Juvenile justice Center Programs
Intake: This department deals with “everyone,” Father Barkett said. “It’s official or non-official, which is determined at the time of contact.” Intake may divert youths from the official court docket and assist parents in family crisis. Its goal is to change youths’ negative behavior and support families.
Sports Program: Kevin Jackson, director, said this program creates a “social activity” for a target group of 8- to 17-year-olds. “If you live in Mahoning County, there are different sites,” Jackson said. The sites are not stationary but go where best to “serve kids.”
The year-round program includes basketball, flag football, bowling, soccer for both boys and girls. “Bad behavior isn’t tolerated, and good behavior is expected,” Jackson said. The program has between 10 and 15 volunteers per sport.
Jackson said the program isn’t just focused on playing sports. “Sportsmanship and behavior” are discussed and practiced, he said. Jackson said through sports, the young participants learn how to see the opposing team not as an enemy but as a competitor.
KIND, Kids in Need of Direction: Laura Lonardo supervises the program with referrals coming from the community and intake. “We find resources for families who need higher levels of care,” Lonardo said of what is “high-level case management.”
She said the program focuses on the “strengths and needs” of the youths, each of whom is individually assessed. For some, this means referral to a rehabilitation site for substance abuse, and one such place is Bassett House in Athens.
Lonardo said without KIND, some youths would “be in jail, dead or on the streets.”
Parent Project: “We help parents with destructive adolescents,” said Janet Tarpley, director. She said the 10- to 12-week program, taught in group sessions, teaches parents how to cope with strong-willed youths through intervention strategies. These strategies target school attendance and performance, substance abuse, gang involvement, runaway issues and acts of violence.
Tarpley said among the goals of the curriculum, which is a national program, are to give parents the tools to improve parent-child relationships.
Mahoning County High School: Mahoning County Juvenile Court Judge Theresa Dellick began the school in 2008 in partnership with Mahoning County Education Services Center. Housed in the old Sheridan Elementary Building, the school has about 90 students in ninth- through-12th grades. Jennifer Whittemore, principal, said students come to the school by referral, being expelled from other schools, truancy and at-risk students.
The school had its first two graduates in the 2009-10 academic year, and five are eligible to graduate this month.
Counseling and Adolescent Sexual Abuser Program: Counseling addresses mental and/or behavioral issues. Rex Dell, counseling supervisor, said youths are assessed by staff and individual and family therapy is available to qualifying youths and families. The sexual abuser program’s treatment averages 18 months and is for juveniles adjudicated of sexually oriented crimes.
Department of Re-entry Court: Tim Novak is director of this juvenile corrections system for felony offenders, ages 10 to 21, who have been adjudicated and committed by Mahoning County Juvenile Court.
“We want to get them back and acclimated to society,” Novak said, noting school, tasks and weekly court is part of this program.
Novak said parole officers monitor youths’ behavior. He said goals are established for each participant, and they are encouraged to reconnect with their families. Novak noted that 70 percent of those who go through re-entry court are not recommitted.