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The most effective decision making involves the people a decision impacts most. For decision making at the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), that means soliciting input from youth directly impacted by the justice system and the people who know them best—their families.
As Administrator, involving and listening to young people and their families will be a standard business practice at OJJDP, and in order to do this effectively, our Office recently launched OJJDP’s Youth and Family Partnership Working Group. This internal working group, comprising OJJDP program managers and policy staff, will develop recommendations for Office activities, establish best practices, and assess our programs and performance measures. Input from the working group will influence how OJJDP functions and help to ensure that the programs we fund address the wants and needs of the youth they serve.
A primary assignment for the working group will be to update policy guidance on youth and family engagement. The group will also develop a strategic plan that will inform how OJJDP elevates the voices of youth and families, so that our partnerships are both authentic and effective. The plan will outline how our Office applies best practices in every aspect of our work—from mentoring programs and violence prevention initiatives to the training and technical assistance we offer.
Young people understand their own needs, wants, and expectations. They know the best ways to frame messages intended for their peers, and the best forums for delivering them. To be legitimate, OJJDP’s work must be informed by youth. I am excited to launch the Youth and Family Partnership Working Group, and I look forward to hearing from the field on how OJJDP can move forward on this important endeavor.