Funding for Juvenile Drug Courts
“A drug court is only as good as the treatment program, so it made sense for us to partner with SAMHSA, said Gwen Williams, M.S.W., a program manager at the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) within the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). “Each Agency brings its own strengths to the table.”
SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) and DOJ are working together now on an interagency collaboration that includes funding to expand existing juvenile drug courts. (See grant for details.)
A juvenile drug court is a special docket that aims to rehabilitate rather than punish nonviolent substance-abusing youth, explained Randolph D. Muck, M.Ed., Chief of CSAT’s Targeted Populations Branch. Each grantee will receive two awards, with CSAT funding the treatment component and OJJDP funding the court component.
While the two Agencies have jointly funded drug courts before, they did so by transferring money to each other. “Now we’ll be working together in a more seamless fashion,” Mr. Muck said.
It’s not just Federal agencies that are collaborating. CSAT and OJJDP issued the request for applications in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). RWJF will fund technical assistance and training as grantees use the RWJF-supported “Reclaiming Futures” model.
That model advocates for providing more substance abuse treatment in the juvenile justice system, improving treatment, and moving beyond treatment to help families and communities support young people.
“At the local level, we need to get our substance abuse and mental health programs working very closely with our juvenile justice providers to get kids up and out of that system as fast as possible,” explained Laura Burney Nissen, Ph.D., M.S.W., National Program Director for RWJF’s Reclaiming Futures and an associate professor of social work at Portland State University in Portland, OR. “This partnership is the Federal version of what we’re trying to do at the local level.”
This joint solicitation is just the beginning, emphasized Kenneth W. Robertson, Team Leader of Criminal Justice Programs in CSAT’s Targeted Populations Branch. “The next goal is to bring the same level of collaboration to the adult drug court arena,” he said.
CSAT’s relationship with the Department of Justice goes back a long time, Mr. Robertson explained. But when the Office of Management and Budget reviewed CSAT and BJA’s drug court portfolios, it recommended that the two Agencies find ways to work together even more closely.
“The review’s purpose was to look at federally funded programs and determine if those programs are effective and cost-effective,” said Mr. Robertson. The review found CSAT’s portfolio to be effective to a degree, he said, but it also recommended that the two Agencies could do more to eliminate any duplication of efforts.
To do that, CSAT, BJA, and its OJJDP, took action. They created a working group focused on program coordination and signed a memorandum of understanding laying down a philosophical framework for joint work. And in March 2009, they issued a joint request for applications to expand substance abuse treatment capacity in juvenile drug courts.
“Working together, we can do more to help individuals turn their lives around. Everybody deserves that chance,” said Mr. Robertson.
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