At-Risk and Delinquent Youth:

Multiple Federal Programs Raise Efficiency Questions

HEHS-96-34: Published: Mar 6, 1996. Publicly Released: Mar 6, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed federal programs for at-risk and delinquent youth, focusing on: (1) fiscal year (FY) 1995 appropriations dedicated to youth programs; and (2) the potential for program overlap and duplication of services.

GAO found that: (1) there are 131 programs administered by 16 federal agencies that can benefit at-risk and delinquent youth; (2) 60 percent of the programs are administered by the Departments of Health and Human Services and Justice; (3) FY 1995 appropriations exceeded $4 billion for 83 percent of the programs for which funding data could be obtained; (4) the median amount of FY 1995 appropriations was $10 million per program; (5) most programs use project grants or formula grants to distribute funds to service providers; (6) many of the programs are authorized to provide multiple services, including counseling, job training assistance, research and evaluation efforts, and substance abuse treatment; (7) many of the programs have multiple target groups such as poor youth, abused or neglected youth, substance abusers, and school dropouts; (8) the systems for providing services to at-risk and delinquent youth create the potential for program overlap and service duplication; and (9) the overall effectiveness of federal efforts to assist at-risk and delinquent youth is questionable.

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