County officials and treatment providers are hoping a new federal grant, awarded to only three communities across the country, will break the cycle of drugs, alcohol, and crime among juveniles in Toledo.
The four-year grant awarded to the Lucas County juvenile court, provides $1.32 million to provide training to implement a new model of treatment, called Reclaiming Futures, for juveniles who go through the court system. The money is provided by the Justice Department’s office of juvenile justice and delinquency prevention.
LaTonya Harris, the juvenile treatment court coordinator, will be the project’s director.
Reclaiming Futures starts with a different screening process — a series of questions asked to juveniles and their parents, coupled with auxiliary information such as school attendance — for children admitted into juvenile court to determine if a child abuses drugs or alcohol or has a mental health problem. If the need for treatment is spotted early, and with greater accuracy, better treatment can be provided to the juvenile, Ms. Harris said.
The program also is to help local officials understand how closely crime correlates to substance abuse and mental health.
In 2011, 6,474 delinquency offenses were filed in Lucas County juvenile court; 11 percent of those were drug or alcohol-related, according to data provided by the court.
Training will be mandatory for treatment providers, who must, as a condition of the grant, adhere to the Reclaiming Futures model, which is evidenced-based, Ms. Harris said.
“These kids will get more treatment, better treatment, and connect with the community to be more successful,” Ms. Harris said.
The model is based on six steps: the initial screening, initial assessment, service coordination, initiation, engagement, and transition, according to the Reclaiming Futures Web site, reclaimingfutures.org.
In the four years that the program is funded in Lucas County, Ms. Harris said the goal is to serve at least 30 children every year, although she expects many more will go through the program — the numbers depend on how many are determined to have drug, alcohol, or mental health issues, she said.
During the course of the program, officials will seek support from the community to continue to fund the program, Ms. Harris said. As a result of the grant, the court is able to hire three new employees, two full time and one part time.