In June, OJJDP brought together 288 tribal leaders and representatives, via webinar, to consult with them on implementing key provisions of the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018, known as the JJRA. We also sought to improve tribes’ access to funding and strengthen their collaboration with states.
The tribal consultation focused on two JJRA provisions that affect Indian country. The first requires that a tribal representative be included on all state advisory groups (SAGs) in states where one or more Indian Tribes are located. Because SAGs provide input on the allocation of Title II formula grants within their states, tribal representation will help ensure that communities across Indian country have a greater voice in state funding decisions. Although tribal representation on SAGs is a new requirement, some SAGs—like Idaho and Minnesota—are already doing this.
The second provision of the JJRA discussed at the consultation was that of the tribal pass through. The JJRA continues to require states to pass through a specified amount of their formula grants to tribes, and the Act expanded the types of programs and activities that can be funded through formula grant funds.
OJJDP encourages states to provide additional funding above the required pass-through allocations to support effective services for tribal youth. South Dakota nearly doubled the amount of funds they are required to pass through. Some of these funds paid for a juvenile probation officer dedicated to offering culturally specific services to meet the needs of tribal youth in the tribal justice systems.
During the consultation, we shared with tribes other types of funding available through our Office. Tribes typically apply for grants through the Department of Justice’s Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation, known as CTAS. Specifically, OJJDP’s Tribal Youth Program and the Tribal Juvenile Healing to Wellness Courts. Our goal is to ensure that tribal communities are aware of the full range of funding opportunities for which they are eligible, and increase tribal applications to those programs.
Participants provided valuable feedback on these and many other issues, including how OJJDP can best support tribes in—
- Enhancing public safety;
- Building tribal-state partnerships that support programs and services for tribal youth;
- Ensuring that all federally funded programs for at-risk and system-involved youth are culturally appropriate; and
- Accessing federal guidance on grantwriting, program implementation, and sustainability.
It is my sincere hope that this consultation was just the beginning of conversations and relationship building with tribal leaders and representatives from across the country. Their input is critical to our ongoing work to improve the lives of American Indian and Alaska Native youth.