OJJDP’s commitment to the judges and judicial personnel who serve children and families in juvenile family courts “runs deep,” Administrator Liz Ryan said March 20 at the National Conference on Juvenile Justice in Dallas, TX.
“You know firsthand the dedication and hours of training needed to serve these children well,” the Administrator said. “We stand with you as you strive to protect young people and their families—and we value you as partners in the pursuit of juvenile justice reform.”
The conference was sponsored by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, which provides training and resources to judges, court staff, and justice professionals working to improve the lives of people involved in the juvenile and family court systems. In 2022, the council trained almost 7,000 judges and court professionals and responded to more than 600 requests for technical assistance.
In fiscal year 2022, OJJDP awarded more than $5 million to the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, including nearly $3.6 million under the Child Abuse Training for Judicial and Court Personnel program. Under that program, the council offers training and technical assistance to judicial, legal, and social service professionals who handle cases involving child abuse and neglect.
OJJDP also allocated $1 million to the council for the development of a national resource center to ensure fair treatment for justice-involved youth who identify as LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit, and $500,000 to help states and territories strengthen their data capacity to demonstrate compliance with the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act core requirements.
"OJJDP understands the challenges you face every day, and we commend you for your tireless devotion."
—OJJDP Administrator Liz Ryan
Administrator Ryan also highlighted Office efforts to serve justice-involved youth in their communities and to reduce the number of youth housed in correctional facilities. OJJDP’s Community-Based Alternatives to Youth Incarceration initiative is grounded in decades of research demonstrating the damage youth experience from incarceration, including psychological and physical victimization, delayed psychosocial development, and disruptions in schooling.
“Our kids deserve better,” she said. “OJJDP supports community-based programs that emphasize therapeutic or educational approaches—that hold young people accountable for past actions while keeping them in school and at work, connected with their families.”
The conference included more than 50 sessions on a variety of juvenile justice topics, such as the use of trauma-informed practices, the needs of youth who identify as LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit, research on youth development, innovative interventions to reduce delinquency, court best practices, and self-care for judges.
OJJDP staff participated in two sessions. Associate Administrator TeNeane Bradford moderated a presentation on “Adolescent Brain Development and the Valid Court Order,” discussing ways juvenile courts can respond to status offense cases while attending to the emotional development of youth. Speakers addressed early intervention, diversion, informal supervision, mediation, assessment and attendance centers, and other approaches. The discussion also covered truancy and circumstance that lead youth to run away, and explored the boundaries of the valid court order exception, an amendment to the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act that gives judges discretion to securely confine youth for status offenses.
Deputy Associate Administrator Marisa Harris presented OJJDP's Title II Formula Grants Program in the second session, “The Fundamentals of Title II of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.” The formula grants program provides states with funding to carry out prevention and intervention services for youth and improve their juvenile justice systems. Ms. Harris explained the responsibilities of compliance monitors, racial and ethnic disparities coordinators, designated state agencies, and state advisory groups, as set forth in the Act.
Read a Model Programs Guide literature review on the best approaches to serving youth who are involved in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.