HD73 - Evaluation of the Virginia Juvenile Community Crime Control Act
A. TRAINING AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
The VJCCCA represents a change in how localities assess service needs in their communities. It also requires them to develop and evaluate community-based programs to meet those needs. Because many localities have no previous experience in such endeavors, the importance of the Department of Juvenile Justice's (DJJ) responsibility for training the field in what constitutes best practices in juvenile justice programming cannot be overemphasized.
In order to support thorough local needs assessments, innovation in program development, and evaluation, the Department of Juvenile Justice should dedicate one position to the VJCCCA in each Regional Office. As the VJCCCA is the largest community initiative for Department of Juvenile Justice, it is recommended that the agency deploy existing staff to support the VJCCCA at the regional level.
The Department of Juvenile Justice should continue to sponsor an annual statewide conference to provide participating localities the opportunity to share strategies on needs assessment, program development and modification, and evaluation.
Given the diversity of experience in local program development and evaluation, the Department of Juvenile Justice should provide on-going training opportunities on the regional or multi-jurisdictional level to match the divergent skill levels of local providers. Training should address assessment, program development, and evaluation issues.
The Department of Juvenile Justice and Office of the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court should collaborate to develop training on the VJCCCA for the Juvenile Court Judges.
B. STATE LEVEL ADMINISTRATION
While responsibility for implementation of the VJCCCA rests with individual communities, the role of DJJ as the central administrative agency is integral to the success of the program. During the implementation phases, the DJJ Central Office was responsible for developing administrative polices and accountability procedures. This responsibility is critical as the program continues to grow. Given the diversity of the state, the participating localities need a point of contact to insure consistent policy direction statewide. Given the size and scope of the VJCCCA, localities and DJJ will require a process by which both can address program issues on an on-going basis. Further, in order for the VJCCCA to be accountable, data systems on the state and local levels must be established and monitored to ensure the program is meeting its goals.
The five positions and corresponding funding were allocated with the legislative intent of providing positions devoted solely to the VJCCCA. Currently the responsibility for the implementation and monitoring of the Act on the local level is placed within the Regional Offices, which have a myriad of responsibilities. Given the size and complexity of the program, oversight cannot be divided among other tasks for which the Regional offices are responsible.
The Department of Juvenile Justice should elevate the position of the VJCCCA Coordinator to report directly to the Deputy Director of Programs. The VJCCCA Coordinator should be explicitly tasked with the responsibility of VJCCCA policy development and facilitation of communication to field to ensure consistent interpretation of the Act throughout the state.
The Department of Juvenile Justice should develop an Ad Hoc Advisory Committee comprised of local providers, local government officials, and members of the Department of Juvenile Justice Board to provide policy oversight and direction to the VJ CCCA.
To insure that accurate and timely data addressing fiscal and program evaluation issues is collected from localities, one position within the Data Management Unit should be devoted to the VJCCCA.
The Department of Juvenile Justice should present annually at the Virginia Municipal League and Virginia Association of Counties Conference to inform local government officials of the progress of the VJCCCA.
C. LOCAL FISCAL ISSUES
With the establishment of the VJCCCA, there is now financial support for localities to respond to their juvenile justice populations. The VJCCCA is a form of partnership between state and local governments. As such, the role of the local unit of government in the administration and support of the program is of tremendous importance. To improve this partnership, localities should take steps to strengthen program reporting and accountability for VJCCCA services.
The Code of Virginia should be amended to clarify that local fiscal reporting is the responsibility of the local financial officer.
The Department of Juvenile Justice should encourage localities to have independent audits to review their VJCCCA allocations and expenditures.
D. STATE FISCAL ISSUES
Localities' participation in the VJCCCA is voluntary. However, when localities choose to receive the funds, they must make a good faith effort not to reduce the level of their local financial support to programs serving their juvenile justice populations. Establishment of Maintenance of Effort in the Code was an attempt to insure that the local level of support for juvenile justice programs was not diminished following the infusion of state dollars. Admittedly, with the enactment of the Comprehensive Services Act, the dollars to provide services to the juvenile justice population, otherwise known as the non-mandated population, have become difficult to identify locally.
Many localities having small juvenile populations and hence low crime rates have received minimal dollars through the VJCCCA. In order to provide a funding level at which every locality can develop programs, a funding floor is suggested. Conversely, it is also recommended that larger localities' allocations be increased incrementally until they receive the amount to which the funding formula entitles them.
Maintenance of Effort should be calculated based on all non-Comprehensive Services Act placements to Block Grant programs and services for 1995. Amendments to the Code and the Budget Bill should be drafted to clarify this intent. However, the General Assembly may want to consider the imposition of two different types of Maintenance of Effort based on program ownership.
Because the Maintenance of Effort will require 42 localities to increase their share, these localities should be given two years to phase in their new Maintenance of Effort level.
A funding floor should be established for the smaller localities based on the mid-range allocation to the lowest quartile of funding and recalculated by the Department of Juvenile Justice on a biennial basis.
The ceiling for localities should be increased in $50,000 increments on an annual basis until all localities receive the funding to which they are entitled, based on the formula.