The Delaware County Juvenile Court has applied for and received an $88,231 grant from the Ohio Department of Youth Services, Delaware County commissioners learned Monday.
The Detention Alternative and Enhancement Grant award will help implement a “crisis alternative response team” for juveniles and will hopefully reduce the number of detention days for juveniles, officials said.
Juvenile Court Judge David Hejmanowski asked county commissioners Monday to accept the grant. “The program allows funding to operate a program internally that will hopefully reduce the number of bed days that nonviolent youth or status offenders are spending in the detention center,” he said.
The goal of the grant is not only to reduce stays in detention but also to reduce the cost to the county. “Our hope here is not to only reduce the number of young men and young women who are spending time in detention and their length of their stays in detention but we will also reduce the bill that you get from the (Central) Ohio Youth Center,” Hejmanowski said.
According to juvenile court officials, Delaware County used 739 detention bed days at the Ohio detention center last year at a cost of $275 per day per bed. “Our challenge in programs such as this … is to talk about spending money up front to prevent spending money later,” Hejmanowski said.
The largest population of nonviolent juveniles the court deals with are children who are unruly, and the parents refuse to take them home, he said. “We have a lot of unruly children who (are) just coming in with family system issues,” intake diversion department head Lisa Williamson said. “So they end up with some kind of delinquency.”
The program will help identify youth early, allowing for a crisis alternative response team to work on keeping them out of detention. “A team of at least three outside the family working with this family up to three times a week to work to keep the kids at home,” Williamson said.
The court wants to keep youth out of the Central Ohio Youth Center while their problems are small. “Kids come back into the system with significantly deeper problems because we haven’t addressed the smaller ones in the beginning,” Hejmanowski said.
“It’s encouraging to see alternatives being discussed and tried and so on, because COYC is an expensive way to treat or to handle these kids,” Commissioner Jeff Benton said. “It’s a rough facility. I mean it’s a real prison.”
Commissioners voted to accept the grant.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.