Justice eases access to community programs

As the debate on school violence and possible solutions continues, the Justice Department recently unveiled a World Wide Web site that may prove useful to parents and educators trying to attack the problem at its roots.

DOJ's Building Blocks for Safe and Healthy Communities site promotes itself as a guide to "everyone interested in building safe and healthier communities in which to live and work." Attorney General Janet Reno has taken an active role in developing the site, said one DOJ source.

The site falls under DOJ's sprawling Office of Justice Programs, which develops and funds many anti-crime programs, including those for state and local governments. But figuring out what OJP and its sister agencies within DOJ offer can be a tricky endeavor.

But the Building Blocks for Safe and Healthy Communities site (www.ojp.usdoj.gov/tree) should make that effort easier. It features a colorful yet simple drawing of a tree surrounded by friendly police officers, cyclists and a happy little dog. It may sound a bit playful for DOJ—especially compared with the FBI's stark, all-business site—but OJP's site is appropriate for a community-related program. The tree's limbs branch off to indicate four of the site's five main areas, Employment, Health, Shelter and Education. The police officers are a link to the fifth, Public Safety.

Clicking on any area's icon takes visitors to a list of programs under that particular category. A synopsis accompanies each program, explaining to visitors the type of program it is (such as whether it is a broad initiative or one for which grants are available), the DOJ office or agency that oversees it and how to get more information.

If visitors do not want to view all the information the site provides, they can click on buttons at the top of the home page to limit searching to the particular "life stage" in which they are interested.

For example, a visitor can search for programs in one of four categories: Infancy to Young Adults, Adults with Special Needs, Adults and All Ages.

Visitors can further refine their request. Searching for adult programs under education, for example, takes visitors to a screen where they can read about Life Long Learning programs such as DOJ's research fellowships in criminal justice or the parenting skills program DOJ funds through Parents Anonymous Inc.

By clicking on buttons at the top of the screen, a visitor can get information about one of three categories of adult education programs—Job Training and Retraining, such as juvenile mentoring programs; Welfare to Work, such as the Immigration and Naturalization Service's job placement program; and School to Work, such as scholarship programs for students interested in law enforcement careers.

Visitors can refine their request even more by clicking on a keyword search button that is available on each page of the site. This button will take visitors to a page where they can browse through a list of topics more specific than the five broad categories found on the home page. These other topics include Addiction, Child Abuse, Gangs and Minorities. The page also allows visitors to search the entire OJP site for the keywords they are most interested in.

Other functions make the site easier to use. If visitors do not prefer graphics, they may choose to view a text-only version of the site. The site also includes a page filled with links to other federal agencies.The Building Blocks for Safe and Healthy Communities site also can be reached from a link on OJP's main site, www.ojp.usdoj.gov/home.htm.

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Site Survey

www.ojp.usdoj.gov/tree

The tree found at the Justice Department's Building Blocks for Safe and Healthy Communities site serves as a launching pad for information about DOJ community programs.

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