OCR recommendations include corrective actions for Teen Challenge, Catholic Services
The U.S. Justice Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has made several detailed recommendations to help the local Criminal Justice Planning Agency (CJPA) strengthen its monitoring of civil rights under USDOJ grants.
OCR also provided recommendations for CJPA to ensure full compliance of its two sub recipients of federal grants especially in the area of federal regulations and laws. The findings, along with the recommendations, were outlined in a January letter to then Criminal Justice Planning Agency director Taufete’e John Faumuina Jr.
(Samoa News reported on this 20-page letter report in the Mar. 15, 20, and 21 editions.)
The letter-report from OCR followed last May’s OCR site visit of CJPA for compliance review dealing with federal civil rights law. Of particular interest to OCR is compliance with the federal regulations issued in 2004 on the Equal Treatment for Faith-Based Organizations, also known as the Equal Treatment Regulations or 'Regulations', which among other things instructed federally funded faith-based organizations not to discriminate in the delivery of services or benefits based on religion or to use federal funds for inherently religious activities.
The CJPA already has in place a number of procedures to monitor the compliance of its sub recipients with various grant requirements, according to the report. To strengthen the CJPA’s civil rights monitoring efforts, the OCR offers the following recommendations:
• develop grant agreement provisions regarding federal civil rights/nondiscrimination obligations,
• develop a monitoring protocol that covers items regarding federal civil rights laws,
• provide training to all sub recipients regarding their obligations to comply with federal civil rights laws,
• provide information and training to CJPA personnel on the Agency’s employment nondiscrimination policy and procedures,
• develop a comprehensive policy for addressing discrimination complaints,
• allow sub recipients to demonstrate their nonprofit status by any of the means identified in the DOJ’s Equal Treatment Regulations, and
• ensure that Catholic Social Services and Teen Challenge comply with the requirements of the Equal Treatment Regulations.
TEEN CHALLENGE AND CATHOLIC SOCIAL SERVICES
OCR recommends CJPA should take corrective action to improve its monitoring of Catholic Social Services and Teen Challenge and “to ensure that, going forward, these sub recipients use their federal financial assistance in ways that comply with the requirements of the Equal Treatment Regulations.”
To ensure that both organizations understand their obligations under this regulatory provision, the CJPA should provide a copy of the Regulations to each sub recipient’s executive director, OCR recommends.
CJPA should also require all of the employees of both sub recipients to watch the OCR’s training video on the responsibilities of faith-based recipients of federal financial assistance. (OCR provided a specific link to the video)
Regarding the Catholic Social Services, the CJPA “should prohibit the sub recipient from relying on its federally funded counselor to conduct Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings,” OCR recommends.
“It should also ensure that these inherently religious activities are not supported by any federally funded administrative resources, which may require the sub recipients to hold all of its substance-abuse sessions in a meeting space that does not benefit from federal financial assistance,” said OCR.
As to Teen Challenge, the CJPA should ensure that the sub recipient:
• remove those provisions of its brochure that promote, endorse, or favor religion,
• refrain from using federally funded equipment to engage in any inherently religious activity,
• obtain parental consent to invite a youth to any separate and distinct religious activities,
• discontinue its reliance on religious-related questions in evaluating those beneficiaries who participate in federally funded programs or services, and
• remove the reference to scripture on the last page of its youth assessment survey.
“In evaluating any application from Catholic Social Services or Teen Challenge for future DOJ grant funds, the CJPA should carefully consider whether either applicant remains in non compliance with the Equal Treatment Regulations,” said OCR.
If the CJPA decides that either organization is in fact qualified to receive another grant award, it should include a special condition in the governing grant agreement that describes in detail the applicable requirements of the Regulations,” it says.
“We find that the CJPA should implement OCR’s recommendations to ensure substantial compliance with the federal civil rights laws that the OCR enforces,” the report says and noted that the OCR is available to provide technical assistance in addressing the concerns raised in this Report.
Copies of the report were also sent via e-mail to the executive directors of Catholic Social Services and Teen Challenge. Specific details of the report can be found online: www.ojp.usdoj.gov/about/ocr/pdfs/AS-12-OCR-0135.pdf
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