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Gov. Scott’s 2014 - 2015 Budget Continues Focus on Juvenile Delinquency Prevention

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 29, 2014

CONTACT:

Meghan Speakes Collins

meghan.speakes@djj.state.fl.us

(850) 544-5387

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Gov. Scott’s 2014 - 2015 Budget Continues Focus on Juvenile Delinquency Prevention

 

Tallahassee, Fla. - Gov. Rick Scott’s 2014-2015 It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget is being praised once again by child advocates for continuing to focus on prevention services for Florida’s at-risk youth.

“Gov. Scott's recommendations demonstrate his commitment to the continued success of Florida's youth and families. With continued investments in preventing juvenile delinquency, this budget will enable the department to continue its emphasis on prevention and helping at-risk and delinquent youth turn around their lives,” said DJJ Secretary Wansley Walters. 

The Department of Juvenile Justice began a targeted approach to juvenile reform when it launched its Roadmap to System Excellence in November 2012. The Roadmap, a detailed plan developed with statewide community and stakeholder input, is leading the agency to improved results for youth, families and communities as well as providing significant savings to the taxpayers of Florida.

Dedicating resources  at the front end of the juvenile justice system is a strategy that has proven successful. 

Data released by the Department continues to show that delinquency in Florida is declining in all categories. The number of juvenile arrests has reached a low, dropping 23% when compared to 2011 and the number of youth arrested for delinquency dropped by 24%. DJJ has seen significant improvement in key juvenile justice indicators including:

• Decrease in the number of school-based arrests by 27%;

• Decrease in the number of youth transferred to adult court by 36%;

• Decrease in the number of felony drug arrests by 28%; and,

• Decrease in the number of arrests for aggravated assault and battery by 20%. 

“The declines in delinquency show that our approach is working and we must continue our focus on prevention and front-end services,” said Walters. “By serving youth in their communities with their families, we are not only providing services in a more appropriate environment but we’re saving taxpayers’ money.”

Building on the  investment in prevention and diversion efforts  Gov. Scott’s It’s Your Money 2014-2015 Budget includes $637,500 for additional gender responsive programming specifically targeting at-risk girls. In addition to traditional education opportunities, this programming includes counseling and training. Girls are a distinct population and offering gender responsive programming allows DJJ to address their unique needs.

The budget also dedicates $1.5 million to develop risk assessment tools and a comprehensive continuum of care for  victims of human trafficking.  A comprehensive continuum of care will provide these children with the necessary protection and specialized services needed.

Additional highlights of the recommended FY 2014-15 budget include:

  • $18.2 million to continue funds for behavior health overlay services (BHOS) for youth in residential care. This ensures behavior health emergency care, crisis management, individual and group therapy, family therapy, clinical counseling, and emergency and inpatient medical care will continue to be provided to youth who depend on these essential services. These services were previously provided through reimbursement from the Agency for Health Care Administration;
  • $17.2 million to adjust the state’s responsibility for youth in secure detention based on a recent ruling by the 1st District Courts of Appeal; and   
  • $2.9 million for repair and maintenance funding to address critical health and safety issues in DJJ facilities.

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING ABOUT…

Gov. Scott’s It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget for Juvenile Justice

Chief Philip Thorne, president, Florida Police Chiefs Association: Law Enforcement thanks Gov. Scott for showing his support to families and public safety through funding the Department of Juvenile Justice, said Florida Police Chiefs Association President and Springfield Police Chief Philip Thorne. Providing prevention services for at-risk youth and their families is a hopeful step toward reducing juvenile crime, while funding the Detention Centers ensures we have a place to put those who present a danger to the public.

Deborah Polston, Statewide Advocate for Human Trafficking: With the development of a comprehensive continuum of care, Florida is embarking on an innovative philosophy for service delivery to the survivors of human trafficking. I applaud Gov. Scott and the It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget for continuing to address survivors’ unique and complicated needs. 

Alan F. Abramowitz, executive director, Florida Guardian ad Litem: Our thousands of volunteers dedicate their time to helping children, and I greatly appreciate Gov. Scott and Secretary Walters for making our state's children and families a priority.  I am confident we will continue seeing positive outcomes for our state's youth and safer communities for everyone.

Cathy Craig-Myers, Executive Director, Florida Juvenile Justice Association: Florida has the nation’s largest, centrally organized juvenile-justice agency, and we are fortunate to also have the greatest array of available services in the country. The data shows we are moving in the right direction and I am pleased that the It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget will enable the Department of Juvenile Justice to continue providing the services that have proven to be effective.     

Mary Marx, President and CEO, PACE Center for Girls: Across the state we have seen dramatic declines in the rate of girls’ arrests and we applaud Gov. Scott’s focus on community prevention and early intervention services to stem the tide of girls’ involvement in the juvenile justice system.   The Governor’s Budget will enable PACE to provide critical education, counseling, training and advocacy to more girls in Florida, increasing their chances of success in school, at home and in their communities. PACE is a nationally recognized leader in helping keep girls out of the juvenile justice system and we are grateful for the opportunity to help even more young women in Florida reach their full potential.

Stacy Gromatski, President and CEO, Florida Network of Youth and Family Services: The It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget stays the course on dedicating resources to expanding community prevention and front-end diversion services and Florida is realizing the benefits of this path. We are thrilled Gov. Scott’s budget recommendations build on the progress made by shifting the focus to reaching youth early – before they touch the juvenile justice system.