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Grant money transferred to help high-risk youths

A Washington County judge is helping offset county costs by utilizing $100,000 in unspent state grant dollars for the placement of high-risk youths.

Juvenile Court Judge Tim Williams submitted a grant amendment to the Washington County Commission to channel the unspent funds to Washington County Family & Children First to offset county costs for the youth placement. The amendment is designed to help relieve the burden on the county general fund.

“It was a state grant from different funds,” Williams explained. “Rather than give it back to the state, I came up with a way for it to be used by the county.”

He said he knew the money could be used by Washington County Director of Job and Family Services Flite Freimann and by the end of the year, the county could get $100,000 back.

The funding was to be spent by July 1, but Williams didn’t have any children that fit the criteria for the funding. If the money could be transferred to FCF, then when these multi-system children need placed, the grant funding could be tapped instead of money allocated from the county commission.

He noted that to the state, when the grant funding is taken off the juvenile court books and transferred to FCF, the money has been spent.

Freimann explained that the juvenile court received the state grant to house juveniles, then when the court gives them to the county, the county then has to decide where they are to be placed.

These multi-system youth are seen by the juvenile court, Washington County Behavioral Health Board and Washington County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

Freimann said the child might be seen by behavioral health for a drug abuse disorder, then by the juvenile court if they are arrested because of their drug abuse. He said they didn’t want one department punished by paying all of the costs for the child, so there are pooled funds for the multi-system youth.

“We pool funds to try to keep the child in their home and provide treatment,” Freimann said, noting there are 13 children in the system.

These multi-system children are often delinquency cases where the parents are no longer controlling the child. The decision must be made whether the kids should go to juvenile detention or be placed with Children Services.

“Part of the problem is that the parents aren’t providing adequate supervision,” he said. The funding was for scenarios where the court wanted to have the child in a certain placement without removing the parent bonds and responsibility, but Williams didn’t have any cases that fit that mold.

“Normally, it’s not uncommon at the end of the year for money to be left over for state grants, and in most cases, the money is given back,” Freimann explained. “In many ways, it’s good fiscal stewardship, but Judge Williams didn’t want to send $100,000 back to the state.”

What the judge proposed to the FCF Council was that instead of using normal placement funds to cover the child, they could instead tap into the $100,000, which would result in a cost savings to Children Services, he added.

“The money isn’t coming back to the commissioners from JFS, it’s coming back from the juvenile court through JFS,” Freimann explained.

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com

At a glance:

• Unspent state grant funding is offsetting county costs for youth placement.

• The $100,000 is being transferred from the juvenile court to Family Children First.

• Funds will be used for placement of multi-system youth.

• The transfer of funds is to help ease the burden on the county general fund.

Source: Times research.

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