Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
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Federal Agency Ex Officio Members image

US Department of Justice
Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Chair
Attorney General

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Robert Listenbee
Administrator

Corporation for National and Community Service
Wendy Spencer
Chief Executive Officer

U.S. Department of Education
Arne Duncan
Secretary

U. S. Department of Health and Human Services
Sylvia Mathews Burwell
Secretary

U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Thomas S. Winkowski
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary
Immigration and Customs Enforcement

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Shaun L.S. Donovan
Secretary

U.S. Department of Labor
Thomas E. Perez
Secretary

Office of National Drug Control Policy
Executive Office of the President
Michael Botticelli
Acting Director

Federal Agency Affiliate Members image

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Thomas Vilsack
Secretary

U.S. Department of Defense
Chuck Hagel
Secretary

U.S. Department of the Interior
Sally Jewell
Secretary

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Pamela S. Hyde
Administrator

Practitioner Members

Reginald Dwayne Betts
Maura Corrigan
Laurie Garduque
Adele L. Grubbs
Gordon A. Martin, Jr.
Pamela Rodriguez
Deborah Schumacher
Trina Thompson
Richard Vincent

 

Quarterly Meeting Summary

November 14, 2003

Office of Justice Programs
Washington, D.C.

Abstract

This Quarterly Meeting of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention provided members and the public with information on truancy prevention, risk and protective factors related to truancy, and the need for true collaborative partnerships to respond to the problem of truancy. The Council heard a presentation on the President's Challenge for Increased Physical Activity; presentations on truancy from the State Attorney's Truancy Arbitration Program in Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida; the Truancy Court in St. Louis, Missouri; The National Truancy Reduction Demonstration Evaluation; and a presentation on delinquency prevention in Mobile, Alabama. Joining the Coordinating Council were a number of students interested in juvenile justice from Anne Arundel Community College, Arnold, Maryland.

Participants

U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), Office of Justice Programs (OJP)
J. Robert Flores, Vice Chair, Coordinating Council; Administrator, OJJDP
Daryel Dunston, Senior Project Coordinator, Juvenile Justice Resource Center (JJRC)
Marilyn Roberts, Special Advisor to the Administrator, OJJDP
Carol Sadler, Assistant Project Manager, JJRC
Jackie Siegel, Editor, JJRC
William Woodruff, Deputy Administrator, OJJDP

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
Herb Drake, Chief, Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) Branch

Federal Bureau of Prisons
Alex Escarcega, Juvenile Services Administrator

National Institute of Justice
Betty Chemers, Evaluation Division Chief

U.S. Department of Education (ED)
Alexis Fisher, Program Analyst
Bill Modzeleski, Associate Under Secretary
Bryan Williams, Program Officer

Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools
John Linton, Program Officer

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Sonia Chessen, Senior Policy Analyst

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration(SAMHSA)
Randolph Muck, Lead Public Health Advisor
Pat Shea, Public Health Advisor

U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)
Richard Morris, Youth Specialist

U.S. Department of Transportation
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Jim Wright, Highway Safety Specialist

White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)
Darlind Davis, Chief, Prevention Branch

Corporation for National and Community Service
Jeffery Gale, Program Specialist

Practitioner Members
John Calhoun, President and CEO, National Crime Prevention Council
The Honorable Gordon Martin, Associate Justice, Massachusetts Trial Court, District Court
The Honorable Michael McPhail, Forrest County Youth Court, Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Other Participants
Patrick Aaby, Director of Government Affairs, The Channing Bete Company
Ayyub Ali, Student, Anne Arundel Community College
Christine Allen, Student, Anne Arundel Community College
Eduardo Barajas, Jr., Program Management Technical Assistance Consultant
Susan Block, Administrative Judge, County Circuit Court, District 16, St. Louis, Missouri
Joyce Burrell, Senior Juvenile Justice Advisor, American Institutes for Research
Mary Chaput, Director, The Choice Program
Daniel D'Orazio, Assistant Director, The Choice Program
Mishaela Duran, Youth Policy Analyst, National Alliance To End Homelessness
Alexa Eggleston, Policy Associate, Legal Action Center
Erika Fitzpatrick, Executive Editor, Criminal Justice Funding Report
B. Don Franks, Professor, Department of Kinesiology, University of Maryland, Planning and Special Projects, President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports
Shelly Grant, Program Coordinator, The States Attorney's Office, Fourth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida
Caren Harp, Senior Attorney, American Prosecutors Research Institute
William Hodges, Director of Diversion Programs, The States Attorney's Office, Fourth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida
Francine Joselowsky, Senior Program Associate, The Forum for Youth Investment
Randi Levine, Federal Policy Assistant, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids
Kelly McHerney, Student, Anne Arundel Community College
Kristin Otterbacher, Student, Anne Arundel Community College
Veara Pack, Student, Anne Arundel Community College
Nicky Penttila, Editorial Writer, The Baltimore Sun
Bill Richard, Student, Anne Arundel Community College
Miriam Rollin, Federal Policy Director, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids
Ken Seeley, President and Chief Executive Officer, Colorado Foundation for Families and Children
Colby Silver, Student, Anne Arundel Community College
Martha Simmons, Community Projects Manager, Mobile County (Alabama) District Attorney's Office
Joyce Thomas, President and CEO, Center for Child Protection and Family Support
John Tyson, Jr., District Attorney, Mobile County (Alabama) District Attorney's Office
Jim Walker, Vice President and General Manager, Communities That Care, The Channing Bete Company
Sis Wenger, Executive Director, National Association for Children of Alcoholics

Welcome and Introductions
J. Robert Flores, Vice Chair, Coordinating Council; Administrator, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)

Robert Flores, Vice Chair, Coordinating Council, and Administrator, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), welcomed participants to the Quarterly Meeting of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. One of the functions of the Coordinating Council is to ensure that the federal partners know what the other partners are doing for each other and for their constituencies. Mr. Flores remarked that this Council meeting provides an opportunity for the federal partners to learn more about one another's programs to prevent truancy and about effective state and local programs across the country.

Presentation: States Attorney's Truancy Arbitration Program
William Hodges, Director of Diversion Programs, States Attorney's Office, Fourth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida; and Shelly Grant, Program Coordinator, States Attorney's Office, Fourth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida

In the 1990s, juvenile crime was increasing, and juvenile arrests had soared by 27 percent in Duval County, Florida. The States Attorney, Harry Shorstein, decided to make the prevention of juvenile crime the number one priority of the prosecutor, assigning experienced prosecutors rather than the junior prosecutors traditionally assigned to such cases to get tough on juvenile crime; collaborating with the school system; and recruiting mentors to work with youth in jail. From 1993 to 2002, the number of juveniles arrested for violent crimes, weapons offenses, and vehicle thefts dropped by 67 percent. During the same period, an associated effort to combat truancy was initiated. Through the 1970s and 1980s, truancy prevention was left mostly to the school, but by the mid-1990s, a multiagency group assembled to combat truancy.

Duval County's truancy prevention effort, designated the Truancy Arbitration Program (TAP), is based on partnerships of the Duval County School Board, the States Attorney's Office, the Jacksonsville Sheriff's Office, the city of Jacksonville, the Youth Crisis Center, and the Department of Juvenile Justice. TAP, which works mostly with elementary and early middle school children, holds parents accountable for the school attendance of their children. The program is supported by several Florida State Statutes (FSS). According to FSS 1003.27, "Any parent who violates compulsory school attendance laws, in addition to possible jail time and a fine, may be ordered to attend school with his/her child, to perform community service hours, and to attend counseling." When parents are ordered to attend school with their child, they see for themselves how much their child misses in a single day.

FSS 827.04 states, "Any person who causes, tends to cause, or contributes to a child becoming a child in need of services commits the crime of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a first degree misdemeanor. Note: A child who does not go to school may be a child in need of services." Associated statutes add that if a child has 15 unexcused absences within 90 calendar days or does not enroll in school, the States Attorney may file a child-in-need of services petition, and a child may be taken into custody if there are reasonable grounds to believe that a child has run away from home or is absent from school without authorization.

If the school system notices persistent, unexcused absences, school officials hold an Attendance Intervention Team (AIT) meeting. If parents fail to attend the AIT meeting or if absences continue, the case is referred to the next level. Referrals to TAP are received from the Subpoena Program, which requires intervention when a student accumulates five unexcused absences within a month or ten unexcused absences in a 90-day period, and from social workers and truant officers. Nonjudicial hearings are scheduled for parents and children to attend. Interventions such as counseling and tutoring are arranged to resolve the problem. If interventions are unsuccessful, criminal prosecution of the parent may result, but only as a last result.

The States Attorney's Office has taken on the responsibility for 38 schools in Duval County with high truancy levels that have no money to fund the state-required AITs. For the 2002-2003 school year, there were 407 AIT meetings, with 82 referrals to the TAP program. Eight parents were arrested; the children of those parents arrested had missed 5.21 years of school. TAP's goals are to return children to school within 1 week of a hearing, to reduce their absences, to increase their grade point averages, to decrease the dropout rate for the jurisdiction, and to hold parents accountable for their child's regular school attendance. When a first-grader misses 70 days of school, it is generally not the child's fault. Most children who come to these hearings want to go to school.

An associated program, Jacksonville United Against Truancy (JUAT), has developed an antitruancy public awareness campaign, supported by corporate partnerships with Burger King and BellSouth. JUAT is a partnership of many agencies, volunteers, religious groups, and corporate partners.

Presentation: President's Challenge for Increased Physical Activity, Improved, and Enhanced Health
Don Franks, Department of Kinesiology, University of Maryland; Planning and Special Projects, President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports

Mr. Franks remarked that the benefits of physical activity for children and adults are clear and include higher self-esteem, reduced risk of cardiovascular problems, reduced anxiety/stress, increased bone density, prevention of diabetes, and increased social interaction. While physical activity is not a panacea for social ills, it can offer positive alternatives and supplement other programs. Sports can be an external incentive for some kids.

The President's Active Lifestyle Award and Presidential Champions programs encourage physical activity to help develop lifetime patterns of physical activity. Participants choose an activity such as running, log points for the intensity level and the amount of time participating in the activity, and track the activity in an individual interactive online log. Adults need to meet a goal of 30 minutes per day and youth 18 years and under participate 60 minutes per day, five times a week for at least 6 weeks. The Presidential Champions program awards bronze, silver, and gold awards for corresponding levels of achievement.

Darlind Davis, Chief, Prevention Branch, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), suggested that the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports investigate involvement with ONDCP's new Youth Media Campaign with its new thrust on intervention and reinforcing resiliency and protective factors.

Mr. Flores asked if the President's Council has partnerships with groups like Boys and Girls Clubs or 4-H. Mr. Franks said that there have been conversations with these groups, but he was not sure if there were official agreements. The Honorable Michael McPhail, Forrest County Youth Court, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, said that in his area, funding from Juvenile Justice Block Grants had been used to set up a bicycle repair shop, where kids could learn to repair their bikes and participate in various biking events, combining education with physical fitness. Bill Modzeleski, Associate Under Secretary, U.S. Department of Education (ED), added that Healthier USA provides $60 million to school systems for physical education, focused on physical fitness for life, rather than on competitive sports. Richard Morris, Youth Specialist, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), said that DOL has a large captive audience in the 70,000 youth involved in Job Corps and the Youth Opportunity Grant program, and suggested connecting with that program. Herb Drake, Chief, Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT) Branch, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, DOJ, said that the GREAT program works with school resource officers in summer programs aimed at 300,000 youth and that he would like to bring the President's Challenge to these kids.

For more information, go to www.presidentschallenge.org.

Presentation: Truancy Court: Schools, Families, and Courts Collaborating To Divert Kids from the Court System and To Improve Their Educational Attendance and Achievement
Susan Block, Administrative Judge, County Circuit Court, District 16, St. Louis, Missouri

The mission of the truancy court is to instill hope, improve student attendance, enhance achievement, and reduce delinquent behavior through a proactive partnership of schools, courts, and families. Although instilling hope is not a measurable quantity, Dr. Block called it tremendously important. Truancy court is a diversionary program designed to address the emerging truant, a child with 10 to 30 absences a year, and counts both excused and unexcused absences. The focus is on positive reinforcement for the student and the parents.

Truancy court is a partnership of the school, the court, the judiciary, the family, and the community. The truancy court takes place in the school, usually in the library, and a judge presides. The judge can be a member of the judiciary, a commissioner, or a lawyer who has received training in this regard. The school provides a family advocate, refreshments, and incentives for attendance such as family fun night or afterschool programs. Each child who attends receives an incentive such as school or hygiene supplies, gift certificates, organizers, or an alarm clock to help the child awaken for school. The court provides recruitment and training services, technical support, and grant funding. Family participation has been low, but asking parents from previous truancy courts to contact parents new to the program has worked well to increase participation.

The truancy court represents a comprehensive, multidisciplinary community collaboration comprising the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis; Youth in Need, which provides aftercare social workers; the Family Resource Center, which offers job shadowing and mentoring; the University of Missouri St. Louis, which provides evaluation; cooperating school districts, which provide funding; Family Mental Health, which provides evaluation and counseling; and the Children's Division of the Department of Social Services, which provides social services.

For more information, contact Truancycourt@yahoo.com.

Presentation: The National Truancy Reduction Demonstration Evaluation: Report of the Implementation Evaluation and Implications for the Outcome Evaluation
Ken Seeley, President and Chief Executive Officer, Colorado Foundation for Families and Children

The mission of the National Center for School Engagement (NCSE), a program of the Colorado Foundation for Families and Children, is to promote school engagement and truancy prevention to ensure school success. NCSE's goals are to identify the essential elements of truancy model programs in schools, courts, and communities; to determine how community collaboration impacts truancy reduction interventions; and to demonstrate outcomes of truancy interventions. For the last 4 years, NCSE has been conducting a process evaluation that has now shifted to an outcome evaluation to determine program results at seven demonstration sites: King County Superior Courts, Seattle, Washington; State Attorney's Office, Jacksonville, Florida; University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii; Weed and Seed Office, Contra Costa, California; Safe Streets Campaign, Tacoma, Washington; Mayor's Anti-Gang Office, Houston, Texas; and Suffolk Probation Department, Yaphank, New York. Each of the seven sites has developed its own theory of change, but community collaboration is essential for all sites.

NCSE has created an online data collection system to track the demographics, needs, service referrals, juvenile justice involvement, and disciplinary incidents of the demonstration site truant students. Student outcomes are evaluated according to measures of attendance, attachment, and achievement. From the evaluations, it is clear that attendance policies and practices need to be consistent.

Delinquency contributes to poor outcomes including lower lifetime earnings, adult criminality, poor outcomes for offspring, family dysfunction, and unemployment. Seventy percent of suspended youth had been chronically truant in the previous 6 months; 50 percent of expelled students had been chronically truant in the last year; and 80 percent of dropouts had been chronically truant. Every dropout costs the government more than $200,000 in public spending. At the Contra Costa, California, site, improved attendance resulted in $120,000 more in school revenues in two target schools.

Components of effective programs include the following:

  • Consistent attendance policy and practice known by all--students, parents, staff, and community agencies.
  • A continuum of prevention and intervention services, along with incentives and graduated sanctions for students and parents.
  • Meaningful parental involvement.
  • Special attention to health, including providing onsite responses for asthmatic kids and meeting special education needs.
  • Data-driven decisionmaking.
  • Student attendance review boards.
  • Quasi-judicial proceedings.
  • Business involvement.
  • A focus on school transition years.
  • Public awareness campaigns.

Mr. Seeley observed that there is no "silver bullet." Truancy programs must be locally designed, based on the needs of the community, and based on best practices. Truancy reduction is not a one-agency show--solutions require a wide range of participants from many disciplines.

For more information, visit www.truancyprevention.org.

Presentation: Delinquency Prevention: Make the Right Choice
John Tyson, Jr., District Attorney, Mobile County, Alabama

Make the Right Choice is a preventive program designed to fight juvenile crime in Mobile, Alabama. Juvenile crime rates are very high in Mobile County, relative to both the country and the state. Last year in Mobile County, there were more than 16,000 domestic violence calls, resulting in 8,000 police reports, 4,000 arrests, and numerous children exposed to physical and emotional abuse. Every year the county's Child Advocacy Center responds to an average of 600 cases of children who are abused, sexually and physically. Because this is a historically underreported crime, the numbers may be many times higher than the number reported. Last year, there were 1,480 youthful offenders under the age of 21 in the adult court. OJJDP research says that chronic, violent youthful offenders can be expected to commit between 34 and 52 violent crimes while they are still minors, and an additional 38 crimes during the 10 years after they reach adulthood. Mr. Tyson observed that all these problems come to school.

The Make the Right Choice program engages a number of strategies based on the involvement of the whole community in a comprehensive approach to crime prevention. The school system shares truancy information with the District Attorney's (DA) Office. The schools send a letter to the families inviting them to an Early Warning Truancy Program at the courthouse. The DA counsels the youth and parents on the law, coordinates the meeting with the attendance officers, explains the parents' and child's responsibilities under the law, shows them a film and pictures of people who made the wrong choices and ended up in prison, and tries to inspire the child to want to do better. As a result, 53 percent of 2,500 families who participated in the program in one year reduced absenteeism the following year.

The Helping Families Initiative is a work in progress, keying on the serious misbehavior of students who violate Alabama's Code of Conduct in school. Of the students identified for this program in the 101 schools in the county, 40 percent are already involved in juvenile crime; 60 percent are not yet involved, and these are the ones chosen for early intervention by a coordinated, multidisciplinary team. Partners include the juvenile justice system, public school system, local law enforcement, medical and mental health sectors, public and private social services agencies, faith-based communities, and universities. As identifications are made, the intervention team assesses the family for strengths and weaknesses. On the local level, partners are asked to coordinate efforts and funding streams. Mr. Tyson suggested that it would save time and effort for state and local programs if coordinated funding and assistance were available at the federal level as well.

Mr. Flores said the Coordinating Council works to achieve coordinated programs, but that there is no unified funding that pools grant dollars. OJJDP has pooled resources, including funding and planning, with a number of programs, particularly with the Weed and Seed program.

Closing Remarks
J. Robert Flores

Mr. Flores said that a date has not yet been selected for the next quarterly meeting and suggested that meetings be regularly scheduled for the first Thursday and Friday of every third month in light of the busy schedules of Council members. Mr. Flores thanked the Council members and guests for their participation and comments and adjourned the meeting.

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