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Tribal Youth Programs and Services

OJJDP's Tribal Youth Programs and Services helps tribal communities prevent victimization and juvenile delinquency, reduce violent crime, and improve tribal juvenile justice systems.


OJJDP's Tribal Youth Programs and Services helps tribal communities prevent victimization and juvenile delinquency, reduce violent crime, and improve tribal juvenile justice systems.

Between fiscal years 2017 and 2019, OJJDP awarded nearly $27 million to help improve outcomes for tribal youth.

  • Fiscal Year 2019 -- $6.6 million
  • Fiscal Year 2018 -- $7.2 million
  • Fiscal Year 2017 -- $13 million

Programs and Funding

The Department of Justice's Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation (CTAS) combines funding from bureaus/offices within the Office of Justice Programs, the Office on Violence Against Women and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. CTAS includes two primary funding sources from OJJDP for federally recognized tribes that focus on youth. These two grant funding programs are described below and can be applied for via the CTAS application. For more information on CTAS, visit Tribal Justice and Safety: Grants.

  • The Tribal Youth Program (FY99-FY20): Grants awarded through this program help tribes improve their juvenile justice systems and support prevention, intervention, and treatment approaches that benefit youth. OJJDP designed the funding to be flexible to accommodate the unique needs of each tribe since tribes' cultures, needs, capacities vary widely. 
  • Tribal Juvenile Healing to Wellness Courts (FY15-FY20): These grants help participating courts develop or strengthen policies, procedures, and services that address underage drinking and substance abuse. Tribal juvenile health to wellness courts often combine judicial intervention with tribal values, such as spirituality and connection to the family and community, to treat youth. 

In addition to those grants available directly to federally recognized tribes through CTAS, OJJDP funds demonstration programs, including mentoring and leadership development efforts, as well as research and evaluation programs focused on tribal youth. These include:

  • Tribal Youth Mentoring Program (FY08-FY11): Aimed to build the capacity of tribes to develop and strengthen tribal youth mentoring programs.
  • Tribal Juvenile Detention & Reentry Green Demonstration Program (FY09): Supported demonstration program services with an environmental focus for tribal youth residing within or reentering from tribal juvenile detention centers.
  • Tribal Youth Field Initiated Research & Evaluation (FY09-FY12): Practitioner- and policy-maker oriented research and evaluation studies of effective programs, policies, and strategies for the prevention and intervention of tribal youth delinquency.
  • National Intertribal Youth Summit (FY10-FY12): OJJDP hosted an annual youth leadership conference for American Indian and Alaska Native youth (ages 14-17) that focused on critical issues in tribal communities. Building on the successes of these annual events, OJJDP launched the National Intertribal Youth Leadership Development Initiative (FY13-FY17; FY18-21) that further expands leadership development support to tribal youth through regional and national learning events that strengthened the ability of tribal youth to initiate, contribute to and participate in culturally relevant efforts that reduce risk factors and enhance protective factors in youth, schools, communities and families.
  • Mentoring Opportunities for Youth (FY15-FY16): This solicitation supported non-profit applicant organizations as they strengthened and/or expanded their existing mentoring activities. Mentoring activities included direct one-on-one, group, peer, or a combination of these types of mentoring services for at-risk and underserved youth populations. Mentoring promotes positive behaviors, attitudes, and outcomes for youth and reduces risk factors. Applicants under the National Mentoring Programs category were required to develop and implement a plan to serve American Indian and Alaska Native youth, both on and off reservations.
  • Defending Childhood American Indian/Alaska Native Policy Initiative: Supporting Trauma-Informed Juvenile Justice Systems for Tribes (FY16): This solicitation directly addresses several recommendations included in Ending Violence So Children Can Thrive, a report from the Attorney General's Advisory Committee on American Indian/Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence. These recommendations call for tribal alternatives to detention, including use of facilities where children and youth can find safety and easily access services (safe houses); development or revision of tribal juvenile codes to promote trauma-informed, culturally specific and individually tailored care for youth; and wider application of culturally adapted, evidence-based, trauma-informed screening, assessment, and treatment services in tribal juvenile justice and related systems.

Training and Technical Assistance

Training and technical assistance (TTA) is available through several sources:

The OJJDP Tribal Youth Resource Center provides federally recognized tribes with assistance through a variety of approaches including consultation through e-mails, telephone calls, and site visits as well as peer-to-peer dialogue and training, including teleconferences and Web-based discussions. Topics addressed include:

  • capacity building
  • culturally based approaches to prevention and intervention
  • program implementation
  • evaluation
  • enhancement of tribal court systems
  • strategic planning
  • sustainability
  • youth issues, including gangs and youth leadership
  • community readiness assessments
  • cultural adaptation to evidence based programs and practices
  • trauma-informed care

The Tribal Law and Policy Institute, along with their partner the National Native Children's Trauma Center provides TTA to OJJDP tribal grantees and all federally recognized tribes to increase tribal communities' skills and knowledge about programs and strategies, building capacity to develop effective and sustainable programs for reducing juvenile crime and increasing youth potential in tribal communities.

Through the Alaska Native Youth Training and Technical Assistance Project (FY12–FY20), The Resource Basket, a program of the Rural Alaska Community Action Program, Inc., provides TTA to OJJDP tribal grantees in Alaska. The mission of The Resource Basket is to help rural communities support healthy, successful and culturally connected Alaska Native youth.

Training and technical assistance is also available for OJJDP funded grantees to support them in selecting and using performance measures and reporting performance measurement data. 

Further information on how to access assistance is available on the Performance Measures webpage


OJJDP Contacts

Kara McDonagh
Program Manager
Programmatic, Training and Technical Assistance Contact
[email protected]

Carmen Santiago-Roberts
Program Manager
Programmatic, Training and Technical Assistance Contact
[email protected]

Geroma Void
Program Manager
Programmatic Contact
[email protected]

Heather McDonald
Program Manager
Programmatic Contact
[email protected]

Training and Technical Assistance Contacts

The Resource Basket
Rural Alaska Community Action Program (RurAL CAP)
907-278-2309 (fax)

The Tribal Youth Resource Center
Tribal Law and Policy Institute (TLPI)
323-650-8149 (fax)


OJJDP Publications

Breaking the Ice: Creating a Dialogue With Youth
OJJDP-Sponsored, October 2017. This sheet provides tribal communities with ideas on how to educate youth about tough situations. 2 pages. NCJ 251735.
Abstract | PDF

Build the Skills To Support Tribal Youth
OJJDP-Sponsored, November 2016. This brief provides summaries of and how to access three role-play simulations designed to prepare adults to guide conversations with tribal youth that will foster their positive development. NCJ 252025. 1 page.
Abstract | PDF

Child Protection FAQ and Guide for Tribal Communities
OJJDP-Sponsored, October 2017. This guide provides tribal communities with an understanding of expectations, steps for an initial response, and frequently asked questions for when a child goes missing. 3 pages. NCJ 251733.
Abstract | PDF

Connect & Thrive: Maintaining Tribal Youth Connections During a Public Health Crisis
OJJDP-Sponsored, April 2020. This flier from the Tribal Youth Resource Center provides tips for maintaining tribal youth connections during a public health crisis. 4 pages. NCJ 254702.

The First Three Hours
OJJDP-Sponsored, October 2017. This information sheet provides tribal communities tips on how to be prepared as a parent or guardian when a child goes missing. The first three hours are the most crucial window of time for an initial response and gather available resources about a child. 2 pages. NCJ 251734.
Abstract | PDF

In Focus: Mentoring Youth
OJJDP Produced, April 2020. This fact sheet reports on OJJDP funding and technical assistance for youth mentoring programs, which provide participating youth a relationship with a caring adult who can provide the mentee guidance and support. 1 page. NCJ 253045.

In Focus: Tribal Youth Initiatives
OJJDP Produced, May 2020. This fact sheet details funding and programs to support American Indian and Alaska Native communities. 1 page NCJ 254695.

Mentoring for Preventing and Reducing Substance Abuse and Associated Risks Among Youth
OJJDP-Sponsored, January 2020. This review examined research on youth mentoring as a strategy for preventing and reducing adolescent substance use, including opioids. 35 pages. NCJ 254503.

Model Programs Guide Literature Review: Tribal Youth in the Juvenile Justice System
OJJDP-Sponsored, April 2016. This literature review cites research on tribal youth in the juvenile justice system and details protective factors that can contribute to resiliency and reducing negative outcomes and behaviors. 10 pages. NCJ 249809. 

OJJDP News @ a Glance, November/December 2019
OJJDP Produced. This newsletter features November: Native American Heritage Month, which provides examples of OJJDP's work to support American Indians and Alaska Natives nations around the country. 20 pages. NCJ 254270. 
Abstract | HTML

Safe Routes Program
OJJDP-Sponsored, October 2017. This fact sheet provides information about the Safe Routes Program in which youth identify a place they can go when they feel unsafe in their own home. NCJ 252020. 6 pages.
Abstract | PDF

Strengthening Indian Country Through Tribal Youth Programs
OJJDP-Sponsored, 2009. This report, prepared by the American Youth Policy Forum (AYPF) in partnership with OJJDP, provides preliminary findings based on site visits with five Tribal Youth Programs in 2007 and 2008. The purpose was to investigate how individual programs are succeeding in improving the lives of at-risk youth and strengthening families in tribal communities. 24 pages. NCJ 228965.
Abstract | PDF

Tribal Juvenile Healing to Wellness Court Tip Sheet: Consequences and Rewards
OJJDP-Sponsored, May 2017. The Tribal Juvenile Healing to Wellness Court (TJHWC) is a judicial intervention that promotes accountability, healing, and tribal life-ways for court involved youth who suffer from addiction to alcohol and illegal substances. This tip sheet includes a few tips for creating a consequences and rewards system for youth participants. 1 page. NCJ 251265.
Abstract | PDF

Tribal Juvenile Healing to Wellness Handbook: Practical Planning and Supportive Tools
OJJDP-Sponsored, November 2017. This handbook is designed to support both newly developing and established Tribal Juvenile Healing to Wellness Courts (TJHWC). Sections are designed to support teams that may be working through a strategic planning process to implement or expand a TJHWC. The handbook includes many resources from across the body of knowledge related to youth behavior, development, and best practices related to juvenile drug treatment and wellness courts. 125 pages. NCJ 251448.
Abstract | PDF

The Tribal Ten Key Components and Tribal Youth Considerations
OJJDP-Sponsored, May 2017. The "Tribal Ten Key Components" are critical elements identified by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) and serve as a foundation for the development of Drug Courts. 9 pages. NCJ 251264.
Abstract | PDF

Additional Resources

Department of Justice: Tribal Justice and Safety
The Department of Justice launched the Tribal Justice and Safety initiative in June 2009 to increase engagement, coordination and action on public safety in tribal communities.

Department of Justice: Defending Childhood
The Department of Justice's Defending Childhood initiative launched in September 2010 to address a national crisis: the exposure of America’s children to violence as victims and as witnesses.

Office of Justice Programs: American Indian & Alaska Native Affairs
Learn about the Justice Programs Council on Native American Affairs and its work groups, and access more tribal website resources from the Department of Justice.