Youth Bureau adds countyThe Sunrise Youth Bureau in Dickinson has extended its reach of youth services in the region to McKenzie County, a move which could save money. The bureau provides help for troubled juveniles and offers them short-term shelter. It now serves nine counties.
By: Ashley Martin, The Dickinson Press
The Sunrise Youth Bureau in Dickinson has extended its reach of youth services in the region to McKenzie County, a move which could save money.
The bureau provides help for troubled juveniles and offers them short-term shelter. It now serves nine counties.
Director Jerry Mayer said adding McKenzie makes sense. The bureau was already helping the county with temporary youth shelter, he said.
“The way we’ve been doing it in the past is we’ve been billing them for every time that they’ve brought a kid down here,” Mayer said. “When you put it all together, we just thought that rather than doing separate billing for this and separate billing for that, it would be better if they could just become a part of the Youth Bureau.”
Rich Wardner, Sunrise Youth Bureau Board chairman, said adding McKenzie County will help stabilize financing.
“It does firm our base funding so that we can do our job and not worry about where the next dollar is going to come from,” he said.
McKenzie County will provide the Youth Bureau with $6,000 for its services in 2010, Mayer said, adding they will start working together “as soon as we can.”
He expects to offer educational programs in McKenzie County school systems as well.
The Youth Bureau provides a different combination of programs to each area, depending on funding and resources.
Chris Myers, director of juvenile court for the northwest district, said he first worked with the Youth Bureau when he was a juvenile court officer in the southwest district.
“I worked with Jerry Mayer over there for about eight years and his work is second to none,” Myers said. “It was a service that I truly missed and it was lacking in the McKenzie County area and so I asked him if he would consider coming up there and we worked out a deal.”
He said the juvenile court system in the northwest region can now refer smaller violations, such as curfew violations, to the Youth Bureau.
“We would use that agency to more or less take that case away from the court so that we wouldn’t be overburdened with every case and every possible referral that would come our way,” Myers said. “The time Jerry Mayer and his staff devote to kids is time that we can’t devote to them and that time directly impacts their future time in juvenile court.
“If they didn’t have the youth bureau to depend on, most of these kids would be back in the system within a matter of months, if not weeks.”
Amy Fast, McKenzie County Social Services director, said the Youth Bureau can help prevent out-of home placement by providing education, intervention and counseling.
“That in turn can save the county dollars,” Fast said. “A lot of times it can be used as a time out or cool down period. It gives a chance for somebody to do an intervention with the family.”
She expects five to 10 juveniles to use the Youth Bureau for housing in 2010.
Mayer said since the Youth Bureau building can already become crowded, they are looking into reorganizing and possibly adding another room.