Juvenile Drug Courts: Two Agencies, One Application

The details have not been finalized, but the plan is for one single application in 2009 for federal funds for juvenile drug courts, making the project much simpler for interested jurisdictions.

The change was announced by Randy Muck, chief of the targeted populations branch at the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), at the quarterly meeting of the Coordinating Council of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and then confirmed by Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) Administrator J. Robert Flores.

This will be “much, much better” for grantees, Flores said at the meeting.

Here’s the process now, as explained by Muck. OJJDP has money available that can fund the facilitation of juvenile drug courts, and CSAT (a division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration) can fund treatment. Basically, a jurisdiction must obtain funds from both agencies for the grants to make sense. Because of the “vagaries of the review process,” Muck said, some applicants would “score high for us and low at OJJDP.” (Unusual review process at OJJDP? Really?)

Anyway, that drove grantees crazy. According to Flores, it forced some grantees to violate the law and operate half the program or return the money. For the upcoming fiscal year, the two agencies will put juvenile drug court money out for bids through one application.

Another note: Muck indicated that new grantees would be required to conduct mental health screenings for all juveniles processed through the drug courts.

There are certainly still questions. For starters: neither agency knows how much money it will have available for the drug courts, and both agencies obviously will have to find common ground on accepting and reviewing applications.

Flores says it will happen, though. “We’re committed to it,” he told JJ Today after the meeting.

We will post again on this when the 2009 solicitation is published.

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