OJJDP Publishes Results of Training and Technical Assistance Needs Assessment
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OJJDP's National Training and Technical Assistance Center (NTTAC) has released National Needs Assessment of Juvenile Justice Professionals: 2010, a report that provides the most comprehensive and detailed picture to date of the needs of agencies and organizations serving the juvenile justice field. More than 1,600 juvenile justice professionals from across the country completed the survey, which was available online from October 19, 2009, through January 22, 2010. The primary populations served by respondents are at-risk youth and youth on parole, probation, or under community supervision.

Survey participants were asked to rate their needs in five categories: program operations, information technology, sustainability, working with youth, and topics of interest. Respondents rated their needs using a five-point scale—from "1 (no assistance needed)" to "5 (a great deal of assistance needed)." The following items were identified by respondents as areas of greatest need:

Program Operations

  • Implementing evidence-based practices.
  • Performance measurement.
  • Program evaluation.

Information Technology

  • Information sharing within and among agencies.
  • Juvenile record systems/data collection.
  • Obtaining/using technological equipment.
  • Staff training on technology.

Sustainability

  • Planning for future sustainability.
  • Generating buy-in at the federal, state, and local levels.
  • Institutionalizing mental health initiatives.
  • Leveraging and managing funds and other resources.
  • Incorporating evaluation results into sustainability planning.

Working With Youth

  • Evidence-based practices for working with mentally ill youth.
  • Evidence-based practices for working with substance-using or -abusing youth.
  • Involving youth in the planning, development, and implementation of programs.
  • Training staff to effectively interact with youth.
  • Approaches for dealing with gang-involved youth, violent offenders, and chronic offenders.

Other Topics of Interest

  • Evidence-based practices and programs.
  • Emerging trends in juvenile justice research.
  • Intervention services, programs, and strategies.
  • Problem-solving courts (e.g., drug courts, gun courts, teen courts, and mental health courts).

Survey participants were asked to select the types of assistance that would be helpful. The majority of respondents cited peer-to-peer learning, conference-style training, and training of trainers as the most effective forms of assistance.

The survey also requested information about the greatest challenges to providing effective services. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of the respondents cited a lack of adequate funding and resources as the primary challenge. Other barriers to effective services included a lack of support for prevention efforts and a lack of adequate training and technical assistance for staff members.

Sixty-four percent of the respondents intended to use the information learned from OJJDP-sponsored training to implement evidence-based programming; 57 percent planned to improve outreach, treatment, and supervision of their target populations; and 51 percent cited securing funding as a primary application of the OJJDP training they receive.

Top 10 Unmet Training Needs

Following are the areas most often cited by respondents as having unmet training needs:

  • Funding, resources, and grant writing.
  • Partnerships and collaboration.
  • Evidence-based practices and programs.
  • Staff development.
  • Mental health.
  • Sustainability.
  • Cultural competency.
  • Program evaluation.
  • Information technology.
  • Working with the community.

Top 10 Emerging Trends and Issues

The survey participants also offered their perspectives on the most important emerging trends and issues in the juvenile justice field. The top 10 issues cited by survey participants were—

  • Disproportionate minority contact.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Lack of programs and services.
  • Mental health.
  • Prevention and early intervention.
  • Issues related to parents and family of youth.
  • Evidence-based programs and practices.
  • Gender.
  • Alternatives to detention and incarceration.
  • Reentry and rehabilitation.

Established in 1995, NTTAC helps practitioners and communities indentify and implement evidence-based prevention and intervention programs to address juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, and other issues affecting youth in the juvenile justice system.

Resource:

National Needs Assessment of Juvenile Justice Professionals: 2010 may be accessed at the NTTAC Web site.