III. Concentration of Federal Efforts

1. Building an Enhanced Understanding of Juvenile Delinquency and Crime Prevention

OJJDP, in collaboration with members of the Coordinating Council, supports research and evaluation activities that further the interests of Federal efforts by promoting an understanding of the causes and correlates of juvenile delinquency and facilitating a common understanding of the most appropriate methods for fostering positive youth behavior and reducing delinquency, two of the priority areas identified by the Coordinating Council. In 1997, through the Concentration of Federal Efforts Program, a number of research studies and evaluation projects were undertaken, engaging a variety of disciplines in validating assumptions about delinquent behavior and identifying successful program components and activities.

OJJDP's approach to juvenile delinquency prevention asserts that problem behaviors are best prevented by identifying and subsequently reducing risk factors associated with them while enhancing protective factors that defend against risk. Three research studies funded through an interagency agreement with the National Institute of Mental Health-Early Alliance, the Diffusion of State Risk-and Protective-Factor Program, and the Multisite, Multimodal Treatment Study of Children withADHD-incorporate this approach into their methodology and design (see Exhibit 7 for a description of these projects). Ultimately, the results of these studies will be disseminated to agencies involved in delinquency prevention and used to identify patterns among risk and protective factors that promote positive youth development.

Committed to effective delinquency prevention programming, the Concentration of Federal Efforts Program also supports projects that incorporate an evaluation component. In 1997, three comprehensive evaluation studies-the Quantum Opportunities Program Evaluation, the Evaluation of the Nurse Home Visitation Program In Weed and Seed Sites, and the Evaluation of the Ounce of Prevention-were funded to measure program impact and identify the most effective prevention strategies for their respective target populations (see Exhibit 7 for a description of these evaluations). The Ounce of Prevention Program evaluation also incorporates a component focused on building local program grantees' capacity for designing, implementing, and interpreting their own evaluations. Enhancing local evaluation capacity encourages community ownership and accountability for delinquency prevention activities and provides communities with the skills necessary to monitor and improve program components.

The joint funding of and Federal collaboration on research and evaluation efforts builds an enhanced understanding of juvenile delinquency and crime prevention, moving all parties involved one step closer to meeting the goals of the National Juvenile Justice Action Plan.

EXHIBIT 7: Concentration of Federal Efforts in Delinquency Prevention Programs

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1997 Report to Congress: Title V Incentive Grants for Local Delinquency Prevention Programs