County using $1.32 million grant for juvenilesWritten by Matt Liasse | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Things have been moving along quickly since Lucas County was awarded a four-year $1.32 million grant to improve its drug court system by implementing the Reclaiming Futures model for juvenile offenders, organizers report.
The program already has three local treatment facilities in place and two more are planned within the next few months, said Lucas County Juvenile Treatment Court Coordinator LaTonya Harris. The program does not have any youth assigned to it yet, but the screening process with the court will begin as early as this month, she said.
In December, Lucas County was one of three recipients of a $5.27 million grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. The grant was split between Lucas County, Forsyth County, N.C., which will receive $1.23 million, and Duval County, Fla., which will receive $1.32 million. The national program office, housed in the Regional Research Institute, School of Social Work at Portland State University, will receive $1.4 million in support over two years to continue training and technical assistance for the existing six federally funded Reclaiming Futures sites in addition to these three new communities, according to a news release.
The program will help local youth become productive members of society, Harris said.
“We reclaim their futures by screening them, giving them treatment and getting them back into the community,” Communications Consultant Lori Howell said.
Howell stressed the importance of the model because of how many crimes relate back to drugs, alcohol and mental health. With this model, teenagers will be screened in these areas directly after an arrest. Then, treatment can be given in response to their needs.
Reclaiming Futures will be used as a model with 25 teenagers in the Lucas County Juvenile Treatment Court. There is a goal set to increase the capacity to 30 teenagers who will receive treatment each year. This would mean 120 teenagers will be helped by the grant during the four years.
“It’s great for our county,” Harris said. “This is going to allow us to serve as a model for other counties and other sites when we get our results.”
Harris said there is no end for Reclaiming Futures in sight, even if the funding from the grant runs out. Once it is implemented and the staff is fully trained, the program will stay intact for as long as the community wants it to be.
“The big piece is getting started, and that is what the funding is helping us do,” Harris said.
“When we get the community on board and involved, I think it will improve relationships and decrease the stigma of how people are looking at juveniles when they see so many in the news,” Harris said.
Reclaiming Futures Executive Director Susan Richardson said the recent tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School is a motivation to improve the lives of our youth.
“This is an opportunity to take a close look at how our communities can help serve our youth and families,” Richardson said.
“I think that is just one more example of why a model like Reclaiming Futures is necessary,” she said.
Reclaiming Futures started 10 years ago in 10 communities. Today, it stretches across 37 counties in 18 states.
“We are on the front lines to help the community get off the cycle of drugs and alcohol,” Richardson said.