HARRIS COUNTY– (May 12, 2021) – the Harris County Justice Administration Department (JAD) is now seeking proposals from qualifying organizations to serve as the intermediary for the Youth Justice Community Reinvestment Funds. The first of its kind in Texas, the Fund will help re-envision public safety for youth in Harris County by investing in community programs that prevent youth involvement in crime and youth incarceration. The Youth Justice Community Reinvestment Fund was created by Commissioners Court to address racial disparities in juvenile detention and is part of a bold new approach to justice that prioritizes the investment in communities most impacted by incarceration.
"Transforming the Youth Justice System requires us to reverse and correct the historic de-investment in Black and Brown communities that undermined the social safety net for young people and their families. We hope that this funding opportunity will start repairing the damage that has been done and begin healing generational trauma,” said Assata Richards, Redefining Youth Justice Coalition.
A community reinvestment fund is a “teach a man to fish” model in which a backbone/intermediary nonprofit organization will award grants to grassroots direct service providers, and actively partners with them to strengthen their organizational capacity, improve the delivery of their services, and monitor whether their services are effectively assisting youth in the long term.
"Addressing the factors associated with juvenile justice involvement should be done at the community level, but to do this, these needed services and support have to be available in the impacted communities. For that to happen, true community-based providers need to have the resources, and the Juvenile Justice Community Reinvestment Fund can help make this happen,“ said Henry Gonzalez, Executive Director of the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department. “Dependence on system involvement to receive needed services and supports should not be the case, whether it’s the juvenile justice system, the child welfare system, or the mental health system. A community reinvestment fund can help impacted communities address the needs of young people involved in the juvenile justice system in their respective communities. More importantly, being able to provide these services and supports from the onset can assist in preventing or diverting system involvement.”
The Youth Justice Community Reinvestment Fund is intended to address Harris County’s ongoing stark racial disparity in juvenile detention, expand community-based alternatives to juvenile detention, and encourage data-driven investment in community-based resources for youth.
About the Youth Justice Community Reinvestment Fund: The Reinvestment Fund comprises funds initially earmarked for juvenile probation and money from the county's General Fund. The Fund will invest in grassroots service providers based in neighborhoods most impacted by the juvenile justice system and employ staff who reflect the youth and families they serve. The Harris County Juvenile Probation Department, which has been a partner in this effort, is fully committed to this innovative approach.
Multiple organizations and individuals with first-hand experience made their voices heard in Commissioners' Court to support the Fund. Directly impacted youth and families, youth-serving organizations and advocates, and government officials supported the Youth Justice Reinvestment Fund as part of a new vision for youth justice in Harris County. Over 60 signatories sent a letter of support to the Commissioners. Many of these supporters have been working with the Justice Administration Department and the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department to find alternatives to youth incarceration even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, the need for the Reinvestment Fund became more evident as the pandemic became lethal for people confined in prisons and jails.
Evidence shows that community investment promotes "a more durable, 'thicker' brand of community safety to replace the 'thin' kind that reliance on imprisonment provides." While incarceration often worsens youth behavior, community investments have been shown to work.
This initiative will also contribute to prevention work for youth and families to enter typically poverty systems, re-engage them to employment and education (opportunity youth), and support services like mental health, typically protective factors to avoid landing in extremes events (e.g., homelessness).
To learn more about the Request for Proposal process to identify the Intermediary for the Youth Justice Community Reinvestment Fund, a pre-proposal conference is scheduled for June 3, 2021, at 2:00 p.m. CST. For more information, visit the Harris County Purchasing website. Attendance is optional, and organizations are encouraged to attend to better understand the requirements of the application process.
Application process: Proposals are due June 21, 2021, or longer if proposal specifications change, and applicants will be notified once the County and vendor have signed an agreement and it is approved by the Commissioners' Court shortly after. To learn more, visit Harris County Purchasing. Click on BuySpeed and register.