House Passes McClellan Bill to Strengthen Prevention Programs for At-Risk Youth

Bill Will Provide Greater Flexibility for Localities to Implement Intervention Programs

RICHMOND, VA – Today, the House of Virginia unanimously passed Sen. Jennifer McClellan’s (D-Richmond) bill (SB 485) to strengthen The Delinquency Prevention and Youth Development Act (DPYDA). The bill unanimously passed the Senate in February, and now heads to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s desk for signature.

The DPYDA, passed into law in 1979, focuses exclusively on providing funds for prevention services, such as services for at-risk youth before they enter the juvenile justice system. The Act improves interagency planning and service coordination, offering localities more flexibility to provide advance intervention for youth. Many other programs for at-risk youth are only available after they have come into contact with the criminal justice system. McClellan’s bill provides greater flexibility for localities, removing burdensome administrative responsibilities for localities to access DPYDA funding, and providing clearer guidelines for how localities could use the funding.  The bill also facilitates collaboration between youth, the faith and business communities, and law enforcement to strengthen youth services programs.

“This bill will give localities expanded tools to support at-risk youth and prevent them from getting in legal trouble,” Sen. McClellan said. “By providing early intervention before a child gets into trouble, the Delinquency Prevention and Youth Development Act helps build communities and make them safer. This is a common-sense step to strengthen proven prevention programs.”

McClellan worked with students at the University of Virginia School of Law’s State and Local Government Policy Clinic to help develop this bill. She previously worked with the clinic to pass SB 1315 in 2021, a law that improved the way that Virginia’s criminal justice system addresses cases involving individuals with mental health conditions and developmental/intellectual disabilities.

“Modernizing the Delinquency Prevention and Youth Development Act by passing SB 485 is an important first step to securing evidence-based prevention programming on a local level for vulnerable youth in Virginia,” said Nate Wunderli, a third year student at the University of Virginia School of Law. “Too often we provide services to youth after they get in trouble.  This bill will help communities prevent young people from getting in trouble in the first place.”

“SB 485 brings the Delinquency Prevention and Youth Development Act in-line with modern youth development best practices and incorporates expertise from state agencies and advocates on the ground,” Scott Chamberlain, a 2nd year student at UVA School of Law. “It has been a thrilling and educational experience to work with Senator McClellan and the General Assembly on a bill that will have an immediate and positive impact on youth across the Commonwealth.”