Appropriations 2022: Reinvesting in America's Youth

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This Youth Justice Action Month, we call on Congress to invest in our young people and their futures. This May, President Joe Biden released his fiscal year 2022 proposed budget, which proposed $796 million for the Office of Justice Programs’ (OJP) Juvenile Justice Programs. If approved, this would be the largest allocation in the history of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) since its original passing in 1974. As our young people and their communities reenter school and attempt to recover from two years of collective and individual trauma, now more than ever, it is important to make sure our youth are adequately protected.


Between 2002 and 2018, juvenile justice spending decreased dramatically. From a high of $546.9 million in fiscal year 2002, to a low of $244 million in fiscal year 2014, the funding for juvenile justice programs has been on the decline for several years. This pattern has been consistent regardless of the administration, with similar numbers reflected in the Bush and Obama administrations, and with a slight increase since the JJDPA’s most recent reauthorization in 2018. While fiscal year 2021 reported a recent high of $359 million, this remains a far cry from the 2002 reenactment value, 34.4% lower than the $546.9 million granted then.


Congress has been reviewing the proposed budget since June 2021, and narrowly avoided shutdown on September 30 after President Biden signed the continuing resolution passed by the Senate and the House earlier that same day. The continuing resolution allows the government to remain functioning through December 3, 2021, while Congress continues to consider the budget.


We call on members of Congress to support a final spending package for youth justice programs that is at a minimum level with that proposed by the House Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Committee. On July 19, 2021, the House passed the CJS Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2022, which approved $494 million for juvenile justice programs, distributed as follows.

$80 million for Title II State Formula Grants (increased from $67 million in FY ‘21)

$110 million for youth mentoring (increased from $100 million in FY ‘21)

$60 million for Title V Local Delinquency Prevention Program (increased from $49 million in FY ‘21)

$6 million for grants to prevent trafficking of girls (increased from $2 million in FY ‘21)

$14 million for the Tribal Youth Program (increased from $10 million in FY ‘21)

$500,000 for a website providing information and resources on children of incarcerated parents

$9 million for competitive grant programs focusing on girls in the youth legal system (increased from $3 million in FY ‘21)

$12 million for initiatives relating to youth affected by opioids, stimulants, and other substance abuse (increase from $10 million in FY ‘21)

$10 million for children exposed to violence (increased from $8 million in FY ‘21)

$8.5 million unallocated funds remain for programs that may quality for youth PROMISE grants 

$40 million for programs authorized under the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990 (increased from $30 million in FY ’21)

$109 million for missing and exploited children programs (increased from $94 million in FY ’21)

$5 million for child abuse training programs for judicial personnel and practitioners (increased from $3.5 million in FY ‘21)

$10 million for programs to improve juvenile indigent defense (increased from $2.5 million in FY ‘21)

$50 million for an initiative for community-based alternatives to youth incarceration (New funding)

$10 million for a community violence intervention initiative (New funding)

$20 million for the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant program (last funded FY ’14)


While this approved $494 million would be a significant increase from recent years, it is far short of the $796 million President Biden initially proposed, and even of the 2002 high of $546.9 million. Thus far, the bill has only been approved by the House, and there is potential for the Senate to reduce this allocation even further. Our children need us to prevent this from happening.


In order for our young people to get the support that they need before entering and while in the juvenile justice system, it is imperative that Congress pass the budget with President Biden’s proposed $796 million for juvenile justice programs. With the COVID-19 pandemic and renewed focus on social justice issues, now is the optimal time to increase the funding for juvenile justice programs. We have seen the devastating impact that incarceration can have on children, and rather than continue this cycle of harm, funds need to be diverted to invest in communities and protection for children.

Contact your Members of Congress and demand they reconsider the proposed budget allocation and pass a budget that appropriately addresses the needs of our children:


by Lauren Munday 


Member for
53 years 9 months