In its first round of grant awards, the Texas Juvenile Justice Department gave $1.3 million to 23 county juvenile probation departments for projects addressing the needs of children ages 6 through 13.According to KFYO radio in Lubbock, "Some of the services funded by the grants across Texas include truancy intervention officers, counseling services, afterschool programs, bullying prevention, and even a canine program, in which at-risk youth are paired with dogs from local animal shelters and taught how to train and care for the pets."
"A 6-year-old is more manageable; they haven't developed as many habits," Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Mark Williams said. "By teen years, if they've been running the household, it's harder to turn them around."
Members connected to the Youth Advocate Program will begin meeting with school counselors and at-risk coordinators who will identify students for the program.
Mentors, or what Gutierrez calls "life coaches," will go into homes and work with the family to teach them how to address problems.
Interesting idea: One wonders what criteria will be used to identify at-risk kids who haven't committed criminal offenses yet? It would go a long way simply to provide supports for children with incarcerated parents.
RELATED: For more on juvie probation grants and programs, see a report from December (large pdf) titled "Annual Report to the Governor and Legislative Budget Board Juvenile Probation Appropriations, Riders and Special Diversion Programs" which was probably the last publication of the now-defunct Juvenile Probation Commission. Here are a few of the larger grant programs described in the document.
- "The State Aid Grant now consolidated with ten other grants and renamed State Financial Assistance Contract provides funding to local juvenile boards"
- "The Community Corrections Diversion Program Grant provides funding that supports an array of rehabilitation services for juvenile offenders including, but not limited to, community-based programs and services, residential placements as well as transition and aftercare programs or services."
- "The Special Needs Diversionary Program (SNDP) Grant is designed to increase the availability of effective services to juvenile offenders with mental health needs."