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April 2000Vol. 1, No. 2Safe Start Initiative Grants Awarded by OJJDP

On Feb. 29, Deputy Attorney General Eric H. Holder announced grant awards to address the needs of children exposed to violence. "Children exposed to violence are more likely to become violent themselves, regardless of whether they were victimized directly or indirectly, by witnessing violence," said Holder. "These grants will enable communities to intervene early to protect children exposed to violence from further violence and provide them with the treatment they need for recovery."

The nine sites selected for the first year of a 66-month program period are:

  • San Francisco
  • Bridgeport, CT
  • Pinellas County, FL
  • Chicago
  • Washington County, ME
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Rochester, NY
  • Chatham County, NC
  • Spokane, WA

Through the Safe Start grants, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) will award approximately $670,000 each year. Grantees will initially use funds to review existing community services and gaps that need to be filled, followed by planning a 5-year comprehensive response. Interventions will include child advocacy centers, home visitation programs, and domestic violence services for battered mothers whose children are at a high risk of exposure to violence.

Additionally, OJJDP awarded $670,000 to each of three sites--Miami, FL; New Orleans, LA; and Newark, NJ--for a 2-year period to focus on specific improvements to services for children exposed to violence. The National Center for Children Exposed to Violence in New Haven, Connecticut, will work with OJJDP to provide training and technical support to the Safe Start sites.

The Safe Start Initiative, part of a larger Children Exposed to Violence Initiative launched in December 1998, is partly based on the Child Development-Community Policing Program (, funded by OJJDP. This pilot program, developed by Yale University and the New Haven Connecticut Police Department, brings police officers and mental health professionals together to provide constructive intervention for child violent crime victims and witnesses.

A list of the Safe Start grantees is available online at (Editor's note: this link is no longer available).

Related article
See "Insights on Violence and Children" in this issue to read about an interview with the director of the Child Witness to Violence Project at Boston Medical Center.