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OJJDP News @ a Glance March 2024

OJJDP’s Continuum of Care Initiative Awards $17.1 Million in FY 2023

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OJJDP’s continuum of care framework for serving youth and communities emphasizes evidence-based and promising programs and practices so that young people can access needed resources and services where they live and at every point in the juvenile justice system. In fiscal year 2023, OJJDP introduced the Building Local Continuums of Care To Support Youth Success program, which awarded $17.1 million to state and local jurisdictions with high rates of youth incarceration to support their implementation of continuum of care frameworks. The Office will issue another continuum of care solicitation in the coming weeks.

“Serving youth well strengthens communities and contributes to public safety,” says OJJDP Administrator Liz Ryan. “Our continuum of care framework takes a holistic approach that focuses on prevention and early intervention for the vast majority of young people, supporting both youth who are at risk for delinquency and those at risk for victimization. For young people at high risk for deeper involvement in the juvenile justice system, the continuum emphasizes intensive, targeted, evidence‐based programming.” 

Communities implementing a continuum of care approach are better able to assess youth needs, identify gaps in programs and services, and allocate resources accordingly. The approach reserves out-of-home placement for the few youth who pose a serious risk to public safety. The goal is to prevent young people from entering the juvenile justice system and to help those involved in the system find positive paths for the future. Decades of research and success in other fields—including the housing and healthcare sectors—support OJJDP’s use of a continuum of care framework. 

OJJDP awarded continuum of care funding to 26 grantees in 6 states and 17 jurisdictions, including 3 training and technical assistance providers. In Texas, the Office awarded $825,000 to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department and the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute to expand youth access to evidence-based services and reduce incarceration. The 18-month project will assess community resources for young people, identify gaps in services, and develop a comprehensive, customizable continuum of care model. Goals include increasing youth access to diversion programs, fostering cross-system coordination of services for youth, addressing the root causes of racial disparities and youth incarceration, and implementing a graduated response that meets youth needs in their communities. 

“An effective continuum of care for young people ensures youth needs are met and strengthens community safety,” Administrator Ryan says. “Everyone benefits.” 

Continuum of Care Framework Fulfills a Legal Mandate

The Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018 directs OJJDP to support a “continuum of evidence-based or promising programs” that are trauma informed, reflect the science of adolescent development, and are designed to meet the needs of youth who are involved in the juvenile justice system or who are at risk of system involvement. The 2018 law reauthorized and amended the 1974 Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, which established OJJDP and charges the Office with providing national leadership, resources, and funding to states, Tribes, and communities to protect children, prevent delinquency, and improve juvenile justice systems. 

Date Created: March 27, 2024