Government Programs for Troubled Kids
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Government-funded programs for troubled youth can vary greatly in scope. Some focus on prevention of troubled youth activities while others are daily programs mandated for a specified time period to refocus juveniles into more positive acceptable interests.There also are programs providing mentoring to help juveniles make appropriate decisions, while some programs involve removal from society.
Juvenile Accountability Funding
- Juvenile Accountability Incentive Block Grants, first available in 1998, enable states and local governments to apply for funding that supports accountability of the judicial system and juveniles. Programs that qualify for this funding may involve restitution, community service, education, prevention, and training which helps juveniles acknowledge their delinquencies and move forward to make amends. The funding supports increasing the severity of punishments and is directed toward eliminating repeat offenders.
- The federal government also offers grants for community-based programs that assist in preventing teen delinquency, LAs Best is one program, based in California, which was created by Mayor Bradley in 1988. The program is partially funded by federal grants and provides after-school programs to educate juveniles in conflict resolution, sports and other activities at a time that is high risk for juvenile offenses to occur. The program is in 180 elementary schools in the Los Angeles area and was designed as a preventive measure to curtail teen delinquency by redirecting children in high-risk neighborhoods before they reach their teen years.
- Big Brothers Big Sisters Program of America receives federal funding and provides juveniles with a positive role model and supervision. Mentor volunteers are often students or younger adults, but more mature adults can also become mentors. Children are usually from economically depressed, high risk areas, and mentoring training is provided. Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, started by Ernest Coulter in 1904, is a nationwide program that originated as a Big Brothers program and later merged with a church program mentoring girls.
Youth Teen Courts
- The federal government also provides funding, support, and training for youth teen courts, which have been implemented in almost every state. Youth teen court programs are used for less serious offenses and teach the court system to teens adjudicating and delinquents. The Urban Institute conducted a three-year study evaluating the results of four youth teen courts and concluded, in 2002, that juveniles judged by their peers were less likely to become repeat offenders.