Acting U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes announced today that the Puget Sound Educational Service District and the University of Washington will share a Department of Justice grant of nearly $1.5 million to improve school safety by early intervention with at-risk students. The grant is part of $63 million being awarded nationwide as part of the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative (CSSI). CSSI is a large-scale, multi-agency research effort to build knowledge about effective approaches to increasing school safety nationwide.
“This grant will help identify ways to keep at-risk kids in school and create safer schools for all,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “The University of Washington will take a rigorous look at the data on early interventions to identify programs that successfully prevent anti-social behavior before it starts.”
In addition to the research grant, the City of Seattle was awarded a $20,000 grant to become part of the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention. As part of the program, Seattle is eligible for an additional $100,000 once it develops a plan to align and coordinate existing resources, engage in community outreach, and increase the engagement of youth, the faith community, law enforcement, victim services and others to combat youth violence.
Through the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative, the Office of Justice Programs’ National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is funding 24 research projects under two different solicitations. The first, “Investigator-Initiated Research,” includes nine awards to research organizations totaling more than $18 million. The second, “Developing Knowledge about What Works to Make Schools Safe,” provides more than $45 million to 15 school districts and their research partners. The Western Washington grant is in the second group.
“We know a great deal about how to make schools safe in general but very little about the specifics for various settings and populations,” said Dr. William J. Sabol, Acting Director of NIJ. “With this $63 million investment, the nation will gain an understanding of school safety that is scientifically sound, practical, and that can be easily interpreted and used by schools.”
President Obama’s January 2013 plan to end gun violence emphasized keeping guns out of potentially dangerous hands and recognized that additional actions are needed to make our schools safer. CSSI was launched in early 2014 in response to a Congressional request for a broad, research-based effort to increase safety in the nation’s schools.
The initiative has three primary goals: to collect national-level data; to convene stakeholders to identify and share best practices; and to conduct innovative research and evaluate pilot projects in school districts. The programs and policies within CSSI are designed to produce evidence about what works in such areas of school safety as effectiveness of school resource officers and mental health professionals, violence and bullying reduction, and effectiveness of such restorative justice interventions as youth courts. The initiative will also examine potential unintended consequences of school safety efforts, including the excessive use of exclusionary discipline and arrests of students.
Specifically, the grant to the Puget Sound Education Service District and the University of Washington calls for the evaluation of a three-step early warning and intervention process that identifies students at risk and matches effective, brief interventions to meet their needs. The process is designed to shift schools away from disproportionate, reactive and punitive discipline towards a more proactive and positive approach.
The National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention aims to build a national conversation about youth and gang violence to increase awareness, drive action, and build local capacity to more effectively address youth violence. It models a new kind of federal and local collaboration, encouraging its members to change the way they do business by sharing common challenges and promising strategies, through comprehensive planning and coordinated action. Currently active in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, and Salinas and San Jose, California, today DOJ announced the addition of Long Beach, California; Cleveland, Ohio; Louisville, Kentucky; Seattle, Washington; and Baltimore, Maryland.
Although NIJ has primary responsibility for CSSI, the program is a collaborative effort among more than 20 federal partners, including the Departments of Justice, Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and the Treasury. This partnership will allow the federal government to make a significant impact on school safety by investing limited funds in research that has practical applications for every school in the nation. By determining what interventions work best for specific schools and students, CSSI will provide professionals with a body of knowledge to help them make decisions about which programs will be most effective — and most cost effective — for their particular schools and their challenges.
A list of the awards and more information about CSSI are available at www.nij.gov, keywords: “School Safety.”
The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Assistant Attorney General Karol V. Mason provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has six bureaus and offices: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office for Victims of Crime; and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART).