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OJJDP News @ a Glance

This issue highlights Second Chance Month; OJJDP’s support of services for youth transitioning from incarceration back to their communities and of programs mitigating youth risk for violence; and remarks by Administrator Liz Ryan at several events.
Message From the Administrator: Justice-Involved Youth Deserve a Second Chance
OJJDP Administrator Liz Ryan - News @ a Glance

Children’s Advocacy Centers Key to Keeping Youth Out of the Justice System, OJJDP Administrator Says

Administrator Liz Ryan
Administrator Liz Ryan addresses the 39th International Symposium on Child Abuse on March 21 in Huntsville, AL.

In remarks to the 39th International Symposium on Child Abuse, OJJDP Administrator Liz Ryan drew a direct line between the work performed by children's advocacy centers and OJJDP's goals, underscoring our shared priority to meet youth and families' needs in the community.

OJJDP's partnership with advocacy centers and all of you is incredibly valuable to our overall mission, the Administrator said on March 21. We cannot promote youth justice or community safety unless we first protect child victims.

Children’s advocacy centers coordinate the investigation and prosecution of child abuse cases and the treatment of child victims. These centers use a multidisciplinary team approach that brings together professionals in the medical, law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, victim advocacy, and mental health fields. The teams work in a single location, offering services to abused children and their family members.

Sponsored by the National Children’s Advocacy Center, the 3-day international symposium took place in Huntsville, AL, "birthplace of the nation's first children's advocacy center," Administrator Ryan noted. The National Children’s Advocacy Center serves children and families in Madison County, AL. It also provides coordinated, national training and technical assistance to child abuse professionals, administering the Southern Regional Children’s Advocacy Center, one of four regional children’s advocacy centers funded by OJJDP. Administrator Ryan also referred to OJJDP’s national Tribal children’s advocacy center training and technical assistance program, which the Office initiated in 2022 to expand children’s advocacy center services available to Native American youth.

Administrator Ryan noted the well-documented connection between child maltreatment and subsequent delinquent behaviors. Children who experience abuse are more likely to struggle in school and drop out, she said; they are also more likely to develop issues with substance use, become unemployed, and encounter the justice system. The Administrator emphasized the importance of intervening with young people who have suffered abuse before they become involved in the justice system. Research shows that an estimated 40 to 90 percent of incarcerated girls and 25 to 65 percent of incarcerated boys experienced maltreatment prior to entering the system.

“When you look at the estimated numbers of justice-involved youth who previously experienced abuse, alongside the total number of kids who experience abuse, you can see just how large the scope of this problem is,” she said. 

“The stakes could not be higher for our nation’s youth. Far too many kids are at increased risk of system involvement.”

—OJJDP Administrator Liz Ryan 

The symposium offered more than 160 workshops addressing a range of issues related to child maltreatment, including abuse prevention, child protective services, forensic interviews, human trafficking and sexual exploitation, law enforcement and prosecution, medical and mental health treatment, and victim advocacy.

OJJDP awarded more than $47 million in fiscal year 2022 for Victims of Child Abuse Act programs, including $27.6 million to support local, Tribal, and regional children’s advocacy centers and $19.5 million for training and technical assistance to Tribal children’s advocacy centers, child abuse prosecutors, court appointed special advocates, and judicial, legal, and social services professionals.


With OJJDP funding, the Midwest Regional Children’s Advocacy Center developed an online medical toolkit to help children’s advocacy centers establish medical programs. An OJJDP-sponsored publication, Beyond Case Review: The Value of the Role of Team Facilitator in the Multidisciplinary Team/Children’s Advocacy Center Model, clarifies the roles played by team facilitators and explains their value to multidisciplinary children’s advocacy center teams.

Date Created: April 5, 2023