Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Shawn Jansen
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Evening Reporting Center to open next month

Grant funded program aims to keep adjudicated youth at home

 

November 14, 2019



Pine County will be giving juveniles on probation who are at risk for detention or residential treatment some intensive intervention come December. That is roughly the start of a new program called the Evening Reporting Center (ERC).

The ERC grew out of Project RISE, a collaborative effort among the juvenile justice system, county agencies and schools to keep youth out of the juvenile justice system, starting with truancy.

Who is eligible?

Pine County youth ages 12-18 who meet the criteria of risk for delinquency or out-of-home placement, or those youth returning home from out-of-home placement, are eligible for the program. Youth who are a danger to themselves or others, are experiencing active psychosis, or who have been adjudicated of violent offenses, assaults and sex offenses would not qualify.

How are youth referred?

Youth will be referred by probation officers and social workers.

Pine County Attorney Reese Frederickson said in an email Monday, “My office’s role involves recommending juveniles who fit the entry criteria and are otherwise appropriate ERC candidates to the court. The recommendation would be provided by our juvenile prosecutor. The court would then order the juvenile to attend the ERC program (10 weeks).”

Frederickson added, “The hope is that we can positively impact a juvenile’s life, put him/her on the right path, and avoid the expenses and trauma of removing the juvenile from his/her home.”

What the ERC looks like

The ERC will be headed by two contracted staff, the Program Director Laura Hudak, and a youth counselor, who will be hired soon. They will be providing structured group programming from 4:30-7:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with an occasional Saturday scheduled. Groups will be limited to no more than 10 youth, and youth will be required to attend at least 25 of 30 sessions over a 10-week period.

Pine County Probation Director Terry Fawcett said in an email, “Just because the program is 10 weeks, doesn’t mean that we have to stop right at 10 weeks, if a child has been missing, etc. There may (be) a good reason they missed a few meetings. We want to work with them and keep them in the community.”

The group programming will be using a curriculum called “What Got Me Here” that involves youth journaling on a variety of topics, plus there will be a variety of community presenters on relevant topics.

Fawcett stated, “We have a good menu of professionals that want to teach different supplemental items such as ‘healthy nutrition’, mindfulness, chemical dependency education, etc.”

The groups will meet at the Alternative Learning Center on the East Central Schools campus, and transportation will be provided. The program will run continually, so students can begin at any point.

Individualized support

The ERC will also include individual case management provided by the ERC director and counselor. They will be helping identify barriers for the youth and their family, connecting them to available resources such as chemical health and housing support, monitoring school attendance, and providing other assistance and support as needed.

Other support needed

The ERC has identified some community partners to provide assistance and support to the youth in the program, but they are looking for more. For example, schools can offer credit recovery for students, church groups can assist with supplies, clothing or meals. Individuals can be mentors for the youth.

The two-year startup of the ERC is funded by a $333,800 grant. Frederickson submitted the grant application to the Department of Public Safety, and he said there will be intensive reporting requirements. He said it is a reimbursement grant, so county dollars expended will be reimbursed.

Currently, meals are not covered by the grant, but an appeal has been filed in Washington, D.C., as their importance is recognized. Meanwhile, donations for meals and other methods of providing them are being considered.

If interested in learning how to be involved, contact Program Director Laura Hudak at Laura.Hudak@co.pine.mn.us.

 

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