- Report Published -
|An Evaluation of Virginia's Offices on Youth|
|Department of Criminal Justice Services|
|Chapter 723 (, 1991)|
|Section 66-26 of the Code of Virginia assigns the Director of the Department of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) responsibility for the statutory oversight of local delinquency prevention programs (i.e. Offices on Youth). DYFS is responsible for the development and supervision of delinquency prevention and youth development programs in order that better services and coordination of services be provided to children. During FY 1991, DYFS administered $1.9 million in state grants to 48 Offices on Youth serving 59 jurisdictions.|
The 1991 Appropriations Act directed the Department of Criminal Justice Services, with assistance from the Department of Youth and Family Services, to evaluate Offices on Youth. The Evaluation was to address "program design, effectiveness and funding structure" and to recommend changes and improvements to the programs. The study team conducted four activities to address the study mandate: (1) a review of the literature on delinquency and prevention; (2) interviews with state officials; (3) surveys of Office on Youth directors, local citizen board chairs, local government administrators, and DYFS regional prevention specialists; and (4) a review of program documentation.
Based on these activities, the study team offers the following recommendations in four broad areas: role of Offices on Youth, funding for Offices on Youth, Department of Youth and Family Services administrative and management responsibilities, and issues for further study.
Role of Offices on Youth
1. The Code of Virginia should be amended to reduce the ambiguity in the role of the Offices on Youth by directing them to provide primary prevention activities.
2. State appropriations should be used by the Offices on Youth to support primary prevention activities for youth as defined in Section 1.1 of the State Board of Youth and Family Services' Minimum Standards for Virginia Delinquency Prevention and Youth Development Act grant programs.
3. The Offices on Youth may continue to administer and operate programs at the discretion of the local Youth Services Citizen Boards using only local funds.
Funding for Offices on Youth
1. The Code of Virginia should be amended to give DYFS the statutory authority to develop and implement a funding formula for allocating state funds under the Delinquency Prevention and Youth Development Act grant program. the General Assembly should decide whether or not to include a "Hold Harmless" clause in the funding formula.
2. The Department of Youth and Family Services should establish a needs-based funding formula for the Offices on Youth by FY 1993. This formula should be used to: (1) prioritize the placement of Offices on Youth; and, (2) establish minimum levels of state funding for Office on Youth programs. The finding formula should include variables which measure known precursors of juvenile delinquency, as well as measures of the service capacity of the community.
3. The Department of Youth and Family Services should work with the Department of Planning and Budget, the Commission on Local Government, the Council for Community Services for Youth and Families and the Department of Criminal Justice Services to determine the appropriate variables for the funding formula.
4. The Department of Youth and Family Services should expand the use of, and create incentives for, multi-jurisdictional Offices on Youth in order to better serve juveniles in all areas of the state.
5. The Department of Youth and Family Services should, with the assistance of the Department of Personnel and Training, develop a pay scale to use in the funding formula and to guide localities in determining the salaries paid to Office on Youth directors and staff.
Department of Youth and Family Services Administrative and Management Responsibilities
1. The Department of Youth and Family Services should increase its level of administrative/programmatic support of the Offices on Youth to better reflect the priority of prevention activities as articulated in the Department's mission statement. This should be accomplished by implementing the following recommendations:
a. The Department of Youth and Family Services should obtain training for Youth Services Board members and DYFS central and regional office staff on the theory and practice of primary prevention;
b. The Department of Youth and Family Services should provide training and technical assistance to local Office on Youth directors, Citizen Boards, and other members of local government on the concepts of primary prevention theory and practice; and,
c. The Department of Youth and Family Services should aggressively pursue alternative state, federal and non-profit sources for training resources.
2. The Department of Youth and Family Services and the State Board of Youth and Family Services should revise current regulations, grant application procedures, and reporting guidelines to better reflect the programmatic emphasis of Offices on Youth on primary prevention.
3. The Department of Youth and Family Services should strengthen the Delinquency Prevention and Youth Development Act grant process to ensure improved administration and quality control of grant activities.
4. The Department of Youth and Family Services should redesign the High Risk Indicator Report to: (1) provide information relative to precursors of delinquency; (2) reflect the programmatic emphasis on primary prevention; (3) correct the deficiencies cited in Chapter 4 of this report. DYFS should consult with the Department of Planning and Budget, the Council on Coordinating Prevention, the Youth Services Commission, and the Department of Criminal Justice Services to develop the Report.
1. The General Assembly should direct the Department of youth and Family Services, in conjunction with the Department of Social Services and the Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services, to determine the appropriate state agency to provide oversight of the Offices on Youth, in light of on-going state initiatives concerning community services for youth and families.
2. In order to improve the coordination of state-level prevention activities and programs, the General Assembly should authorize a study to track the federal, state and local funding streams for prevention efforts. The study should recommend system revisions to enhance program effectiveness and optimum use of state prevention allocations, and should address the development of measures for determining program impacts.
3. As part of the study cited in Recommendation #2 above, a resource document should be developed which identifies federal, state and local prevention initiatives and funding levels. A single state agency, such as the Council on Coordination Prevention, should be responsible for maintaining and updating this resource document on a regular basis.