by Derek S. Limburg
On July 29, 2008, North Carolina’s State Auditor issued a report on the state’s oversight of juvenile delinquency prevention programs. The audit focused on three areas, all related to Juvenile Crime Prevention Councils (JCPCs).
Each of the 100 counties in North Carolina has a JCPC. The councils share a $23 million annual budget and use that money to fund and maintain local treatment and counseling programs for at-risk youth. The JCPCs are under the management of the Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (DJJDP).
The first area of concern in the audit was to determine if the local JCPCs had financial or program evaluation conflicts of interest. JCPC members not only allocate funds, but also evaluate the effectiveness of the funded programs.
Some JCPC members operate programs they are responsible for funding and evaluating; although the audit found no actual abuses, the members’ conflicting duties created “the potential for abuse and inequity.”
According to the audit, 14 of the councils had local program employees operating as JCPC board members. In the 2006-2007 fiscal year (FY), those members accounted for 17 of the 499 programs that received JCPC funding. Six of those 17 received more than 50% of the total funds disbursed in the counties where they were located.
For example, the StillWaters counseling program received $59,261, or 88%, of the $67,497 in funding allocated by the Pamlico County JCPC.
The audit’s second area of concern had to do with inadequate monitoring of grant-funded programs. Neither DJJDP nor JCPC had performed required monitoring visits, according to the audit.
For JCPC-funded programs, DJJDP policy requires area consultants to perform on-site visits and complete the proper paperwork after a program has been operating for one year. JCPCs are also required to establish monitoring committees that make annual visits.
The visits are to ensure adherence to program standards, state and federal laws, and contract terms; they are also to detect any dangers to juveniles and staff. Inadequate monitoring increases the possibility that the DJJDP will not timely identify risks to juveniles served by the programs.
As part of the audit, 30 JCPC-funded programs in operation for over a year were selected at random. Monitoring documentation was then examined. Only one of the 30 programs had been properly visited and documented by DJJDP area consultants. Only seven of the 30 programs that were reviewed had been properly visited and documented by a JCPC monitoring committee.
The audit’s third area of concern was a lack of training for the Client Tracking System (CTS). Program management admitted they did not have the training required to operate the computerized CTS.
For FY 2006-2007, the audit randomly selected 26 programs and compared the actual numbers of juveniles served to the numbers reported in a state database. About 85% of the database’s figures were found to be inaccurate.
The database indicated a total of 2,089 youths had participated in the reviewed programs. However, the actual number was 1,690 – an overstatement of 24%. One program had overstated the number of youth participants by 188%, indicating 95 were served when the real number was 33.
The DJJDP concurred with all of the State Auditor’s recommendations for improvements, including barring program directors and managers from serving on JCPCs in the county where the programs are located. The North Carolina State Auditor’s July 2008 report, titled Oversight of Juvenile Crime Prevention Council-Funded Programs, is available on PLN’s website.
Additional source: www.charlotte.com
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