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Juvenile Justice

Guest Blogger: Mistakes Kids Make Shouldn’t Ruin Their Lives

The following is a guest blog post by the Mistakes Kids Make Initiative. It is a new campaign to raise awareness about the impact of juvenile justice policies on kids, supported by the MacArthur Foundation. A big part of the Initiative is a storytelling campaign aimed at exposing the one-size-fits-all juvenile justice policies that jeopardize kids’ futures and hurt families and communities. Read more about their efforts below and find out how you can get involved in the campaign!

According to the FBI, only five percent of kids who get arrested have committed a violent crime, but the other 95 percent often face the same fate.

In fact, the U.S. incarcerates its kids at a rate that is at least five times the rate of any other nation. As a result, many of these kids witness violence, are separated from their families, and struggle to complete high school, get jobs or go to college when they get out.

A new storytelling project called Mistakes Kids Make sheds light on these startling facts and highlights alternatives, reminding us that the mistakes we make as kids should not ruin the rest of our lives.

Hold kids accountable? Yes. Teach kids responsibility? Absolutely. Help kids become their better selves? Let’s do it. But not at the cost of their chance for a good education, a good job, and a healthy, productive life as they grow.

Many states have outdated, one-size-fits-all sentencing laws on the books, policies that focus more on the offense and not enough on the kid, particularly with regard to kids’ long-term outcomes.

All kids should be held accountable for their choices, but the policies we use to hold them accountable should also take into consideration that these are still kids. They benefit from being held accountable for their actions while also getting the kind of support and other services necessary to learn to make better decisions in the future.

Mistakes Kids Make invites parents, teachers, judges, lawmakers and anyone who can remember what it’s like to be a kid to stand up for kids in their community by signing our pledge to do more, and sharing the message of the need for juvenile justice reform with friends, family and neighbors.

By supporting Mistakes Kids Make, you’re supporting better outcomes for kids, their families and ultimately the rest of us. Be sure to watch the full video here and check out the website at www.MistakesKidsMake.org.
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Funding Opportunity: Two Grants Available to Serve At-Risk and Justice-Involved Youth

The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has two grants available for eligible non-profits that provide training and technical assistance related to at-risk youth and children involved in the juvenile justice system.

The first is the OJJDP FY 2013 VOCA Regional Children's Advocacy Centers Program. It seeks to establish four regional Children’s Advocacy Centers that will develop, train, and coordinate teams to respond to child abuse and neglect. Because these teams will require a great deal of coordination and collaboration, eligible applicants must work in partnership with other programs funded by the VOCA Act. Grants will be up to $1,125,000 and applications are due by May 29, 2013. Read the full grant announcement for more information.

The other available grant is the FY 2013 National Training and Technical Assistance Center for Youth in Custody. The successful applicant will operate the new Training and Technical Assistance Center which will serve the range of facilities in which juveniles are placed, and focus on the rehabilitative goals of juvenile detention. The Center will provide comprehensive training, technical assistance, and resources directly to justice facilities. It will also update and contribute to the knowledge base of best practices. One grant of $400,000 will be awarded. Applications are due May 29, 2013. Read the full grant announcement for more information.

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by Dr. Radut