Today in Juvenile Justice: Administrator Update, January 26, 2024
During the call held on January 26, 2024, Administrator Liz Ryan highlighted OJJDP's three priorities and what the Office accomplished in 2023 to address them. Administrator Ryan also discussed OJJDP's focus on racial equity and fairness, including the new Center for Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice.
Daryl Fox: Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to the January 26, 2024, installment of “Today in Juvenile Justice: Administrator Update.” We’re glad you’re able to join us today. All audio lines are muted, as this is a listen-only briefing. For reference, this recording will be posted tomorrow to the OJJDP website. At this time, it’s my pleasure to introduce Liz Ryan, OJJDP Administrator, for today’s update.
LIZ RYAN: Hello, my name is Liz Ryan. I am the Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, or OJJDP.
Welcome to the first “Today in Juvenile Justice: Monthly Administrator Call” of 2024!
Today, I want to provide a brief overview of our 2023 accomplishments, and how they have advanced OJJDP’s priorities.
I was appointed OJJDP administrator in 2022. My goal for the Office was to create a clear path to juvenile justice system reform, which would better support our youth and improve community safety.
To that end, we established three priorities that guide our work:
- Treat children as children,
- Serve youth at home, with their families, and in their communities, and
- Open up opportunities for young people who come into contact with the juvenile justice system.
- A promise to partner with youth and families who are directly impacted by the juvenile justice system; and
These priorities are supported by two equally important overarching principles:
- A commitment to racial equity and fairness.
OJJDP hosted a series of listening sessions and town halls with our stakeholders, national partners, and youth and families impacted by the juvenile justice system to learn more about their challenges and successes.
Based on this feedback, we created and implemented a plan of action that guides OJJDP’s efforts as we make funding, programmatic, and policy decisions to transform the youth justice system.
In 2023, OJJDP made substantial progress toward advancing our goals through expanded collaborations and partnerships.
Treating Kids as Kids. We brought fresh approaches to our first priority—treating children as children.
For example, we have:
- Worked collaboratively across the Department of Justice to develop the 2023 National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction.
- Launched a new partnership with the National Sheriffs’ Association to keep young people out of adult jails.
- And we are working with our Victims of Child Abuse Act partners to develop an integrated strategic training and technical assistance plan.
This brings me to OJJDP’s second priority of keeping kids in their homes and providing them with supportive services and interventions.
In 2023, we created a Continuum of Care model to support communities—and we launched the Building Local Continuums of Care to Support Youth Success initiative to support funding to state and local jurisdictions with high rates of youth incarceration.
We are also supporting the National Institute of Criminal Justice Reform’s Community of Practice in which government and practitioners work together to develop community-based alternatives to youth incarceration.
This leads me to our third priority—opening up opportunities for young people who come into contact with the youth justice system.
OJJDP awarded nearly $16 million dollars through the Second Chance Act Youth Reentry Program, to address the challenges that youth face when returning to their communities from juvenile residential or correctional facilities.
OJJDP is partnering with AmeriCorps to increase access to opportunities for youth who are justice-involved to serve as AmeriCorps members.
In addition, after a two-and-a-half-year hiatus, we relaunched the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
This Council is coordinating federal programs and activities to allow for a more efficient and seamless delivery of resources to young people along the continuum of care.
As always, mentoring is fundamental to OJJDP’s work. In FY 2023, we awarded nearly three million dollars to improve outcomes for youth involved in the juvenile justice system by helping to improve academic performance and reduce dropout rates and other negative activities such as gang involvement and substance use. Our overall support for mentoring programs totaled nearly $92.5 million.
In 2023, OJJDP kept its promise to engage youth and families through several new programs, practices, and processes.
In 2022, we launched the Youth and Family Partnerships Work Group. Since its inception, the workgroup has taken several steps to make partnering with youth and families a permanent and fundamental part of OJJDP’s work.
More recently, OJJDP established a Youth and Family Consultants program, where youth with lived-experience expert serve as consultants in meetings and activities, engaging them as trusted advisors, meeting planners, trainers, content creators, analysts, presenters, panelists, and facilitators.
We also issued an award under the Second Chance Act funding that will support two Youth Justice Fellows to inform and implement our national reentry work.
In addition, OJJDP’s 2024 national conference will include a dedicated youth and family partnership track.
This track will have sessions focused on helping our grantees implement best practices for partnering with young people and their families, as well as a separate youth leadership development track that will be by and for young lived experts.
Over the last year, OJJDP intensified its focus on racial equity and fairness.
We posted the Racial and Ethnic Disparities National Data Book on the OJJDP website to identify decision points in the system where disparities exist.
In addition, we issued new guidance to jurisdictions recommending that they presume youth are indigent and unable to pay fines and fees. We know that these costs disproportionately create economic hardships for young people of color and their families.
To learn more OJJDP and our work to support youth and create safer communities, visit our website at ojjdp.ojp.gov.
Next, I’d like to address questions we received through the “Ask the Administrator” inbox.
We received several questions from stakeholders about training and resources to address racial and ethnic disparities in their jurisdictions.
As I’ve previously stated, this is a high priority for OJJDP.
In 2023, OJJDP awarded over $1.5 million dollars to establish the new Center for Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice.
The Center will help states and territories strengthen their compliance with the R/ED core requirement of the Formula Grants Program authorized under the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.
The Center will also develop and implement comprehensive training and technical assistance, as well as develop resources for the field to assist with policies, practice and system changes.
To keep updated on our progress, go to our website and click on “News and Events” and subscribe to our JUVJUST.
Thank you for the questions and keep them coming.
And thank you for joining me today.
Please join me next month when will continue to discuss how we are taking action to support our youth.
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.