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OJJDP News @ a Glance May 2024

News In Brief

OJJDP Partners Develop 5-Year Strategic Plan for Multidisciplinary Responses to Child Abuse

OJJDP grantees funded under the Victims of Child Abuse (VOCA) Act program have completed their first-ever strategic plan, outlining steps needed to enhance both their collaboration and the field’s capacity to implement multidisciplinary responses to child abuse.

Through direct funding, subgrants, and training and technical assistance, OJJDP supports multidisciplinary teams and children’s advocacy centers (CACs), strengthening the nation’s response to child abuse. CACs rely on teams comprising professionals from the medical, law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, victim advocacy, and mental health fields. Working in a single location, these multidisciplinary teams coordinate the investigation and prosecution of child abuse cases and offer services to children who have been abused and their family members.

OJJDP’s VOCA Act program partners developed the plan, which defines four national priorities:

  • Expand the reach and access to multidisciplinary response approaches, particularly in areas where such services are inadequate or underutilized.  
  • Support and strengthen the infrastructure and organizational capacity of multidisciplinary teams and CACs to enable effective service delivery. Achieve this by providing professional development and training and technical assistance.
  • Ensure that CACs operate according to the core values of the CAC model, which centers on the belief that every child deserves access to an effective, multidisciplinary response to abuse. Emphasize CAC accreditation, elevate promising practices, and maintain an effective workforce across the CAC network.
  • Expand research into the effects of a multidisciplinary approach to child abuse investigations—focusing on disparities in access and service utilization—and promote innovative practices throughout the CAC network.

OJJDP’s VOCA Act national partners include the four regional CACs; the National Children’s Alliance, the national accrediting body for CACs; and training and technical assistance providers the National Children’s Advocacy Center, Zero Abuse Project, and Native Child Advocacy Resource Center.

Center for Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities Seeks Applicants for Youth and Family Council

Input from young people and families with lived experience of the juvenile justice system will be crucial to the work of the new Center for Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities (RR/ED) in Juvenile Justice. The center is currently recruiting applicants for a 15-member Youth and Family Council, which will help guide the center’s mission and influence all of its activities. Applications can be submitted online and will be accepted until June 4.

The Center for RR/ED seeks applicants age 18 and older from diverse backgrounds who have current or previous experience in the juvenile justice system and who are interested in system reform. The Youth and Family Council will meet virtually once each month; members will also be invited to participate in the center’s training and technical assistance events. Council members will be compensated $35 per hour for up to 3 hours each month.

OJJDP has committed approximately $1.5 million to support the Center for RR/ED, Administrator Liz Ryan noted during the center’s launch on April 9. This funding aligns with the overarching principles that guide OJJDP’s work, she said—a commitment to racial equity and fairness, and a promise to partner with youth and families who are directly impacted by the juvenile justice system. The Center for RR/ED is a collaboration between the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, and the Center for Children’s Law and Policy.

AMBER Advocate Highlights Program's Annual Symposium

The April 2024 issue of The AMBER Advocate focuses on the 2024 National AMBER Alert and AMBER Alert in Indian Country Symposium, which took place February 27–28 in New Orleans, LA. Hundreds of professionals attended, including state and regional AMBER Alert coordinators, federal officials, Tribal law enforcement officers, managers of missing person clearinghouses, and experts in emergency management. The Advocate cover story, “One Team, One Fight,” highlights the symposium’s keynote speakers and workshops, which featured case studies, best practices, reviews of technology and trends, and training opportunities. There were also focused regional and Tribal breakout sessions.

The April issue examines the high-profile abduction and rescue in September 2023 of a 9-year-old girl who disappeared while riding her bike in a New York state park. “Wheels of Justice” examines lessons learned by professionals who responded to the case—including the need to prepare AMBER Alert coordinators for public scrutiny and possible criticism. In another article, “Faces: A Shining Light,” Michigan AMBER Alert Coordinator Jolene Hardesty describes her work on the Not Invisible Act Commission, a federal panel created to address the epidemic of missing, murdered, and trafficked American Indian and Alaska Native people.

Dataset from the 2022 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey Is Now Available 

The Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES) have released the dataset for the 2022 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey. The annual survey is the nation’s primary source of information on criminal victimization; the School Crime Supplement is administered approximately every 2 years.

The School Crime Supplement asks respondents ages 12 to 18 about crimes that occurred at their schools and other characteristics of school crime. Information gathered from student responses is intended to help policymakers, researchers, and practitioners at the federal, state, and local levels make informed decisions about crime in schools. The resulting dataset can be used to generate estimates. For example, the NCES published Student Reports of Bullying: Results From the 2022 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey in February, with estimates about bullying experienced by students, including characteristics about the incidents and the students involved.

The supplement’s questions span a broad range of topics, addressing both student experiences and their perceptions of crime and safety at school. Students were asked whether they could acquire alcohol and illegal drugs while at school, for example, and whether they witnessed other students under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol. Other questions addressed fights, bullying, hate incidents, weapons, gangs, and whether students avoided certain areas or stayed home from school because they feared harm. The School Crime Supplement also included questions about school rules and security measures.

Date Created: May 29, 2024