Community Partners Keeping Youth on Right Path
KREX News Room
MESA COUNTY, Colo. Staying on the right path isn't always easy for young people, many face family struggles, substance abuse problems or mental health issues. However, state officials are reporting a dramatic decrease of juveniles being committed to the Colorado Division of Youth Corrections, Mesa County included. Officials cite rehabilitation programs as key factors in the drop.
David Lee, regional director for the Colorado Division of Youth Corrections, said, "In the past that was sometimes disappointing, you would get a call from a mom or a dad saying what do I need to do to get some help for my kid? Does my child need to commit a crime in order to get some help?"
The Division of Youth Corrections has focused on providing the right service at the right time.
Rebecca Hobart, Executive Director of Ariel Clinical Services, said, "If we provide a little service up front we can really save a lot of taxpayer money and save a lot of grief for the youth and for the families that are getting themselves in trouble."
"This community has been really involved in addressing not just the needs of kids but their whole family," said Lee.
Fortunately, their methods seem to be working.
"Our recidivism rate has gone down in the past couple of years, our rate is down to 15.8 percent," Lee said.
That rate is even lower on the Western Slope, which is at around nine percent.
Lee said, "It has a lot to do with our commitment to getting kids back into their communities, and the communities playing a big part in their transition back home."
"I think the most encouraging thing to me is that we're seeing proof that intervening earlier with youth and with families really does pay off," Hobart said.
"All communities really believe that these are their kids, not just the Division of Youth Corrections," said Lee.
The Division of Youth Corrections is hopeful this trend will continue, maybe even one day putting them out of a job.