For the second year in a row, the state has given the county’s juvenile programs administration department more than $162,000 to support juvenile reform efforts in the county Gov. Nathan Deal is supporting statewide.
The grant, awarded through the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, has proven beneficial in providing resources to redirect services to local troubled youth, said Douglas County Juvenile Programs Department Manager Jenny McDade.
These services allow them to remain in the community and with their families, she said.
Jill Hopson, community services manager for Douglas County Juvenile Department, described the grant as an “added piece to an already successful series of programs.”
She and her staff provide programming for county juvenile court youth and their parents during the evening at the nonprofit Developing and Nurturing Needy Youth, or DANNY, Center.
The program begins after school where the youth are transported from their schools to the center in Douglasville Monday through Friday from 4:30 to 9 p.m.
The parents are required to attend a program, titled Strengthening Parents, on Monday evenings with the young people.
McDade said the youth participate in positive, evidence-based programs such as Botvin Life Skills, which is aimed at increasing the job skills of at-risk youth involved in the juvenile program.
County Juvenile Court Judge Peggy Walker said the goal of the juvenile intervention program is to give children who go through her court and their families the tools they need to solve their own problems without a judge’s intervention.
“The data is clear that locking children up does not change their behavior, but does increase their criminality as adults,” Walker said.
“We are changing how we do the work based upon scientific research guiding our decisions in choosing effective interventions before children are harmed by entry into the juvenile justice system.”
The program has been very successful in its mission to reduce the number of youth required to serve long-term detention, statistics show.
According to McDade, this year the county has had only 11 youth sentenced to a locked facility compared to 33 county youth sent to a locked facility in 2013.