Since 2009, the Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs at Rutgers University–Camden has been leading community stakeholders in Cumberland County – initially first in Vineland, then later in Bridgeton and Millville as well – in an unprecedented effort to identify potential policies, practices, and programs which could prevent or reduce juvenile delinquency.Now, as a testament to the program’s extraordinary success, the Rutgers policy research center will work in tandem with Burlington County community officials and leaders to lead juvenile delinquency prevention efforts in the county.
Officially launched in late February, the Burlington County Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Effort will begin operating in the municipalities of Burlington City, Pemberton Township, and Willingboro.
“The Rand Institute is honored and proud to have been invited by Burlington County leaders to staff and provide technical assistance to this juvenile delinquency prevention effort,” says Tracy Swan-Grova, senior project administrator for the Senator Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs. “This speaks volumes about not only our work in Cumberland, but also in helping Camden and Trenton get their juvenile delinquency prevention efforts off the ground.”
The Burlington County initiative includes a coalition of stakeholders from each municipality who will analyze and identify trends that can be addressed in order to reduce and prevent juvenile crime. Coalition members will also review the risks and protective factors in each municipality that lead to or protect against juvenile delinquency, discussing issues and potential solutions with experts, practitioners, and those familiar with the various systems in which juveniles come in contact.
Consistent with efforts in Cumberland County, the Rutgers–Camden policy research center will help collect, analyze, map, and present census and crime data for members, as well as research and present evidenced-based, best practices from across the country.
Based on the vast amount of data and information analyzed, along with identification of strengths and weaknesses existing in each municipality, the coalition will develop and implement a plan to reduce and ultimately prevent youth from committing crimes and entering the criminal justice system.
“From what I have seen so far, this group is engaged, eager, and willing to do what it takes to promote positive youth development and reduce juvenile risky behaviors,” says Swan. “We look forward to the challenge.”