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Mr. LATHAM. Mr. Chair, because of limited funding resources, the Subcommittee was not able to provide funding, as requested by the Office of Juvenile Justice, for a needed evidence-based competitive juvenile justice demonstration grant program. This type of a program would allow for new, innovative practices that may well lead to comprehensive change which, in turn, would likely produce better outcomes in treating at-risk juveniles.
A number of Members requested that the Subcommittee consider amending the Administration request to provide, within existing levels of funding in this bill, competitive grant program funding for qualified non-profit, private youth and family service organizations that can provide an Integrated Continuum of treatment services and programs for at-risk youth and their families.
We believe this approach is still important because it is estimated that 70 percent of youth in the juvenile justice system suffer from mental health issues, substance abuse, and/or learning disabilities. Most of these juveniles require an integrated, comprehensive treatment in order to allow them to succeed within their peer groups and families, in school, on jobs, or in their communities. Just as important, the families of most at-risk juveniles also require services and treatment programs to ensure that a juvenile's home environment is addressed.
There is a wide range of existing national, regional and state-wide, nonprofit qualified youth and family serving organizations that can provide evidenced-based, integrated continuum treatment services and programs for at-risk juveniles and their families. However most, if not all, of the existing program funding opportunities only provide funding for limited services and treatments for at-risk juveniles. They do not allow, where necessary, services and treatment programs for the families of juveniles.
Using an integrated continuum is critical to providing programs and services (including mental health and drug treatment), for both juveniles and their families, that will result in juveniles being permanently returned to improved home environments and becoming productive citizens. Early evidence suggests that an integrated approach is preferable to isolated and limited programs, because the integrated approach shows more promising potential for keeping youth out of the juvenile justice system and avoiding further arrest and recidivism.
Mr. Chair, I hope we can work with you, through the process, as your bill moves forward, to see if we can find a way to dedicate some resources to this integrated continuum of comprehensive services and treatment programs for both at-risk juveniles and their families.