Senate Passes McClellan Bill to Improve Intervention Programs for At-Risk Youth

Bill Will Strengthen Prevention Program and Provide Greater Flexibility for Localities

RICHMOND, VA – Today, the Virginia Senate unanimously passed Sen. Jennifer McClellan’s (D-Richmond) bill (SB 485) to strengthen The Delinquency Prevention and Youth Development Act (DPYDA). The bill will now move to the House. 

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.

Sen. McClellan has a pending budget amendment to fully fund the DPYDA, which has not received funding since 2008. Reinstituting funding for the DPYDA and making it easier for Virginia communities to access these funds will help to reduce youth violence and enable children to get the support they need to be successful.

“This bill will help children across Virginia receive the preventative help they need,” Sen. McClellan said. “We need to give more Virginia localities flexibility for proven programs that help intervene before children run into trouble with the legal system. This is an opportunity to build our communities, make them safer, and support the children of Virginia.”

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.

“This bill, and the related funding in a budget amendment, represent one of the few state-supported tools that communities have to fund prevention,” said Andrew Block, Director of the UVA Clinic and former Director of the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice. “Most state laws and funding kick in only after kids get in trouble or experience real crisis. Not this bill, which is why it has so much local government support.”