Janesville34.5°

New home for juvenile diversion

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ANN MARIE AMES
May 7, 2008
— Starting in June, Janesville teens who want to take classes to stay out of jail will have a classroom.

The Rock County Juvenile Detention Diversion and First Time Offender programs will set up shop in rooms at the First United Congregational Church of Christ, 54 S. Jackson St., Janesville.


Its a good fit because the church and the county have similar missions, said Jason Witt, deputy director of the Rock County Human Services Department.


Well have some real nice space, Witt said. (The church has) the same mission as we do as far as outreach and serving youth.


The programs will mirror some of those available at the Merrill Center, 1428 Wisconsin Ave., Beloit, Witt said.


We will work with the philosophy that were a one-stop resource and reporting center, Witt said. We bring to the center as much as we can what the youth need so they dont have to travel around.


-- The detention diversion program is available for teens on parole who have committed minor violations. Instead of being sent to detention, teens attend 12 weeks of classes, Witt said. They learn tools to manage anger and avoid drug and alcohol abuse. They also get academic support.


-- The first offender program is similar. Its offered to teens who are dealing with their first brush with the law and is geared to steer them in another direction.


The space and staff at First United will be able to handle about 40 teens, Witt said. County staff will run the program independently of church programming. The space for detention diversion programs will be available from about 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Witt said.


The diversion and first offender programs in Janesville and Beloit will be staffed by a full-time diversion specialist, Witt said. A supervisor will oversee both programs, and part-time staff will offer support in both locations.


TO HELP

Community members are encouraged to get involved in the Rock County Juvenile Detention Diversion and First Time Offender programs as mentors or by bringing other skills to the table, said Jason Witt, deputy director of the Rock County Human Services Department.


To participate, call Lisa Goers, diversion program at (608) 363-6220.



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