Decatur Youth Services awarded a grant to help keep juveniles out of the court system

The $50,000 grant will be used to help children's whose families are in the court system and are at risk of going down that same route

Posted: Nov 21, 2019 7:03 PM
Updated: Nov 21, 2019 8:30 PM

A new program in Decatur would put the focus on families instead of courts for some teens in trouble.

The state is giving the the city $50,000 to reduce juvenile crime rates.

Those funds from will go to Decatur Youth Services for a new program for families in the court system and children who could be at risk.

"Our whole objective is to help them not be repeat offenders like their fathers or their mothers," Lemzel Johnson, Decatur Youth Services program coordinator, said.

Johnson said helping the parents of troubled youth is important because their actions rub off on their children.

"We need to focus on the whole family because if we're working with a child, and we're not helping the parent be able to also equip that child then we're just doing part of the job," he said.

The program would last 14 weeks and focus on improving relationships within the family, fix bad behavior in children and improve school attendance.

"This will uniquely aim to reduce recidivism among those families and that's something that we don't currently provide," Dana Pigg, the grant administrator for the city of Decatur, said.

Johnson said it's never easy watching the kids he works with become offenders or repeat offenders, so finding a solution to keep them on a good path is a good idea.

"It's heartwrenching because again we recognize that there's a glitch somewhere," he said.

"We feel that everybody's a leader in some sort, we just don't want them to be leaders in a gang or a negative light, but wanting them to be leaders to encourage those around them to be good citizens," he said.

The city council will vote on approval for the program at the first city council meeting in December.

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