities. According to the director of the lead agency, "The word is out in the community. The tone for parents has changed; it's different...They like what we'reoffering the children...their children feel nurtured here."
For Cooper, however, this is only the beginning. It will be a long time before the child with the toothache develops into the high school honor student. But, the community has made a commitment to provide children and families with the opportunities and skills required for healthy, pro-social development. The PPB believes that if it can reach children early, it can change their lives. According to one member of the PPB, "Changed hearts make for changed minds. Changed minds make for changed lives. We're changing lives here."
Bay County, population 111,723, is located on the eastern coast of the State. Aptly named, Bay County encircles Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron and is a prime recreational area for boating, fishing, swimming, and other water sports. Bay City, the county seat, is an important commercial and manufacturing center for ship building, automobile parts, chemicals, oil, and cement. Many Bay County residents work for local industries that have helped create a stable middle class.
Bay County has a history of delinquency prevention initiatives. Many small-scale or pilot projects targeting at-risk or young children have been implemented over the years, and several coalitions have been formed to focus on youth issues. Collaboration and coordination of existing services, however, has been lacking.
Bay County also has a history of juvenile crime initiatives. In 1993, responding to persistent increases in juvenile crime and rising concern over gang activity in neighboring communities, the Youth Street Violence Task Force was formed. The task force explored the possibility of implementing after-school and summer recreation programs for youth -- to keep them busy and off the streets -- butresources were limited. At this point, according to the Bay County prosecutor, it became clear that the only way to prevent youth problems was "to come together and pool resources."
In the summer of 1995, responding to Michigan's request for Title V grant proposals, the chair of the Bay County Board of Commissioners initiated the Community Prevention Grants Program planning process, in coordination with the County Executive. Key community leaders were recruited to attend the KLO session, and the Bay County Juvenile Prevention Project was initiated to address youth issues, bringing together local leaders, service providers, law enforcement, court personnel, and community members, including many who had been involved with the Youth Street Violence Task Force.
When the Bay County PPB completed its risk and resource assessments in the summer of 1995, the results validated previously identified areas of concern, including a high proportion of transient families; high rates of substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and juvenile status offenses; and a perceived lack of community resources. It also revealed previously unidentified school problems, including high truancy rates, school behavior problems, and frequent suspensions. With these risk factors in mind, the PPB adopted a two-pronged approach that focused on expanding the probate court's diversion program and on developing education, training, and recreation programs for youth.
Fast Track is a court diversion program designed to provide immediate consequences for youth who have engaged in delinquent acts, and, more importantly, to provide them with informal counseling, positive peer interaction, and community service opportunities. Each Fast Track participant is assigned to a small work crew that completes a project under the direction of an adult crew leader. Common projects have included removing graffiti from school property and cleaning the city park after community events. Many youth, after completing the program, come back to work voluntarily, one indicator of how well Bay County's program is working.
The Bay City Public Schools' VIP Club is an after-school and summer recreation program for elementary school children. The program is designed to bring the youth of the community together to build positive friendships through a combination of recreation and personal skill-building activities, thus increasing children's sense of belonging and commitment to school. Daily activities include tutorial support, library access, computer training, creative arts, and gross motor skill development. The program is operated in four local elementary schools.
Bay County has seen definite community progress, at both individual and system levels, as a result of its Community Prevention Grants Program. With the help of Title V funds, the Fast Track program expanded its schedule to operate Monday through Saturday, with a 92 percent completion rate. In 1997, 161 youth were diverted into the Fast Track Program, through which they performed more than 4,200 hours of community service. The after-school and summer recreation program has enrolled more than 900 youth, well above the numbers anticipated by the Bay County PPB. Teachers have reported improvements in behavior problems and academic skills among program participants. In addition, PPB members reported that "serious juvenile crime has been capped in this area."
The work of the Community Prevention Grants Program collaborative also has spurred community development beyond its Title V-funded delinquency prevention efforts. For example, the PPB developed Project Success, a program providing alternatives to school suspension. Funding for this program is being provided by the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities program. In one grading period, Project Success has reduced truancy by 53 percent and suspensions by 27 percent.
In addition, Bay County's innovative approach to juvenile crime gained national attention in 1997 when the National League of Cities awarded the Bay City Police Department first place in the community policing category of its nationwide competition. The Police Department, an integral part of Bay County's Community Prevention Grants Program collaborative from inception, was chosen for this award to commend its involvement and commitment to local crime prevention projects for youth.
One of the keys to success for Bay County's initiative has been the willingness of the social service community to collaborate in addressing common, community-level youth problems. According to the Probate Court, one of the primary benefits of collaboration has been discovering that collective problems require collective problem solving, which in turn requires long-range goals. The County Executive agrees:
Fortunately, the community is committed to continuing its delinquency prevention efforts, and the PPB believes that early program successes will help it to leverage the additional resources required to continue its prevention initiative. According to the local prosecutor, the success of this initiative "makes it easier to go to the County Commissioner and say, `Hey, we need some more money.'"
Called "The Bedding Plant Capital of the World," this city in southwest Michigan is home to about 81,000 residents and has a strong industrial base of more than 450 companies producing a wide range of products, from pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and paper products to robots, medical equipment, and flight controls.
In the wake of two juvenile homicides in 1994, the mayor of Kalamazoo convened a task force to study juvenile violence. Strong support from community members and local organizations helped this task force evolve into the Kalamazoo Coalition on Juvenile Violence Prevention. The Communities That Care (CTC) subcommittee of the Coalition served as the Prevention Policy Board for Kalamazoo's Title V Community Prevention Grants Program, which was sponsored by the City's Recreation, Leisure and Cultural Services Department. While Kalamazoo already had a strong coalition going into the Title V grant application process, the program's risk- and protection-focused model played a pivotal role in focusing their ultimate delinquency prevention efforts:
Title V funds have been used by Kalamazoo to foster collaboration and networking between organizations already in existence. Like Grand Haven, Kalamazoo has not developed new programs so much as it has expanded existing programs and services andreduced duplication of effort. For example, taking advantage of an existing program and facility, Title V funds were used to extend the evening hours of a neighborhood Boys and Girls Club.
Another component of Kalamazoo's delinquency prevention program, the Teenage Enrichment Activities Network (TEAN), provides positive alternatives for youth in middle and high school, ages 12 to 18. To participate, youth must obtain parental permission and register with the Recreation Office. They can participate in as many activities as they choose, most of which cost little to nothing. TEAN sponsors a wide variety of after-school and summer activities for teens in the community, including:
Other activities include "lock-ins," dances, and talent shows. A Youth Leadership Council, composed of Kalamazoo middle and high school students, meets regularly to plan and coordinate TEAN activities, thus promoting ownership and pro-social behavior among all participating youth.
Although Kalamazoo is only in the second year of its 3-year funding, PPB members feel that participation in the Community Prevention Grants Program already has improved the Coalition and changed the way delinquency prevention is practiced in Kalamazoo. They recognize that delinquency prevention is no "quick fix," but, rather that it takes time and cooperation to develop and "grow" healthyyouth. "We no longer envision ourselves as a short-term taskforce to address an immediate emergency, but as a permanent coalition of groups and organizations and individuals who are going to work long-term on delinquency prevention."
Farmington Hills -- the "Crossroads Community" -- is a southern suburb of Detroit, with a population of about 80,000 residents. The city has been described as one with "an engrained cycle of collaboration and consciousness raising."
In the spring of 1993, the Farmington Public Schools conducted a survey of eighth, tenth, and twelfth grade students and uncovered some disturbing facts. The survey revealed that Farmington minors had easy access to alcohol and drugs and, of greater concern, were using them. Among the youth surveyed, 85 percent reported that alcohol was readily available, and 83 percent of eighth graders, 88 percent of tenth graders, and 100 percent of twelfth graders had consumed alcohol. In addition, 85 percent of the youth surveyed reported that they already had smoked marijuana.
In response to these and other concerns related to youth and families, the mayor of Farmington Hills formed the Farmington Hills Commission on Children, Youth and Families. The Commission's goals were to promote healthy families and reduce the number of at-risk children by establishing a comprehensive, citywide network of delinquency prevention programs. Despite its good intentions, the Commission lacked the focus and resources required to move from discussion to action.
In 1994, however, the Farmington police chief received the Title V Community Prevention Grants Program funding announcement and realized at once where it belonged: in the hands of the mayor's Commission on Children, Youth and Families. The grant program package was exactly what the Commission needed to help refine and implement its delinquency prevention plans. To comply with applicant eligibility requirements, the Commission quickly identified the community's Key Leaders and expanded itself into the Prevention Policy Board.
The PPB based its risk and resource assessment on data from the 1993 school survey and another community survey conducted by the Police Department in 1993. These data indicated that three major problems were contributing to substance abuse and related problem behaviors among the youth population. First, the availability of drugs and alcohol was a primary risk factor for youth in the Farmington community. Second, while the community had several youth-focused agencies and organizations, these organizations provided mostly treatment-based services to highly troubled youth. Further, they rarely coordinated treatment with other area service providers. Third, the middle school population, ages 11 to 15, was particularly vulnerable to existing risk factors due to a lack of adult supervision during after-school hours (i.e., 4 to 6 p.m.). Because most parents worked outside the home and middle school students were too old for childcare services, many of these youth went home to empty houses at the end of the school day, a time when youth tend to be at greatest risk of engaging in problem behaviors.
The PPB recognized that delinquency prevention efforts targeting the middle school population would be the best strategy for reducing juvenile substance abuse and related problems. With funds from the Title V Community Prevention Grants Program, the PPB developed and implemented a Decentralized Youth Program, which "provides an opportunity for all youth to get assistance in making [positive] decisions that will enhance their lives, long-term." The Youth Program operates four Youth Centers located throughout Farmington Hills, in a community center, a YMCA facility, an ice arena, and a middle school. The Centers provide a host of after-school events and activities for middle school youth including tutoring, "homework hour," learning centers, grade incentive programs, sports, board and video games, "hang out areas," and field trips.
Parent training and family support programs also are a part of the Centers' agenda and include family nights, access to health and mental health services, and educational seminars. For example, hospital and police personnel have conducted seminars on State laws governing the use of drugs and alcohol, the deleterious effects of drug and alcohol use, and the incidence and consequences of use among minors in the Farmington community.
Once youth have registered and obtained their parents' permission to become Youth Center members, they may participate in all activities at any of the sites. Presently, 1,235 middle school children -- about half of the total middle school population in Farmington Hills -- are Youth Center members. While the majority of participants are sixth and seventh graders, eighth and ninth graders also find their way to the Centers.
One of the unique aspects of this program is that youth are integrally involved in planning and implementing Youth Center programs. According to the project director, involving youth is key to their success: "This gives the kids a sense of ownership over what happens here. The kids know what's working and what's not. They keep us up on what's going on and what needs to change." Recently, members of the Youth Center developed and produced the local access cable television program, Teen Age. This show is designed to provide a forum through which youth can obtain information and ask questions about topics such as sexuality, depression, substance use, and other topics parents are often reluctant to explore with their children. YouthCenter members can participate directly, as part of the cast, or indirectly, as members of the studio audience. Each month the show covers a different topic. In January, "Smoking Among Teenagers" featured a guest speaker from the local General Hospital; February's topic is teenage drinking.
The Farmington Hills PPB believes that the Decentralized Youth Program "has been an overwhelming success" in informing and educating its community and providing positive after-school options for middle school youth. The principal of one local middle school reports that students' grades are improving and their self-esteem is increasing. A Youth Center volunteer agrees: "The teachers have told me they have seen a marked improvement in study habits, grades, and in attendance overall. Even the students' attitudes have changed." Parent-child relationships have improved as well. Says one Farmington Hills parent: "As an added bonus...it's nice to have your kids come home and have dinner and not have to spend time arguing about homework because...it's already done. Instead, you can spend time together."
The warmth and enthusiasm with which the youth characterize their experiences at the Centers provides some insight into how the Centers are influencing young lives:
Farmington Hills' vision is that every child will grow to be a happy, healthy, productive citizen. As a community committed to both youth and delinquency prevention, Farmington Hills further recognizes the importance of sustaining their efforts over time. In fact, the PPB has established the non-profit Farmington Community Foundation to raise funds from local businesses to support and expand Youth Center activities. In the last three years, the Foundation has raised more than $300,000, helping to ensure the sustainability of the community's delinquency prevention initiative long after Title V funding has ended.
2.2 The Future of Juvenile Delinquency Prevention in Michigan
Among those involved in Michigan's Title V Community Prevention Grants Program, the consensus is clear: Title V works. It has created positive changes in youth, families, and communities -- changes that they believe will, in the long run, prevent juvenile delinquency in their communities. The communities highlighted above have taken from their Title V experience two enduring convictions about delinquency prevention. First, they are convinced that when community organizations work together, they can combine resources, reduce duplication of effort, and provide better, more comprehensive services than they canindependently. Their collaborative efforts have shown that the whole is, indeed, greater than the sum of its parts. Second, these communities firmly believe that, over the long term, their comprehensive, risk- and protection-focused initiatives will prevent juvenile delinquency.
Because they are taking a long-range perspective, these communities are reluctant to declare victory too soon. Although they are heartened by the early signs of success, they also know that they must sustain their comprehensive delinquency prevention efforts in order to ensure a safe and productive future for youth, families, and the community as a whole.
Clearly, the State of Michigan has enthusiastically embraced the Title V Community Prevention Grants Program model. Like others across the country, Michigan communities have demonstrated an enduring commitment to developing and implementing sustainable delinquency prevention programs based on this model. The next section of this chapter highlights success stories from other States and communities that have made considerable progress in their local delinquency prevention efforts.
6. The Michigan Family Independence Agency provides administrative support to the SAG.
1997 Report to Congress: Title V Incentive Grants for Local Delinquency Prevention Programs