Shaquita Ogletree
On Wednesday, September 5, CWLA sent a letter to House and Senate leadership urging the passage of the Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act (JJDPA). CWLA joins the Act 4 Juvenile Justice (Act4JJ) campaign in circulating a letter a day urging Congress to act on the JJDPA reauthorization soon. Act4JJ is composed of juvenile justice, child welfare and youth development organizations advocating for the reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) and increased federal funding for juvenile justice programs and services.

Friday, September 7, 2018, marks the 44th anniversary of the JJDPA, the nation’s main federal law that sets national standards for the custody and care of young people in state juvenile justice systems. The JJDPA was created in 1974 to improve state juvenile justice systems with a focus on education and rehabilitation. Funding is linked to minimum standards and reforms. The legislation was last reauthorized in 2002, making it a decade overdue for reauthorization. JJDPA reauthorization is part of the CWLA 2018 legislative agenda for this year.

Juvenile Justice is critical to child welfare since it deals with some of the same populations and young people. In some instances, Title IV-E foster care funding may cover some youth who are involved with both systems. Some youth may have some of the same challenges such as lacking a permanent home. The JJDPA letter said in part:

“Children and youth in the juvenile justice system are far more likely to have experienced trauma than their peers. Recognizing the impact of exposure to violence and trauma on adolescent behavior and development, both bills include a definition of “trauma-informed” and encourage states to ensure that programs and practices designed to address the needs of youth involved in juvenile justice are both evidence-based and trauma-informed…

The House and Senate bills offer comprehensive services and support for these youth. Both bills promote community-based alternatives to detention; encourage family engagement in design and delivery of treatment and services; and improve screening, diversion, assessment, and treatment for mental health and substance abuse needs.”

The letter was also sent to the four cosponsors of the bill, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Congressman Jason Lewis (R-MN), and Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA).

To read the letter, click here.