For Immediate Release: 2/14/2017
State of New York | Executive Chamber
Andrew M. Cuomo | Governor
Governor Cuomo Announces $650,000 in Federal Funding to Launch Pilot Youth Justice Initiative in the Mohawk Valley
Second Chance Act Grant will Fund New Upstate Juvenile Community Supervision Project to Assist Mohawk Valley Youth Under Community Supervision
Initiative Designed to Reduce Recidivism and Improve Outcomes for those on Probation and Returning Home to Communities
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that New York State has been awarded $650,000 in federal funding to implement a pilot program in the Mohawk Valley to reduce recidivism and improve outcomes for youth under community supervision. The “Second Chance Act” Grant will support a partnership between the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services and Kids Oneida, a non-profit organization in Utica, to establish the Upstate Juvenile Community Supervision Project throughout six counties in the Mohawk Valley.
“This funding will provide resources to help break the vicious cycle of recidivism and help at-risk youth in the Mohawk Valley better reintegrate into society and lead more productive lives,” Governor Cuomo said. “Expanding access to these critical services will help turn their lives around, increase public safety and create a stronger New York for all.”
The Upstate Juvenile Community Supervision Project will help Kids Oneida serve youth throughout the Mohawk Valley who are under probation supervision, returning home after a juvenile delinquency placement, and 16- and 17-year-olds who are at risk of committing new crimes. The services provided through this initiative will supplement existing probation and re-entry services that are currently available in Herkimer, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego and Oswego Counties.
Kids Oneida serves families and youth who have social, emotional and behavioral challenges. The funding will support a variety of new initiatives, including training, the development of a trauma screening tool and staff. Kids Oneida recently hired a new reintegration coordinator who will work with youth in placement and their families to help ensure a successful transition back to their communities. The Upstate Juvenile Community Supervision Project also will allow the organization to assist youth and families by connecting them with a network of community-based programs, which will provide skill building, mentoring, family engagement, family skills training and family therapy to reduce recidivism and racial and ethnic disparities in the youth justice system.
Division of Criminal Justice Services Executive Deputy Commissioner Michael C. Green said, “This program will connect youth and their families with comprehensive, evidence-based practices tailored to the meet their unique needs. Ultimately, our hope is that this model can be employed in other regions throughout the state so that we can effect true and meaningful youth justice reform.”
Kids Oneida CEO/Executive Director Steven Bulger said, “Kids Oneida has a long history of empowering youth and their families so they can live healthy, productive lives. We are thrilled to partner with New York State on this model project, which will allow us to provide additional services to at-risk children and teens and their parents that will make a difference in their lives and improve the safety of our communities. We thank Governor Cuomo for his efforts to reform the state’s youth justice system and federal partners for their continued support of Second Chance Act funding, which makes this project possible.”
Trauma screening of all youth involved with probation is a key component of the project. Grant funding will be used to develop a screening tool so probation departments in the six counties can identify youth who have experienced trauma so they can be connected with additional services for evaluation and treatment. At the same time, service providers also will be trained so they can better understand the impact that trauma has on youth development.
Funding to implement the Upstate Juvenile Community Supervision Project comes from the federal Second Chance Act, which is designed to help communities across the country reduce recidivism by providing better services to individuals with criminal convictions or Family Court adjudications. The Office of Youth Justice at DCJS applied for the $650,000 implementation funding after partnering with Kids Oneida to design the model project; that planning process also was funded through an $180,000 Second Chance Act grant.
In addition to applying for competitive grant funding, the Office of Youth Justice has a variety of responsibilities, including but not limited to administering grants provided to New York State through the federal Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act; oversees the state’s juvenile justice plan; and monitoring the extent to which racial and ethnic disparities occur in the juvenile justice system. It also collaborates with the state Office of Children and Family Services, which directly serves youths involved in the state’s juvenile and criminal justice systems.
Congressman Paul Tonko said, “Youth recidivism is not an unbreakable pattern. Taking early steps to reconnect these young people with support systems in their community can help change the course of their lives. Congratulations to Kids Oneida for their leadership in helping young people in our region build job skills, find hope and get on a path to a better life.”
Since taking office, Governor Cuomo has made improving the state’s criminal and youth justice systems a priority. The Governor’s 2017 Criminal Justice Reform Act includes a provision that would raise the age of criminal responsibility in New York State to 18. New York and North Carolina remain the only states in the nation that prosecute 16- and 17-year-olds as adults.
The state Division of Criminal Justice Services (www.criminaljustice.ny.gov) is a criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including law enforcement training; collection and analysis of statewide crime data; maintenance of criminal history information and fingerprint files; administrative oversight of the state’s DNA databank, in partnership with the New York State Police; funding and oversight of probation and community correction programs; administration of federal and state criminal justice funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the state’s Sex Offender Registry.