Message From the Acting Administrator: Celebrating Native American Heritage by Responding to Tribal Needs
In her November/December 2021 Video Message, OJJDP Acting Administrator Chyrl Jones recognizes National Native American Heritage Month and highlights OJJDP’s commitment to American Indian and Alaska Native youth and the Office’s recent initiative to gather information from tribes on how best to support them.
Every November, our nation recognizes Native American Heritage Month. This is the ideal time to celebrate the rich culture of Native American people and highlight the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s efforts to better serve tribal youth. I'm Chyrl Jones, the Acting Administrator of the office known as OJJDP.
From funding to reduce substance use to efforts to engage tribal communities, OJJDP is dedicated to partnering with tribes to improve outcomes for tribal youth.
Our Tribal Youth Program supports a wide range of prevention, intervention, and treatment efforts to benefit young people. In 2020, the program provided more than $3 million in funding to eight tribes. In 2021, we anticipate expanding this program to support up to 14 geographically diverse tribes with $7.1 million in funding.
To keep tribal children safe, OJJDP invested more than $14 million in 2020 to expand American Indian and Alaska Native children’s advocacy centers. This funding will improve the investigation of child abuse cases and enhance services for victims.
OJJDP is also proud to support tribal juvenile healing to wellness courts. These unique courts help tribes respond to youth alcohol and substance use. We anticipate more than doubling our support for these courts in 2021—to $4.4 million.
Beyond funding vital programs, OJJDP is also focused on listening. In June 2020, we conducted a tribal consultation via a webinar with 288 tribal representatives. We wanted to know how our Office can better assist tribes with youth and juvenile programming. During the consultation—and in all of our work with tribes—OJJDP is focused on gathering information directly from tribes on how to best support them.
We released OJJDP's response to the tribal consultation in July of this year. This full report detailing action items is available on our website at https://ojjdp.ojp.gov.
Based on the feedback, tribal solicitations will now include specific language that recognizes tribal best practices, indigenous practices, and traditional healing methods as strategies to prevent and respond to juvenile delinquency.
To continue the dialogue with Native communities, OJJDP anticipates hosting its second tribal consultation in June 2022 and will incorporate a listening session into the Tribal Youth Conference in 2023. We also intend to include planning grants in our 2022 solicitations to help tribes implement youth programming and juvenile justice system improvements.
Lastly, our Office offers robust training and technical assistance for tribes. The OJJDP Tribal Youth Resource Center provides tribes with remote consultations, site visits, peer-to-peer dialogue, and training. The center is in the process of completely overhauling its website. We plan to launch the new site at the end of November. It will include new resources, as well as an updated tribal grantee portal. Visit https://www.tribalyouthprogram.org to learn more.
As we celebrate the vibrant cultures and rich traditions of Native Americans this November, OJJDP remains committed to partnering with tribes to build strong communities where tribal youth can thrive. By working together, we can ensure that the descendants of the first Americans have an equal opportunity to pursue their dreams.
Opinions or points of view expressed in these recordings represent those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. Any commercial products and manufacturers discussed in these recordings are presented for informational purposes only and do not constitute product approval or endorsement by the U.S. Department of Justice.