Ga. county awarded juvenile justice grant

The Lowndes County Board of Commissioners accepted a grant awarded in the amount of $195,372 for programs and services that provide diversion for youthful offenders

By Malia Thomas
The Valdosta Daily Times, Ga.

VALDOSTA, Ga. — Lowndes County officials said they prefer implementing programs and services that provide diversion for youthful offenders as opposed to incarceration.

They said they hope the juvenile justice grant will help make that goal a reality.

The Lowndes County Board of Commissioners accepted a grant awarded in the amount of $195,372 for the Lowndes County Juvenile Court. Evidence Based Associates, a team of professionals with a background in social services and juvenile justice, will continue to serve as the service provider and provide program management services to ensure compliance with all reporting and programmatic requirements.

Back in April, a meeting was held with Juvenile Court Judge James Council, Department of Juvenile Justice staff, staff from EBA, as well as staff from the clinical service provider. During the meeting, an analysis of past trends as well as current caseloads within the Juvenile Court was conducted to determine the appropriate programs needed and to determine the amount of services needed for Lowndes County.

At the conclusion of the meeting, officials decided Lowndes County would be best served by continuing the Functional Family Therapy program and the court should be able to support up to 36 referrals to the program during the Fiscal Year 2023 period.

The grant application's proposal narrative stated the courts wish to aid juveniles who are at risk of involvement in or who are already part of the juvenile justice system, including:

At-risk population: 26,943.

New instances of secure detention (regional youth detention centers): 106.

Cases resulting in commitment to DJJ: 22.

New instances of confinement in secure juvenile correctional facilities (youth development campuses): 22.

Adjudicated Offense: 93.

Pre-Dispositional Risk Assessment Scores: 90 (2 or higher).

Gender: 24 Female, 66 Male.

Age: 13-18 years old.

Race/Ethnicity: 22 white, 66 Black, 2 other.

Average days in service with PDRA score breakdown:

Dismissal/Removal High: 13.

Successful High: 138.

Dismissal/Removal Medium: 66.

Successful Medium: 113.

Administrative High: 25.

Administrative Medium: 0.

" The Juvenile Court of Lowndes County aspires to achieve excellence by providing quality services for the positive development of children, the safety of the community and the preservation of the family unit. Given clear research evidence that evidence-based practices reduce recidivism and improve positive youth and family outcomes, it is a clear extension of the court's mission to implement these alternatives to the county's current detention and commitment practices," county officials said in their application.

"The target population as described above in part 1.a (statement of summary/need) includes an at-risk population of 26,943 youth. Any youth that is at risk of out of home placement with a PDRA score of 2 or higher may be served with preference given to those with higher PDRA scores. The proposed treatment model can serve youth 11-18 years old."

Ashley Tye, Lowndes County's emergency management director, confirmed to commissioners that this would be the ninth year that the county has utilized these services and that there would be no required match on the county's side as it is a reimbursement grant.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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