Legislative Background of the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention

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Prepared by Emily Pelletier
John Jay College of Criminal Justice

The National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention began in 2010 as a federal partnership involving the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education and soon included the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Service, Housing and Urban Development, and the Office on National Drug Control Policy. The National Forum gathers diverse stakeholders from federal, state, and local governments along with community partners from the private and nonprofit sectors to resolve common challenges and coordinate actions to prevent and reduce youth violence (About the National Forum 2016). The federal government supports the Forum with training, technical assistance and a modest amount of grant funding for participating cities (Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act 2012).

In 2011, the Department of Justice requested $6,000,000 as part of the 2012 federal budget for the Forum to “[create] a context for participating localities to share challenges and promising strategies with each other and to explore how federal agencies can better support local efforts” (Department of Justice 2011: 26). The President included the DOJ request in the federal budget for Fiscal Year 2012 (Office of Budget and Management 2011). Funding was intended to help Forum cities to create comprehensive plans for preventing youth violence and to encourage innovation at the local level. Training was to focus on a range of topics, including but not limited to data collection, data analysis, and coordination of information management systems (Department of Justice 2011).

Introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and the US Senate as parallel bills, Congress passed the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2012, which funded the National Forum. Ultimately, legislation provided funds for the Forum through a Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, allocating $3,000,000 for “participating cities to share challenges and promising strategies, and develop or enhance effective comprehensive plans to prevent youth and gang violence in their cities, using multidisciplinary partnerships, balanced approaches, and data-driven strategies,” with the aim to “reduce violence, improve opportunities for youth and improve public safety, and encourage innovation at the local level and Federal levels” (S. REP. NO. 112-78 2011). The House and Senate agreed on a final allocation of $2,000,000 to support grants and technical assistance (H. REP. NO. 112-284 2011). Language for the National Forum appeared in the final budget as a designation of funds for local grants and technical assistance.

The Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) issued a solicitation for a training and technical assistance project under the authorization of the federal budget (Department of Justice 2012). The solicitation sought to identify a technical assistance provider to support the work of cities participating in the National Forum on Youth Violence. The solicitation cited three primary goals of the technical assistance team: (1) elevate youth and gang violence as an issue of national significance; (2) enhance the capacity of participating localities to more effectively prevent youth and gang violence; and (3) expand engagement, collaboration, and coordination to promote systems and policy change in addressing youth violence at the national, state, and local levels (Department of Justice 2012).

In subsequent years, the federal budget included similar, but reduced appropriations. The Consolidated and Furthering Appropriations Act of 2013 provided $2,000,000 to the Forum for grants and technical assistance, while the 2014 and 2015 federal budgets provided $1,000,000 (Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act 2013; Consolidated Appropriations Act 2014; Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act 2015).