LUCAS COUNTY, OH (Toledo News Now) – Lucas County has received a grant to help kids in its juvenile court system turn their lives around.
Lucas County is one of only three counties in the country to receive this grant, in the amount of approximately $1.32 million, to help juveniles battling drugs, alcohol, or other crime problems.
"This is a huge system shift," said LaTonya Harris, with the Lucas County Juvenile Court. "This is going to change the way we do business."
Last year, Harris saw 6,000 delinquency cases come through juvenile court – a lot of those kids had alcohol and substance abuse problems.
"The truth of the matter is, this is not the norm," Harris said. Every kid in Toledo is not committing crimes, every kid in Toledo does not have substance abuse issues. The kids that do have a higher probability of change than adults, for example, with those same abuse issues."
Harris said the new grant money will change things for 2013. The money will go toward training staff in the courts and partnering agencies on a new model called "reclaiming futures."
"Instead of the courts being in one silo in Toledo, and the treatment agencies being in another silo, and people doing these separate acts trying to help kids, it will bring everyone together," she explained.
The new model will provide drug and mental testing for all offenders coming into the juvenile court. It will then refer them to resources for treatment and mentors to help with every step of the process – even after they are out of the system.
The goal is to get them out of a dangerous lifestyle and keep them out.
Harris said she's seen plenty of success stories in her line of work, and this will help boost that number even higher.
"You can't take credit for [a juvenile's] success, because they made the decision," Harris said. "However, it feels good to know that you played a part in helping to get them back on track."