5 Ways the #JJDPAmatters to States and Communities

Act 4 Juvenile Justice
August 1, 2017

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) represents a federal-state partnership to improve and modernize juvenile justice approaches. The JJDPA helps states enact key reforms that both improve outcomes for young people and increase community safety.

Despite having strong bipartisan support, the JJDPA is ten years overdue for Congressional reauthorization. This is important: we now know more about what does and doesn’t work to keep our communities safe and put youth on a better path.

Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its bill updating the JJDPA, and now the Senate must act. It’s time to reauthorize and fully fund the JJDPA so states can to continue to be effective.

To better understand why #JJDPAmatters to states, take a look at how a few states are using JJDPA funds, specifically Title II, Title V and the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant.

It’s time to reauthorize and fully fund the JJDPA so states can continue to make progress.


Kentucky uses the JJDPA’s guidance and funding to invest in modernizing its juvenile justice system. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, Kentucky received $542,011 in federal dollars from formula grants, which it is using to increase access to and quality of preventative approaches and to improve communication between federal and state agencies and stakeholders. These funds also allow the state to make progress toward its goal of reducing the amount of young people who are incarcerated for low-level violations.

Here’s just one example: The Children's Home of Northern Kentucky, in partnership with Erlanger-Elsmere and Ludlow Independent School district, provides prevention services for young people who have low-level involvement in the juvenile justice system (for example, demonstrating “status offense” behaviors such as skipping school). The program is held during school and structured as part of students’ class schedules, which means students are not stigmatized for attending. It includes assessment, substance abuse prevention, therapeutic drumming, and ongoing supports.

West Virginia

In FY 2017, West Virginia received $394,051 through the formula grants provided by the JJDPA. The JJDPA is having a positive effect and allowing for meaningful change in the lives of youth across the state.

More than eighteen programs rely on Title II funding. In FY 2017, the state opted to concentrate on 10 grant program areas in particular to improve their juvenile justice system. Among these specific areas of interest are increased delinquency prevention, improved school programming (specifically the implementation of the Prevention Resource Officer program), gender-specific services, mentoring, increased access to mental health services and sentencing alternatives and programs that will reduce recidivism.

Like many states, West Virginia faces serious challenges related to substance and alcohol abuse. As part of their efforts to improve their juvenile justice system, the state uses JJDPA funds to focus on education, prevention and treatment of this problem among youth.West Virgina continues to use federal funds to track and collect data on disproportionate minority contact within the system.TEXAS


Texas continues to use federal dollars to focus on improvements to the state juvenile justice system. It’s no small amount: in FY 2016, Texas received $3.39 million from formula and block grants under the JJDPA.

Among other projects, Texas has focused on creating a school-based diversion program in areas such as Waco and Bryan. The state has also introduced a gender-based response program to its juvenile justice system.

Texas counts its JJDPA-funded programs as “an integral part of a high-functioning juvenile justice system” and notes that continued federal funding is critical.


In FY 2016, Alabama was granted $586,438 in formula grants under the JJDPA. In the past, Alabama has used these funds to implement programs to address sentencing alternatives, preventative juvenile involvement programs and programs that address delinquent behaviors and recidivism. Going forward, Alabama intends to use federal funds and formula grants to further improve their juvenile justice system by hiring a contractor to address disproportionate minority contact.

Alabama has expressed explicit interest in developing proper and timely jail monitoring techniques. With increased funding, Alabama would be able to bolster aftercare and reentry programs across the state, continue to train staff and State Advisory Group (SAG) members on disproportionate minority contact and build increased coordination between SAG members and experts in the juvenile justice field. Alabama’s forward progress in this area is dependent upon federal funding and the reauthorization of the JJDPA.

New York

New York continues to receive large formula grants under the JJDPA that allow for the meaningful and continued change in the juvenile justice system. In FY 2016, New York received $2.04 million in formula grants. More specifically, New York was granted a two-year $500,000 planning award from OJJDP under the Statewide System Reform Program. New York has used this federal funding to move towards full-scale statewide changes throughout child welfare, treatment and court systems.

New York has made significant progress using their funding to roll out a statewide screening tool that flags the need for further alcohol and substance abuse assessment, pilot testing evidence-based practices within the social services and treatment systems and the continued monitoring and tracking of disproportionate minority contact and racial impact in the juvenile justice system.

The OJJDP planning award and JJDPA formula grants have been instrumental in allowing for New York to make progress and study best practices for the juvenile justice system.


In FY 2016, Washington received $818,102 in formula grants to invest in their juvenile justice system. Also in FY 2016, Washington was awarded an additional grant from the OJJDP to support Smart on Juvenile Justice programming.  This funding allowed the state to launch and strengthen its efforts to reduce the out-of-home placement of young people charged with low-level violations, decreasing disproportionate minority contact and reduce racial disparity through data-driven planning. Washington has also used its federal funding to improve the quality of evidence-based practices.

These are just a few of the improvements and alternatives supported by federal JJDPA funding to the states. In the coming months, we’ll share more stories to paint a better picture of what this really looks like in communities, and share the insights of young people who have experienced some of these investments firsthand.

For more, visit Act4JJ.org.


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