More than 100 local governments vied for six spots to feature their innovative programs during the Rapid Fire session at the 2013 Transforming Local Government Conference held recently in Atlanta, Ga.
The Chesterfield Adolescent Reporting Program, unique in Virginia, was among those selected because it fit the theme “Innovations in Public Safety” and met the requirements for improved efficiency.
The program provides a community-based alternative to detaining moderate- and high-risk youths who currently are on probation pending further court action or who have been suspended or expelled from school. The programs provide highly structured and well-supervised group activities that help promote education, develop positive life skills, reduce substance abuse, limit opportunities to commit new offenses and offer opportunities to contribute to the community. There also is a parent component that discusses Moral Reconation Therapy, teen suicide, prevention, gangs, the juvenile justice system, bullying and appropriate relationships.
Debbie Dugger, director of the Adolescent Reporting Program, presented information about the program, noting that it saved Chesterfield County nearly $400,000. Furthermore, youths completed 2,450 hours of community service, the equivalent of a full-time county employee.
The program now serves 110 youths, compared to 25 at its start in July 2010, and saves the county 40 percent per youth.
Dugger stressed that after the initial input from judges, these evidence-based programs resulted from collaboration among members of the Juvenile Detention Home, Youth Group Home, Juvenile Drug Court, Court Service Unit, General Services, Parks and Recreation, Office of the Senior Advocate, Mental Health Support Services, Youth Planning and Development, Comprehensive Services, Chesterfield County Public Schools, Chesterfield Health Department, Communities In Schools and Colonial Heights Office on Youth.